Power BI B2B External Collaboration

You might have seen the recent YouTube video by Guy in a Cube, where Adam explains how to work as an external user and publish content from Power BI Desktop to a B2B workspace. In this blog, I will further elaborate on business-to-business capabilities of Power BI, some related tenant settings that allows or blocks you from using a B2B setup and challenges you might encounter.

External collaboration

As organization, you might work with external parties, like software vendors, consultants, developers, you name it. All of them contribute to the success of your organization and as part of that, they might need access to your Power BI environment. This can be for various use cases like:

  • Just consuming content in the Power BI service, looking at that report or dashboard etc.
  • Collaboration in workspaces, where external guests can also publish to your organization.

In the majority of projects that I have done in the past for clients, I worked with an account in the client domain, like firstname.lastname@clientname.com. As a Power BI consultant/developer, I ended up with many different accounts, for every client a new one. Dealing with a different password for each client, with different complexity requirements like uppercase and lowercase, letters, numbers, special characters and different validities.

With business-to-business (B2B) collaboration in Power BI, all this is not required. Users outside your organization which you explicitly granted access to your tenant can publish content to your organization workspaces. For a long time, one of the main challenges was to publish content from Power BI desktop to the Power BI service as a guest user, but since a recent update this challenge is no longer applicable.

As said in the introduction, Adam Saxton at Guy in a Cube made a great video about this external collaboration and how guest users can publish content from desktop to the clients Power BI Service.

I personally think this is a great step forward and will save a lot of hassle for all consultants and/or developers working for their clients. They no longer require a client domain account to collaborate in the Power BI Service. However, this is only part of the challenge while onboarding to new projects of course. Source access is another part that often is a delaying factor for starting new projects and might potentially still require a domain account.

Configuration and FAQ

Before you can start taking benefit of these B2B integrations, there are a few things to keep in mind. First one that Adam already mentioned in his video is about licensing. But besides that, there are also a few tenant settings which need to be configured correctly to get this B2B integration configured. Below some of the challenges you might encounter during configuration and (if applicable) the related tenant setting.

  • How do I get my account added as guest user to the client tenant?
    Follow the steps described in this documentation to get your account added as guest to the client tenant. Please also verify at the client, as specific organizational onboarding processes might apply.
  • Are there any prerequisites in Power BI before this B2B collaboration works?
    Yes there is a tenant setting which needs to be enabled. The tenant setting shown below could be enabled to everyone, or you must be added to the exception group. Depending on organization governance processes you might want to limit B2B guest access by a security group as Power BI Service administrator.
Tenant setting related to be able to share with externals.
  • I can view content, but cannot collaborate in the workspace. What now?
    Viewing content as external user is a separate setting in the Power BI tenant settings. Please ask the Power BI Service administrator to also allow guest editing. Above setting allows only to view / consume content, where editing requires additional tenant setting to be enabled.

    In below example this tenant setting is limited to a security group, where only people who are part of this security group are allowed to edit content in the Power BI service. My advice to all Power BI Service administrators would be to limit this tenant setting by a security group, so you can define a proper onboarding process for external users to your Power BI tenant. With this process, you can guide them to your organization specific governance and other specifics.
Tenant setting related to external guest editing.
  • My client tried to add me to the Power BI Workspace, but the guest account does not show up as suggested account. What now?
    Another tenant setting applies here. In order to show external users as suggested people, below setting must be enabled. Otherwise the user has to type your full mail address every time you get added to something in the Power BI Service.
Tenant setting related to show guests as suggested people.
  • My client has a Premium per User workspace, do I need a Premium per User license as well when I’m signing in with an external account?
    Yes, all license requirements still apply.
  • The workspace in the client domain is on Power BI Premium, do I need any specific permissions or license to publish to this workspace?
    All general license requirements apply. You need a Power BI Pro or Premium per User license as content creator to publish to a shared workspace. Find more information in this documentation.
  • I don’t have a Power BI license assigned to my account, can I still sign in to the client tenant?
    You need a Pro license or Premium per User license in order to collaborate in a shared Power BI workspace. Either you bring your own license from your organization, or the client can assign you a license as a guest in their tenant. Read more about assigning licenses to guest users in this documentation.
  • I tried to access the Power BI Service of my client via the browser, but when I got to the Power BI Service, I keep ending up in my own tenant. How do I access their tenant?
    Make sure you include the CTID in the URL. This is the tenant Id. You can best find this if you go to ? button on the right top in the Power BI Service and click “About Power BI” where you will find your Tenant URL which looks like this:
About Power BI – to find your tenant specific URL.

Some last notes

I hope this blog helped you to get started with your Power BI Business to Business experience. In case you want to read more, I recommend to read the official documentation about this feature which you can find here.

Last but not least, I want to point out one thing, which Adam also mentioned in his video, in case you are using Information Protection Labels, there will be no labels applied when content is published by a guest user. Honestly, I think this is a huge miss, as you want to have governance and policies like Information Protection to be applied to all content, in any case! I truly hope Microsoft will fix this soon, as this might hold Power BI Service Administrators back from enabling B2B collaboration.

Also, I recommend Power BI Service administrators to read through the other considerations and limitations documented.

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