Exploring the Decomposition Tree Visual in Power BI

Struggling to get business users in sync about how to consistently slice and dice a metric in a report? Try out the Decomposition Tree visual and let the end users decide for themselves.

During the requirements gathering phase of a report, try to understand how business users typically want to analyze a particular metric. Often times it’s something straightforward like Sales as it pertains to various levels of their organizational hierarchy. In which case, you can simply make a bar chart with the ability for end users to drill up and down various levels of a hierarchy.

But this can be limiting as the hierarchy has to be determined in advance by the report creator. Say that a company wants to analyze their retail Sales data by various item attributes, in various orders. That’s where a Decomposition Tree is ideal – it allows the end user to fully customize which order they view these attributes.

Scenario 1

A Business Unit President for the “Core” business wants to see how sales break down by Collection, then Price Point, then Style. That President has the ability to start with a blank slate and create the visual below. Then they can start exploring the various Collections to analyze which Price Points and Styles are driving sales.

Scenario 2

A Manager for the Spring Collection wants to see how sales shake out between business units, first and foremost. Then after understanding that distribution, is interested in the Style breakdown for a given BU.

The best part about the Decomposition Tree is that it can allow for both of these scenarios in one visual. On top of that, it’s very easy to setup in Power BI Desktop. You simply feed it a metric to analyze and drop in all attributes that a user would possibly want to see. Once published, the user has the ability to add or subtract any layers of analysis to fit their needs.

How do I incorporate this visual into my report?

The Decomposition Tree is a unique visual because it isn’t automatically part of PBI Desktop’s out-of-the-box visuals list. It was rolled out as part of the November 2019 release as a “preview” feature. So to enable this visual, it requires going to File -> Options and Settings -> Options -> Preview features -> check Decomposition Tree Visual. It will require a restart of Power BI Desktop, but it will then appear in your list of visuals:

Written by Eric Leuthold
Eric Leuthold is a Manager with over 8 years of experience in data analysis and business intelligence.

Deploying Power BI without the appropriate planning and preparation sets the organization up for several challenges down the road.  When deployed properly the organization can modernize the way it operates. 


Before you start, you’ll want to make sure you’ve thought of everything. 


Implementing Power BI can be quite the undertaking.  Use this Power BI checklist as a reference to make sure you’re prepared for every aspect of your project. 

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