A sneak peek into the Power (of) BI & DAIS

By Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA
Jun 30, 2022
Photo credit: monticello/Depositphotos.com
Sort of sounds like magic, eh? It sort of is. Let me explain. Last year I wrote Picture This: DAIS & Power BI, outlining the tools CPA PEP candidates need to evaluate data analytics information systems (DAIS). CPA PEP candidates see DIAS during the modules, starting at Core 2, and could see testable competencies in exams.
This post is for CPA preparatory course students and Core 1 CPA PEP candidates to provide more background on what to expect when encountering DAIS in the CPA PEP modules.

What is Power BI?

PowerBI is a CPA PEP tool starting in Core 2. While candidates can use an Apple-based computer during CPA PEP, PowerBI requires Microsoft software to run on. Candidates without access to a Windows laptop may choose to use “Bootcamp” or another program. Bootcamp is software that, when installed on a Mac, provides a Windows operating system, thus allowing users to install and run the free version of PowerBI. Other candidates may opt to borrow a friend’s PC laptop since CPA Canada’s D2L helpdesk cannot assist on Mac-specific techie issues.

Wait; a free version of PowerBI is okay?

Yes, CPA PEP doesn’t require candidates to buy PowerBI. The free version will be more than sufficient to address your questions.

Why do I need Power BI?

Candidates will utilize provided data sets for the Integrated Problem (IP) portion of their assignment sets. Depending on the module, candidates may see DAIS questions that require PowerBI to be used for 1-2 assignments sets.

Wait, Why - Big W - do I need Power BI?

Ah yes, the big picture is that we as CPAs need PowerBI because it is part of The Way Forward for the future of the CPA profession. CPAs are contributing to a future where accounting professionals will train artificial intelligence on how to perform manual tasks accountants used to perform. You need to understand the data going in if it agrees with the information coming out, and how to adjust. Your accounting and technology knowledge will be mixed to measure value “beyond financials to capture societal expectations” while “protecting integrity, trust and ethics” (CPA Foresight Initiative).

How do I use Power BI?

How much time do you have? Honestly, there is comprehensive guidance in general and for your task-specific instructions. When in doubt, ask a question to your online facilitator or fellow candidates and lead facilitator via the course discussion board. We will get through mastering DAIS together.

Do I need this for the exam?

While this was covered in the post linked above, it is one of our most popular FAQs, so I thought it may be worth repeating. PowerBI is not examinable, though the underlying principles of DAIS as outlined in your Competency Map may be. This means that, for example, the exam objective questions or case may ask you to interpret findings from DAIS software and communicate the implications of the results to the user.

Just like you will do in your tasks and career as a CPA.


Do you have feedback on this post or a question you’d like answered by an experienced CPAWSB educator? Please contact your facilitator or send a question to the General Topic in the Candidate Discussion forum.

Photo of Sam Taylor

Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA

Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA, is an educator and lead policy advisor for CPAWSB and a Senior Instructor of accounting at Dalhousie University. She is on a mission to understand and enable learner efficacy while eliminating doldrums occasionally associated with accounting education. Read more of Sam’s posts at the CPAWSB blog.