Sport Vlaanderen

Power BI helps Sport Vlaanderen in mapping out sport practice

Sport Vlaanderen, the Flemish Sports Agency, wants to  get as many Flemish people as possible into sport by providing them with high-quality facilities. The most visible initiative in this context is the hashtag #sportersbelevenmeer [#sportspeopleexperiencemore]. However, services are also being further professionalised behind the scenes, thanks to, among other things, the use of Power BI. By collecting data from all sorts of sources, the sports agency wants to outline a knowledge-based policy. To do so, Kohera’s experience was tapped into.

With its Power BI project, Sport Vlaanderen wants to achieve four goals. First, it aims at linking all data that are now spread among several databases. Next to that, the government agency wants to sort those data in a visually attractive overview before putting them at the disposal of citizens, sports federations and sports departments. The third goal is to use those data to answer policy questions much faster. To conclude, the agency wants to hand over the collected data to research institutes for further scientific analysis. “No small task, but the first step in realizing our goals has already been taken”, says Hans Ponnet, the head of the department for Sports Management Education at Sport Vlaanderen.

More insights thanks to Power BI

A look at the numbers confirms this. Hans Ponnet: “The Power BI project has made it possible to connect the data of Flemish sports clubs (26,000), infrastructures (21,000), more than 2,500,000 sportspeople and 110,000 trainers, … to each other. In the first project phase we have gained a clear insight into sport practice in Flanders for the first time.”

The first analysis of the data made Sport Vlaanderen conclude that club sports are booming more than ever. There has been an increase of 16 per cent in doing club sports, whereas the number of new sports clubs has risen by more than 10 per cent. “We would never have collected those data without this project”, says Hans Ponnet. “There are still a lot of sources we have to explore to gain even more insights. We still have medium-term and long-term challenges ahead of us.”

Data warehouse supports policy choices

Sport Vlaanderen consciously opted for Microsoft Power BI, because there are ample integration possibilities with the SharePoint-oriented website, among other things. Hans Ponnet: “After that choice, we have developed a data warehouse with the Kohera consultants. The Kohera experts built SSIS and SSAS cubes that served as back ends to reporting processes in Power BI. The next phase consisted of developing new domains and adding new data that will surely help us in making policy choices.”

emigrated from an on-premise SQL Server environment to an Azure environment. We now have a clear overview of all costs and are completely ready for the future.”

“Meanwhile, we have developed eight cubes, eight different domains in the data warehouse. Thanks to this, we can now start linking those data and making analyses. In the course of the project, we also

Data available to third parties

Sport Vlaanderen also tries to involve external parties in the  Power BI project, such as citizens. “We created a knowledge platform on our website, in which we regularly publish new dashboards containing clear information that can be useful for citizens or sports clubs”, says Hans Ponnet.

By developing plug-ins, the government institute also aims at involving partner organizations in the project, such as towns or sports federations. “We integrate them in closed environments. A sports federation, for example, then can find the information it needs and start benchmarking. This service model enables us to make all our data available to our partner organizations.”

The perfect partner and software

Sport Vlaanderen started the Power BI project in 2017. After first having opted for a Microsoft product, the agency searched for a perfect partner. “We have chosen Kohera, because they are the household name in the field of Microsoft technologies. Moreover, they have already been very successful in projects for other agencies of the Flemish and federal government.”

Hans Ponnet: “Kohera was and still is an essential partner in this story. During this Power BI project, there has always been a very close cooperation between the Kohera consultants and the consultants who work here. Nico and Philippe, the two Kohera experts that join us a couple of days a week, have put their heart and soul in this project. I hope I have learnt them a number of things, but that feeling is certainly mutual. They have made an enormous contribution to all departments of Sport Vlaanderen!  We also hope to cooperate with Kohera in the long term. The knowledge is now in-house, and we would be more than happy to continue this project with the same people and the same support from Kohera.”