References

Sport Vlaanderen

Power BI helps Sport Vlaanderen to map out sports practice

Sport Vlaanderen, the Flemish Sports Agency, wants to get as many Flemish people as possible to practice sports in high-quality conditions. The most visible initiative in this context is the hashtag #sportersbelevenmeer [#sportspeopleexperiencemore], but they are also working hard to further professionalize their services behind the scenes, for instance by implementing Power BI. By collecting data from all sorts of sources, the sports agency wants to outline a knowledge-based policy, a project which was done in close collaboration with Kohera.

Sport Vlaanderen determined four objectives within its Power BI project. The first is to connect all data that is spread across several databases. Next, the government agency wants to make this data available to citizens, sports federations and sports departments in a visually attractive way. The third goal is to answer policy questions much faster based on that data. Finally, the agency wants to make the collected data accessible to research institutes so that scientific research can be done with it. “No small task, but the first steps towards realizing our goals have 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 allowed us to connect data from Flemish sports clubs (26,000), infrastructures (21,000), more than 2,500,000 sportsmen and women and 110,000 trainers. In the first phase of this project, we have gained a clear insight into the practice of sports in Flanders for the first time.”

Based on an initial data analysis, Sport Vlaanderen came to the conclusion that never before have people been practicing sports in sports clubs. There has been an increase of more than 16 percent of sports practice in a club context and an over 10 percent increase of sports clubs. “Those are data that we would never have known without this project,” says Hans Ponnet. “There are still many new data sources that we want to explore to gain even more insight. So we still have various challenges in the medium and long term ahead of is.”

Data warehouse supports policy choices

Sport Vlaanderen made a conscious choice for Microsoft Power BI, because there are many integration possibilities, including the website which is SharePoint oriented. Hans Ponnet: “After making that choice, we developed a data warehouse with the Kohera consultants. The Kohera experts built a data warehouse with SSIS for the ETL and SSAS for building cubes, which served as back ends for reporting processes in Power BI. The next phase consisted of developing new domains and adding new data to help us make policy choices.”

“Meanwhile, we have developed eight cubes, eight different domains in the data warehouse. Thanks to this, we can now start linking those data and make analyses.
During the project, we also migrated from an on-premise SQL Server environment to an Azure environment to have a clear view of the costs and be fully prepared for the future.”

Data available to third parties

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

The government institution also aims to involve partner organizations in the project, such as municipalities or sports federations, by developing plugins. “We integrate these into closed environments, where, for example, a sports federation can find information for itself and benchmark against others. 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 opting for a Microsoft product, the agency started looking for a suitable partner. “We chose Kohera because they are the household name in the field of Microsoft technologies. Moreover, they have already completed various successful projects for other agencies of the Flemish and federal government.”

Hans Ponnet: “Kohera is an indispensable partner in this story for us. There has always been a very strong collaboration between the Kohera consultants and the other consultants who work here during this Power BI project. Kohera experts Nico and Philippe work here a few days a week and have put their hearts and souls on this project. I hope they too have learned a few things from me, because I certainly have learned from them. They have make a huge 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 very much like to continue this with the same people and the same support from Kohera.”