Use Power Query to Compare Database Records - Excelerator BI

Use Power Query to Compare Database Records

Level: Intermediate

I was helping a user on this week. The user had a list of service desk tickets for multiple customers and the requirement was to identify when a customer opened a second new ticket within 7 days of closing a previous ticket.  This is not an uncommon scenario so I thought it would make a good blog article.


One of the challenges that new users have when using Power BI is to decide if they should use Power Pivot (DAX modelling) or Power Query (PQL shaping) to solve each problem.  And if the answer is DAX, then they also need to decide if it should be a measure or calculated columnThere is no one single correct answer to these questions and it always depends on the circumstances.  I generally recommend to shape your data properly prior to loading to Power Pivot, that way the DAX formulas are easier to write and the reporting database will be more performant.   I looked at the options for this problem and decided to use Power Query to shape the data before loading.  Power Pivot and DAX are not really designed to do ordinal row comparisons, so this task is better handled with Power Query.

For this particular problem I thought I would produce a video that demonstrates one way in which this problem can be solved.  Here it is.

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33 thoughts on “Use Power Query to Compare Database Records”

  1. Hey Matt,

    Thanks for posting this! It solved my issue and taught me a few new tricks! Keep up the great content

  2. Would there be a way to count the duplicates per row? For example. lets say customer ABC had 3 instances where the closed date was within the 7 day range, would there be a way to label each duplicate as such:

    Cus Name | Duplicate Count
    ABC | 1 (original record)
    ABC | 2 (within 7 days of original)
    ABC | 3 (within 7 days of original)
    ABC | 4 (within 7 days of original)

    1. Hi Bans,
      You can group your data by Customer, and then Count Rows of the Records for EACH duplicated Close Date label. This will give you the total number of tickets within 7 days.
      Count numer of duplicate Close Date Labels

      If instead, you are interested in simply tagging each record with an Index number unique to the customer, you can do this by grouping your data by customer, and then add an index to each grouped table.
      Index grouped tables

      Check out the Power Query Academy, to learn how to be a Power Query Ninja!

  3. Amilkar Ferrá Díaz

    Hello Matt, thanks for take your time with this explanation, i am using another way to do the same and I’m not sure which of both options are better in performance speaking, the trick I’m using is to add an index column and get the previous row using the previosTable{index-1} of the actual row ex:
    PreviousRowAmount= #”PreviousTable”{[Index]-1}[Amount]
    if I have a table with a lot of records … do u think is better to use your trick ???

    Thanks very much!!!!

  4. Nagabhushan Muthurl

    Thanks Matt. Above video to compare rows and find difference with Indexes helped me to achieve my requirement.

  5. Dear Matt,
    I have posted example in power BI support.
    It will be highly appreciate if you can help. This is similar issue as you have explain but I have another column Type. So my requirement is to get difference between current row and it’s previous row who’ type is visit, if it doesn’t found match in previous row it will search for next row and search until it not found the match.

  6. Hi,
    This is great example but my requirement is to get the difference between current ticket and previous who’s type is visit. In this scenario it will only give the difference between current ticket and previous but not based on filter column. Please help I am working one of the report but not able to find solution.

  7. hello Matt that good example, I would like to know if you can do the same considering more than a previous row, for example that they were more than one previous row. Thank you. regards

  8. Literate Aspects

    How to load DBF files? Any suggestions? As I understand, as of Excel 2016 file extension support was removed.

    1. I assume you can use the same approach I describe in the article. first sort the table appropriately and then fetch the previous end date from the previous record into the current record. From there, just check if there is an overlap between the start date of the current record with the end date of the previous record.

  9. Sweet! Great trick and it solve (I think at least) a problem I have been scratching my head about for some time. (“Rouge” record in cvs file that belongs with the one above it in the middle of the record.)

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