Spotlight Session Insight: BarnOwl’s New, State of the Art, Web-Based Application

May 26, 2023

Introduction and Agenda

Thank you very much to everyone who joined the Spotlight session on the 25th May 2023 on Version 11. We trust that you found the session informative and that you like the new version 11 interface. Although the new interface takes a bit of ‘getting used to’, we have no doubt that you and your team will find it easy and a pleasure to work with in time. We also trust that you will get a lot of value out of the standard Power BI and SSRS reports that are now included with BarnOwl at no additional cost. You will find links to the presentation and to the Teams recording towards the end of this article under ‘Useful links’.

Version 11 offers our clients a fresh, modern and simplified web-based user interface utilising the latest web-based technology. At present, version 11.1 incorporates BarnOwl’s risk management Lite functionality, however over time will incorporate much of the ‘Rich’ (desktop app) functionality across all modules (i.e. risk, compliance and audit). In parallel, we continue to enhance the desktop app across all modules (i.e. risk, compliance and audit) to deliver new and enhanced functionality. We are very excited to announce the release of version 11.1. The following topics were covered in our version 11 spotlight session:

  • BarnOwl v11 introduction
  • Why upgrade to BarnOwl version 11?
  • The BarnOwl version 11 roadmap
  • What does BarnOwl v11.1 mean for me?
  • Features of BarnOwl v11.1
  • BarnOwl Power BI and SSRS reporting
  • Demo of BarnOwl v11.1
  • In summary, upgrading to BarnOwl v11
  • How do I upgrade to BarnOwl v11.1?
  • Conclusion

Please download the presentation for more detail on each of these topics.

Why upgrade to BarnOwl version 11?

Some of the reasons for upgrading to BarnOwl version 11 include:

  • Upgrade BarnOwl to the latest web-based technology
  • Modern and fresh user interface
  • Simplified navigation
  • Standardised look & feel across all registers and forms (pages)
  • Risk on a page simplifies risk taxonomy
  • Performance enhancements
  • Functional improvements
  • Minor patches


The BarnOwl roadmap

Whilst, we continue to enhance the BarnOwl ‘rich’ desktop application (risk, compliance, audit) driven predominantly by client requests, industry standards and best practice, we have a parallel development stream focussed  on moving as much of our ‘rich’ functionality into our new, modern look & feel web-based application. Version 11.1 show-cases BarnOwl’s new, modern look & feel with all the essential risk management functionality. The following is an indication of BarnOwl’s version 11 roadmap:

  • V11.1 (BarnOwl Web risk management) (February 2023)
  • V11.2 (BarnOwl Web voting (RCSAs, Surveys, Questionnaires)) (mid 2023)
  • V11.3 (BarnOwl Web reporting) (end 2023)
  • V11.4 (Internet facing Votes, Surveys & Questionnaires) (early 2024)
  • Administrative tasks will remain in the Windows App
  • Standard built-in reports will remain in the desktop app
  • Standard Power BI and SSRS reporting off the BarnOwl native database (included at no additional cost on request)
  • Advanced Power BI and SSRS reporting off the BarnOwl data warehouse (additional purchased license)


What does Version 11.1 mean for me?

  • V11.1 essentially replaces the existing web-based BarnOwl Lite interface with a new modern interface utilising the latest web-based technology.
  • No changes have been made to the BarnOwl Rich desktop app. BarnOwl Rich will still work exactly the same way.
  • A web-based Lite license is included with every Rich license. Therefore, a Rich user has the option of using the Lite web-based interface or the desktop Rich interface or both interfaces for certain functions (e.g. reports in Rich versus simplified capture / maintenance of risks in Lite).
  • The advantage of the new V11.1 web-based interface is that it is:

      – easy to navigate

      – easy to capture and maintain all risk related data (risk on a page)

      – performs well (i.e. is fast) over a slow network such as a VPN

      – V11.3 (scheduled late 2023) will include built-in reports

  • Version 11.1 incorporates bug fixes / minor enhancements so it is advisable to upgrade to V11.1
  • The Rich desktop app continues to offer:

      – built-in reporting

      – drill-down registers whereby you can expand a register (e.g. the risk register) to see detailed child registers (contributing factors, controls, KIs, action plans etc.). However this is also what makes BarnOwl Rich appear complex

      – administrative functions such as applying of processes, risk templates, votes, permission setting, risk framework configuration etc.

Features of BarnOwl v11.1

  • Landing page giving the user a heads up of work items (Action plans, Votes, Key Indicators, RAPs) (v10)
  • New look & feel organisational structure (option in SMC to include processes)
  • Registers (Clean look & feel with column filtering, field selection, sorting, drag & drop columns, grouping, favourite views, global search (across multiple fields))

      – Objective Register

      – Risk Register (focal point)

      – My Key Indicators

      – My Action plans

      – Incident registers

      – My Voting

  • Register menus:

      – Actions (Link record, Unlink record)

      – This View (Clear filters, Wrap all, Unwrap all, Reset, Export to Excel, Export to PDF, Add to My BarnOwl)

      – Favourite View (New, Update, Edit, Delete, manage, Select)

  • Link / Unlink:

      – Easy to search library and link an existing record to a unit or create a new library record

      – Easy to unlink a record from a unit

      – Easy to maintain library records (new, merge, delete with administrator permissions) (v10)

  • On loading a form / page:

      – Logical menu options: Action ( Save&Close, Save, Unlink from Unit), View (History, Model, Linked)

      – Logical tabs: Library record, Linked objects, Unit detail, Ratings, Owners, Custom fields

  • Risk Structure:

      – Risk on a page with easy navigation to all associated objects (objectives, controls, contributing factors, action plans, key indicators, incidents, parent risks, child risks, votes, audit projects)

      – Context sensitive menus (including collapse all / expand all)

Reporting #1 – Standard Power BI Dashboards (directly off the BarnOwl database)

  • BarnOwl now provides standard Risk, Compliance and Audit Power BI dashboards at no additional cost
  • The user needs to have downloaded Microsoft Power BI desktop (free version) in order to view the BarnOwl dashboards. In some cases, your IT department have will have Power BI server which has further advantages
  • Whilst we (BarnOwl) will show you the basics of how to use the BarnOwl Power BI dashboards, BarnOwl does not provide or offer training on Power BI. (in the same way that we do not offer Excel training)
  • The Client is welcome to request customisation to the standard BarnOwl Power BI dashboards on a quotation or Platinum services basis
  • The Client is welcome to make their own changes to the Power BI dashboards. Note: Always work on a copy of the original. BarnOwl does not support client modified dashboards
  • BarnOwl’s standard Power BI dashboards run directly off the BarnOwl database (as opposed to the BarnOwl warehouse). With a simple ‘refresh’ they pull in the latest data from the BarnOwl database
  • Currently, BarnOwl permissions are not built into the standard Power BI dashboards, so it is advisable for a Client administrator to filter and distribute the relevant dashboards to the intended audience.

Reporting #2 – Advanced Power BI dashboards (off the BarnOwl data warehouse)

  • The BarnOwl data warehouse provides more advanced Power BI dashboards. The BarnOwl data warehouse has a license cost associated with it
  • It is easier for the Client (IT department normally) to create their own dashboards off the data warehouse compared with the native BarnOwl database
  • The BarnOwl data warehouse is typically refreshed after hours by a batch job (service), so changes to the data are not immediately reflected in the warehouse Power BI dashboards.

Reporting #3 – SSRS (SQL Server Reporting Services) (directly off the BarnOwl database)

  • SSRS reports are tabular in nature as opposed to the graphical drill-down interactive Power BI dashboards
  • BarnOwl now provides a few standard SSRS reports at no additional cost
  • SSRS is included as part of Microsoft SQL server integration services at no additional cost; however integration services does require some configuration by the Client IT department
  • The Client is welcome to request customisation to the standard BarnOwl SSRS reports on a quotation or Platinum services basis
  • BarnOwl’s SSRS reports run directly off the BarnOwl database (as opposed to the BarnOwl warehouse). SSRS reports are always ‘live’ with no need to refresh data
  • Currently, BarnOwl permissions are not built into the standard SSRS reports, so it is advisable for a Client administrator to filter and distribute the relevant SSRS reports to the intended audience.

Latest web-based technology 

In summary, upgrading to v11.1:

  • replaces the existing BarnOwl Lite interface with BarnOwl’s new web interface which is modern, user friendly and performs well over slow networks such as VPN
  • addresses minor bug fixes / enhancements
  • has no effect on how you currently use the BarnOwl Rich desktop app (i.e. no changes have been made to the Rich desktop app)
  • will enable users to transition to the new BarnOwl web app in preference to the BarnOwl Rich desktop especially when v11.3 is released (scheduled for late 2023) with built-in reporting. Administrative tasks will however remain in BarnOwl Rich
  • includes standard Power BI and SSRS reports on request (generated directly from the BarnOwl database)
  • NB: Advanced Power BI and SSRS reporting generated off the BarnOwl data warehouse requires an additional purchased license.

How do I upgrade to v11?

New versions of BarnOwl contain not only the latest new features, but also performance enhancements and fixes.

The upgrade process is fully automated with a wizard-driven approach enabling Clients to upgrade themselves. This enables the Client to plan the timing of their Upgrade taking into consideration your IT approval processes, your change management process (i.e. communicating the impact of the new version to your users) and booking BarnOwl training where required:

  • Step 1: Download the ‘Whats New’ document to view what changes have been made to this version. The What’s new document includes links to the relevant topic in BarnOwl’s online help
  • Step 2: Download BarnOwl’s minimum System Requirements document and confirm with your IT, that your IT environment conforms to the technical requirements. For example .net framework 4.8 is required for version 11
  • Step 3: Download the Guides from the ‘Client Hub>Support Hub Login, Knowledge Base’ or request a copy from BarnOwlSupport.
  • Step 4: Ask your IT to download the Upgrade files and follow the Update Guides: Client Hub>Support Hub Login, Knowledge Base:

  • Make full backups of all the databases which will be upgraded. This includes Production and UAT/Training databases.
  • Ideally a UAT environment should be upgraded, tested and signed off by the Client BarnOwl champion before the Production environment is upgraded.
  • Warn your users that BarnOwl will not be available for the duration of the upgrade. It is important that users don’t attempt to log in to BarnOwl while you are upgrading the version.



  • Modern look & feel: easy and familiar to use
  • Easy navigation: embed risk management
  • Risk on a page: manage your risks in a simple and structured way
  • Performance: great performance over WAN / VPN
  • Enhanced functionality: custom field documents, action plan linked object, search visible text fields etc.
  • State of the art web-based technology: take advantage of leading edge technology

Useful links

Some useful links:

Please find the presentation here

Please find the spotlight recording here

About BarnOwl:

BarnOwl is a fully integrated governance, risk management, compliance and audit software solution used by over 150 organisations in Africa, Australasia and the UK. BarnOwl is a locally developed software solution and is the preferred risk management solution for the South African public sector supporting the National Treasury risk framework.

Please see for more information.