One of the biggest changes that this new release of PerformancePoint Services is that the product itself is now part of SharePoint 2010 as a service application. When SharePoint 2010 is deployed, PerformancePoint Services is already included and just needs to be configured.

In everything I have read about PerformancePoint Services, I have found an introduction to performance management process as the framework in which PerformancePoint Services should be considered. The vast majority of performance management process highlight definitions are a mixture of several components, including tools for IT, software and methodologies, which allow the definition of goals and their monitoring.

When talking about PerformancePoint Services, we are often only describing the software or perhaps the tools. However, the methodology is not part of the product as such, and one must take this into account when designing a strategy for monitoring each chosen business process. Once a strategy is defined on paper, then we can move to a PerformancePoint Services implementation phase. This product allows us to mirror the hierarchies of objects necessary in the business environment. It performs calculations that are grouped in a parent key performance indicator (KPI) unit in such a way that each level of the KPI hierarchy can be configured to give its values the appropriate weight to determine its contribution to an ancestor. In addition, a KPI can be configured by setting it as Objective, which lets us evaluate several KPIs, rolling up the results even if the children have different types of data. This would happen for example, with numeric KPIs rolled up with KPIs expressed in percentages. An example of this methodology is “The Balanced Scorecard” from Norton & Kaplan.

Just a little bit of history:

The first time Microsoft stepped into performance management was with Microsoft Office Solution Accelerator in 2003 – Figure 1. This product let you create some KPIs and strategy maps based on Visio, which could then be visualized through SharePoint 2003 Web Parts.

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A little bit later, Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager 2005 was released, which added a lot of functionality based on reports using Office Web Components 2003 – Figure 2.

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Then, Microsoft purchased ProClarity and included some of its elements in the new version – Figure 3. It included a type of report which allowed the integration of the rest of ProClarity which was not integrated yet. The product was composed of two different parts: the one mentioned above and a new one called Planning, whose objectives were forecast, budgeting and consolidation of complex financial environments.

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Finally, Microsoft recently released PerformancePoint Services as a service application of Microsoft SharePoint 2010 – Figure 4. In my opinion, this new Monitoring application integrates the most valuable component of ProClarity, the decomposition tree, which is a very intuitive way of visualizing data that lets you analyze the root cause of your figures. We will spend some time later describing this and other new functionalities of this release.

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How should a model be when the requirements are based on a Dashboard?

I recently had the opportunity to work on a couple of projects where the requirements were based on a balanced scorecard KPI. At first glance, it seemed like all of the company’s business processes would be involved in my solution. Upon further considerations though, I have found two different designing models:

  • The first one is based on the business processes of the company and it is the one I consider to be the most appropriate. In this method, you design your model using dimensions and facts in the usual way; your figures will be, for example, in the format of Sales Amount by Channel by Year. Finally, you build your KPI comparing the actual values against given objectives. In fact, you finish the definition of your KPIs as an object in a cube with some of the next properties actual value, objective, and maybe status or trend.
  • The second way I have found is based on a measure group having a column to designate the value of a KPI, and other columns containing the foreign keys of other dimensions. One of the other columns has the definition of the KPIs and sometimes hierarchies of KPIs. I think this second model is very difficult to use for general proposals and of course it is a much greater space consumer than the first one as the time goes on.

 

What’s new in PerformancePoint Services versus PerformancePoint Server 2007 (PPS2007)?

One of the biggest changes that this new release brings is that the product itself is now part of SharePoint 2010 as a service application. When SharePoint 2010 is deployed, PerformancePoint Services is already included and just needs to be configured. The configuration steps include enabling services on the farm, enabling PerformancePoint content on a site collection, creating security settings and configuring a planned site to be a BI center site using the BI Center Template.

The PerformancePoint Services is a new Monitoring application that integrates the most valuable component of ProClarity, the decomposition tree. The application is a very intuitive way of visualizing data and lets you analyze the root cause of your figures

As a result of this integration into SharePoint, there are also changes in the repository: all PerformancePoint objects now reside in SharePoint lists and libraries, which facilitates the security administration and disaster recovery.

PPS Monitoring database has been eliminated as well as reports based on Office Web Components 2003 (Trend / Analysis Chart, Pivot Chart, Pivot Tables and Spreadsheet Reports). The way of managing security has also been changed: security based on elements is no longer available and access to Analysis Services 2000 data sources has been eliminated.

Another great difference between PPS 2007 and PerformancePoint Services is that the new release cannot be installed on 32-bit as a result of this integration. The entire product has to be installed on 64-bit.

Decomposition Tree example

Decomposition Tree example

From a functionality point of view, several components have been improved. One would say that the suggestions of the developers have been taken into account and there is much more flexibility for designing a Scorecard.

It is now possible to arrange KPIs in columns, change the KPI configuration to show the Score or Variance, use several targets, drill down / up, cross drill, drill trough to details, and analyze in decomposition tree from almost anywhere.

The integration of the decomposition tree is the key element in this release and most customers will probably no longer need to keep ProClarity working in parallel with PerformancePoint Services.

The KPI Detail Report has also been added in this release. Its objectives are to provide information to the user about the configuration of a KPI and the thresholds of its state, or if it is formed to reflect decrement situations is better or increasing is better. All this information is available just by selecting the KPI of a Scorecard.

It is very easy to configure the KPI Detail Reports as you can see in the figure. Just configure the connection drop down and specify the connection Endpoints.

The final result is that when you are browsing a Dashboard and click on the KPI, the KPI Detail Report shows you how the KPI value was obtained – Figure 8. This is important information as the value of a KPI score is sometimes unclear and it is very useful to see what the configured banding method is or what type of calculation was performed (Increasing is Better) and the thresholds established over band.

We will be talking about filters in a later chapter.

Integrating data

A very important question is where do the customers have their data and what kind of data sources can be used to get data to feed KPIs. Of course, when accessing data
from any of the Microsoft product stack, there are plenty of options – Figure 9. But it is now also possible to read Oracle by using Business Connectivity Services as you can see by visiting the following link http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg247614.aspx,or connecting KPIs to SAP BW data using a third-party upplier.

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Playing with PerformancePoint Services

There is no doubt about the capacity of PerformancePoint Services to work with complex hierarchies of KPIs that can cover multiple situations.

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But there are other components in form of reports that can complement the summarized information of KPIs if required, or maybe just use PerformancePoint to design a couple of analytic reports because this is just what is needed.

In the below sample, I have been playing to supplement KPI information with Reports, but I made it a little bit different. You can design a Scorecard and complement it with a map as shown in the sample – Figures 10 & 11. I simply found a world map for Visio and created a Strategy Map based on the KPIs shown in the figure.

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In this Visio map, each country has been mapped to a KPI in a given Scorecard, or several countries have been mapped to the same region as you can see with Asia. The colors of the countries will be changing dynamically driven by the KPI scores. This is a functionality that has been present since the first release with the use of Strategy Maps.

Using Excel Services reports allows us to integrate PowerPivot workbooks into a Dashboard. This is another example of a hidden opportunity used to complement KPI information and it is quite simple: once we finish the authoring part we need to save it in a PowerPivot gallery. This allows us to use it later in a Dashboard by choosing an Excel Services report. Using this kind of integration gives us three different ways to save the workbook to the Report gallery and which way we should choose depends on the number of items we want available to be arranged later – Figure 12.

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The first option “Entire Workbook” lets us arrange all items from the workbook in the report. By saving using the “Sheets” option, we will have just the items included in the selected sheet. The last option, ”Items in the Workbook”, lets us choose individual items to be included independently even if they come from different sheets – Figure 14.

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The workbook published as “Entire Workbook” does not have the combo option to select items but instead, it arranges all the items published at once – Figure 13. What’s new is the possibility of jointly publishing PivotTable, charts and slicers, letting us filter dynamically. This element was previously called a PowerPivot Workbook.

If we chose “Items in the Workbook”, this will later allow us to interact in the Dashboard by picking items from the combo view just one item at a time.
I wanted to spend a little time talking about the filter element which I think has improved and has been given more importance among other features we will discuss later. Filters are no longer dependent on the Dashboard element and have turned into first-class objects, which also allows you to re-use them in several Dashboards.
Since PerformancePoint Services has now been fully integrated with SharePoint 2010, we should not speak of filters in general terms.
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To be more specific, the filters that we referred to in the previous paragraph are PerformancePoint Services native filters. In this release, we have the possibility to use the filters configured in PPS, or we can reconfigure new filters using SharePoint 2010 native filters. We can decide which filters we want to interact on our scorecard or report – Figure 15
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I would like to highlight the possibility of configuring a connection to Analysis Services from Excel and store the resulting ODC connection file in a SharePoint 2010 library. We can then use that connection to create a filter and take the members of a hierarchy and configure them so that they serve to condition the data to be displayed by other elements. Another interesting feature is the ability to configure a text filter that lets a user manually enter the values to use as a filter.
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To configure SharePoint filters with PerformancePoint Services elements, we must do so while editing the Web Part by configuring the connections as shown in Figures 16 & 17. This can be done from the parameter sender or from the parameter receiver element.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I think that PerformancePoint Services is a tool easy to use once you get familiarized with the development environment. It is quite versatile and can be integrated with almost any of the Microsoft BI tools. As far as the licensing goes, you should purchase a SharePoint 2010 Enterprise plus CAL license if you want to use PerformancePoint Services.  Looking at the competition, PerformancePoint Services can be compared to some of the features offered by Microstrategy, Analyzer 3.0 Strategy Companion, Portal Server, Crystal Xcelsius or Qlikview, but unlike them, PerformancePoint Services is now fully integrated with SharePoint 2010.

We should add to the features discussed above, the facility that provides the new architecture to deliver high availability and load balancing so that PerformancePoint Services can be configured easily on the SharePoint farm by adding more servers to provide these features.

In future articles, I’ll explain in step-by-step details how to use these functionalities.

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