Financial Planning Accelerator

146 days after Microsoft announced the discontinuation of the PerformancePoint Planning module, Microsoft has made the PPS Planning source code and project files available on a no-cost, individual license basis for customers and partners. It has been rebranded as Financial Planning Accelerator (FPA) and is unsupported. Interestingly, on the same web page that contains the June 18, 2009 announcement, Microsoft spotlights planning alternatives such as Clarity Systems, Calumo, and Longview Planning. I have not had a chance to work with any of these alternatives, but hope to work with one or more in the future. I’ve closed the chapter of my life working with PPS Planning and have no intention of working with it even though it’s free.

Official announcement
Financial Planning Accelerator
Microsoft is pleased to make available the Financial Planning Accelerator (FPA). The FPA is source code and project files derived from the PerformancePoint Server 2007 Planning module. Based on requests from customers and partners, we are making this code available on a no-cost, individual license.

This is unsupported source code that customers and partners can use to support or change PerformancePoint Server Planning functionality. Derived object code files can be distributed to end users with Microsoft SharePoint Server Enterprise Client Access Licenses. To obtain access to the FPA a license agreement between Microsoft and the customer or partner is required. After that agreement is in place, download instructions will be made available.

Please e-mail to request the agreement.


Master in Business Intelligence from SJU

Last November I authored a post comparing different Masters in Business Intelligence programs offered at four universities located in the United States.  You can review my analysis by clicking here.  St. Joseph’s University has posted a video on YouTube describing their online MSBI program.  If you are considering this masters degree from SJU, I would recommend watching the video.  It is nine minutes long.  The first four minutes define Business Intelligence and the final five minutes describe the program.  I am strongly considering enrolling in this program at SJU in the Fall of 2010.  I need to wait this long because I have two children in diapers and I’m wanting them to get a bit older before taking on a masters program.  Anyway, check out the video and maybe we’ll be classmates someday!

– ez

Book Review: The Performance Management Revolution


I just finished reading The Performance Management Revolution: Business Results Through Insight and Action by Howard Dresner.  I chose this book because of the respect I have for Howard Dresner due to what he’s done for BI and EPM (Enterprise Performance Management), not to mention his past leadership role at Hyperion as Chief Strategy Officer.  Also, the title of the book peaked my curiousity and I wanted to gain insight into what Dresner has termed the Performance Management Revolution.  He begins the book by luring the reader with why he feels we are admist a Performance Management Revolution.  Throughout the book, he hits on his term, Information Democracy, which is “a principle of equality that demands actionable insight for all.”  It gives the “ability of everyone to access data, turn it into knowledge and insight through analysis, and share that insight with others.” 

I very much enjoyed reading the book.  I felt he did a good job distinguishing the differences between BI and EPM as these terms often become blended together.  The book describes how to implement EPM, going into detail on such topics as why you need an EPM Center of Excellence, how to create one, and what they should do.  If you are looking for a book that teaches you how to create KPI’s and how to best design a dashboard layout, you will want to look elsewhere.  But if you are needing to implement an Enterprise-wide Performance Management solution, this is a great book for setting you straight.  I particularly liked the chapter on gaining user adoption. 

The book is broken into three sections: 1. A Call to Arms.  2. Preparing For Battle.  3. Let the Revolution Begin.  Part One defines EPM and it’s role, thus providing justification for an EPM solution at your organization.  Part Two tells you what you are going to need to get started and the tasks to help the success rate of your EPM system.  Examples include drawing an accountability map, building an EPM Center of Excellence, standardizing and consolidating EPM tools, and how to deploy an EPM system.  Part Three helps you assess your immediate priorities based upon a series of questions.  Dresner dives into his concept of a “model EPM methodology”.  He follows the steps of implementation, education, change management, etc.  The book concludes with an excellent glossary of EPM/BI terminology. 

Dresner has turned me into a Performance Management Revolutionary.  Count me in for the revolution!  Click here to purchase the book from Amazon.

Between Assignments

I am currently between assignments right now.  I just rolled off the client that I had been consulting at for nearly the past four years.  We accomplished a great deal in the areas of Business Intelligence and Corporate Performance Management.  We implemented PerformancePoint Planning into production prior to the software being released to the public.  If you have any BI / CPM needs in the St. Louis, Missouri area, shoot me an email at dstre at hotmail dot com, and we can discuss how I, along with my employer, might be able to assist you.  Looking forward to hearing from you!

Book Review: Drive Business Performance

Drive Business Performance

Drive Business Performance

A few months ago I read a great Performance Management (PM) book entitled Drive Business Performance: Enabling a Culture of Intelligent Execution by Bruno Aziza and Joey Fitts.  This 278 page book not only outlines the key components of a successful PM solution, but provides details how a PM solution can impact the culture of your organization.  The authors have created a PM maturity model that contains six stages.  They refer to it as the Six Stages of Performance Management Value.

1.  Increase Visibility
2.  Move Beyond Gut Feel
3.  Plan for Success
4.  Execute on Strategy
5.  Power to Compete
6.  Culture of Performance

In the last stage, the Culture of Performance, an organization has created a Performance Management culture where employees are empowered to make good decisions and effectively execute the right things.  It goes into a belief where managing performance must become a part of an organization’s DNA.  The authors provide examples along the way of various companies that are at each stage.  In addition, they provide a framework for measuring your own organization to see where you fit into the model and provide solutions for how to improve.

In addition, the authors effectively disect the three core capabilities to manage performance.
Monitor:  What happened?  What is happening?
Analyze:  Why?
Plan:     What will happen?  What do I want to happen?
The book breaks down each capability and describes how a Performance Management solution can be most effective.

After reading this book, I was able to create a two hour “Introduction to Performance Management” class by simply following the structure of the book.  I recommend Drive Business Performance to executives, directors, and managers that are wanting to improve their organizations.  This is also a great read for consultants wanting to get a better understanding of Performance Management.

On a personal note, I was very interested in the book because one of the companies they examined is a client of mine.  I enjoyed learning Fitts and Aziza’s opinions on my client’s PM solution that I’ve been so heavily involved in.

One thing to note, the authors are tightly aligned with Microsoft’s PM solution, PerformancePoint Server 2007.  However, not once in the book do they mention the software.  I think its a good thing they did not promote a particular technology.  They did write a follow-up book with some other authors, entitled Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007.  This book continues on their concepts and describes how PerformancePoint can be a technology used to achieve their Culture of Performance.  But you definitely do not need to be aligned with Microsoft Technologies to enjoy Drive Business Performance.

Grab a copy and read it for yourself.   There are also audio versions available as well.

Also, click here to read a review from Business Finance Magazine. 

– ez

My Farewell to PerformancePoint Planning

Seventeen months after PerformancePoint Server was made available to the general public (September 2007), Microsoft has announced today (January 23, 2009) that they are discontinuing the Planning module.  The Monitoring & Analytics module will be moved to Office 14 SharePoint.  Planning will receive one more update with a Service Pack 3 release in mid-2009 and will be supported for existing customers. 

Official Microsoft Video Announcement from Guy Weismantel

On a personal note, I am truly disappointed as I have invested a great deal of time learning the Planning module.  I learned of this announcement yesterday and I spent last night reflecting over my experiences with the help of a few beers.  I have been working with the software since May 2007, four months prior to the release date.  I dove in head first and have read nearly four PerformancePoint books.  I received my PerformancePoint certification in June 2008.  I had recently begun writing a white paper on PPS Planning Data Integration using SQL Server Integration Services.  As I reflect over the past two years of my career, I remind myself that it’s not all for naught.  I’ve learned a great deal about Business Performance Management and Business Intelligence that will still apply to my career.  Through this blog, I have met some terrific people across the globe who shared the same passion and aspirations around PerformancePoint.  And for that, I am very thankful.  For those of you silent readers, I hope you have found my postings useful.  My blog will live on.  I haven’t determined the format yet, but it will surely focus on other areas of Business Intelligence and wherever my work and life experiences may take me.  You haven’t heard the last from me.

Friends and curious readers, I raise my glass, and offer a toast to new beginnings. 

I will conclude with a quote from the last line in the movie, Gladiator, as I say my farewell to Planning:

“And now we are free.  I will see you again… but not yet… Not yet!”


Update January 26, 2009:

Here are a couple links to published articles on the rise and fall of PerformancePoint Planning.

Running the Microsoft All Up BI 7.1 VPC on an external hard drive

Yesterday I decided to check out a VPC (Virtual Personal Computer) image that Microsoft offers as a free download.  I found links to the Microsoft All Up BI VPC 7.1 on Russell Christopher’s blog.

This VPC contains everything you would ever want related to Microsoft BI.  SQL Server 2005, PerformancePoint, SharePoint, ProClarity, Office 2007, etc.  Hmm, I wonder when they’ll create an updated VPC with SQL Server 2008…

Anyway, I haven’t had much time to play around with it yet, but I did want to share a minor obstacle I had to overcome to get the VPC running.  I wanted to copy all the VPC files to my Western Digital My Passport 250 GB external hard drive.  However, I kept receiving an error that the drive was out of space.  This left me scratching my head because I could see I had over 230 GB of free space.  After some discussion with a co-worker, we decided I needed to reformat the external hard drive.  It comes out of the package formatted using FAT32.  FAT32 can only handle up to a 4 GB file.  That’s why I was receiving an out of space error.  So, I copied the contents of my external hard drive to my laptop (which is running Windows XP), and then opened up Computer Management by right clicking on “My Computer” and selecting “Manage”.  From here you can find “Disk Management” under “Storage”.  Select the correct drive for your external hard drive and format using NTFS.  I didn’t time how long it took, but it sure seemed like about an hour or so.  Once complete, my hard drive could store the VPC.  From that point, it wasn’t long before I was up and running.  Now I just need to figure out how I’m going to snag some more RAM for my laptop, because 2 GB of RAM is simply not enough!  I found some tips on a blog for speeding up the All Up VPC version 6, but I haven’t tried them out yet.  Another task for another day.

By the way, older operating systems won’t be compatible with NTFS.  From what I’ve read, it sounds like Windows 95/98/Me won’t recognize NTFS.  So, if you’re running an older operating system, be sure to do your homework prior to reformating your external hard drive.

– ez