Book Review: Business Intelligence with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007

As part of my new years resolution, I’ve been trying to add more “book smarts” to my “business intelligence street smarts”.  This means I’ve been spending more time reading books in my spare time to help further my career.  Thus far, I’ve actually been keeping up on my resolution which is far from the norm.  By nature, I loathe reading, but I decided to give it a try, and it hasn’t been so bad thus far.  My current focus has been on Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 (PPS).  This particular review covers the second book I’ve read on the subject, Business Intelligence with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 by Craig Utley.  On the cover there’s a quote, “An excellent introduction to PerformancePoint Server.”  I find this to be an accurate quote.  In my opinion, this book is best suited for a Project Manager or someone new to Microsoft Business Intelligence.  The first chapter is entitled, “The Case for Business Intelligence.”  It defines BI, identifies the consumers of BI, describes different methods of deliverying BI, and provides real world examples.  The second chapter gives a ten page overview of PerformancePoint Server.  Chapter Three spends thirty pages discussing Data Warehouse concepts such as dimensions, facts, ETL, and building cubes using Analysis Services.  Chapter Four defines Key Performance Indicators, gives advice on deciding what to track in your KPI’s and provides examples of various KPI’s used in multiple industries.  It then concludes with some scorecard discussion as well as strategy maps.  This is all accomplished in sixteen pages.  Chapter Five covers Monitoring and Analytics in 54 pages.  The author describes how to create data sources and scorecards, KPI’s, reports, strategy maps, and then how to put it all together using a Dashboard.  This chapter would give someone a head start with using M&A.  I found it to be easy reading.  Chapter Six is entitled “Analysis with PerformancePoint Server and ProClarity.”  45 of the 76 pages focused on ProClarity.  The rest dealt with Analytical Charts and Grid using PPS.  Chapter 7 covers PPS Planning, which I consider to be the most complex module of PPS.  This chapter was written by a contributing author, Sony Jose.  This chapter covers the basics of the Planning Administration Console, Planning Business Modeler and the add-in for Excel.  That is a lot of information to cram into 64 pages.  The content included was valuable and easy to read.  If you’re wanting to dive deep into the data integration automation or creating business rules using PEL (PerformancePoint Expression Language), you’ll need to look elsewhere.  I enjoyed the seven page section dedicated to process management.  The chapter provides a basic introduction to PPS Planning.  If you’re a PPS Planning developer, you’ll want to find other sources to gain full in-depth knowledge.  Chapter 8 covers the deployment and security aspects of PPS.  Within ten pages the author describes the software installation and configuration as well as security.  Chapter 9 is “Anaylsis with Excel 2007.”  The author spends nineteen pages detailing how to navigate within a cube using Excel 2007.  He also highlights any differences in functionality concerning cube navigation with Excel 2007 over its predecessor.  The final chapter covers SQL Server Reporting Services.  I ended up skimming this chapter as it wasn’t pertinent to my current assignment, but someone new to Reporting Services might find this 25 page section to be helpful.

Overall, I was surprised how quickly I was able to read through this 358 page book.  It was obvious to me that the author, Craig Utley, has a great deal of experience teaching Microsoft Business Intelligence.  I was pleased to read that the technical editor was Alyson Powell Erwin.  She’s a program manager for Microsoft that has a lot of experience with Monitoring and Analytics.  I have been fortunate enough to have been on many phone calls with Alyson where she provided us great technical support and suggestions for our project work at a client site.  She is well versed in M&A and would be a great choice for a technical editor.  If you’re a project manager or new to Microsoft Business Intelligence this would be a good book to introduce you to Microsoft PerformancePoint and other related Microsoft BI technologies.  If your needing to design and construct a complex PPS Planning application, you will likely want to supplement other materials to fully utilize the software.

– ez

Removing a PerformancePoint Dashboard from SharePoint Preview

After deploying several PerformancePoint M&A dashboards to SharePoint Preview at http://<servername&gt;:40000/Preview/, you may want to clean up your work by deleting some of the unused dashboards.  We found some dashboards on the Preview site that no longer existed in Dashboard Designer.  To delete the dashboards from the Preview site, go to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server\3.0\Monitoring\PPSMonitoring_1\Preview\ .  M&A creates a separate GUID folder in this directory for each dashboard.  Since it’s a GUID, you’ll need to open up each GUID folder and open the map.xml document.  The dashboard directory name should match the unwanted dashboard name.  If you don’t have a match, try a different GUID folder.  Once found, delete the entire GUID folder and this will remove the dashboard from the SharePoint “Preview”.

– ez