PerformancePoint Services 2010 Review
Posted by Alan on January 6, 2010
A few weeks back TGO was contracted by a client to implement a dashboard solution for them. We had originally planned on rolling out the project using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and the M&A components of PerformancePoint Server. However, after some discussions we jointly agreed to roll out the project using SharePoint 2010 and PerformancePoint Services. Thanks to this project I think I can now offer some real-world insight to the new version.
So what do I think of PerformancePoint Services in SharePoint 2010? Overall I really like it. We didn’t experience any major “bugs”, there are many new and useful features and the learning curve was minimal. However, I am sure there are people out there who were expecting hundreds of new features and they will be disappointed. As for me, I am not complaining. OK, I take that back, I do have a couple of complaints.
Given the upheaval that the development team and the product itself must have experienced during the last year, I am impressed with what they accomplished with this release. And now that they have the tighter integration with SharePoint and PowerPivot is available I really look forward to the future of B.I. from Microsoft.
So here is my quick list of some of the new things that ended up coming into play during our first project with 2010 that I really like:
- Natively Build Dashboards — one of the features of Dashboard Designer allows you to create and publish a dashboard. You pull in your items and publish the dashboard and a web page is created for you automatically. In 2007, if you really wanted a professional look and feel this function was not ideal and to really get what you wanted you had to create a SharePoint web part page and add the PerformancePoint web parts and manually configure them. Now, the web pages created in the Dashboard Designer can really stand on their own. So much in fact, that I think this may now be the default way to publish dashboards to SharePoint.
- Stacked Items — if you ever struggled with having to cram too much into a single web page then you will like the stacking. With it you can layer multiple items over one another and then choose which one to view via a drop down list. Note: As Nick pointed out below, you had this in 2007 with the “native dashboards”, I was thinking of the SharePoint created dashboards.
- SharePoint for Storage — in 2010 all your important items (i.e., data connections, KPI’s, charts, etc.) are stored in a SharePoint document library which gives you the capability to use functions like versioning and check in/check out.
- Pie Charts — never again must we face the embarrassement of explaining to a client that while implementing their enterprise BI solution that we couldn’t accomodate their request for a simple pie chart.
- Multiple Actuals, Multiple Variances and Calculated Measures — all items that make displaying information the way people really want to look at it far, far easier.
- Decomposition Tree — all I can say is WOW! This thing is slick and the folks who decided to do it in Silverlight and who then developed it should all get a raise.
As with any project and any new product there have to be some things that are not perfect. So here is the quick list of things that are causing me some frustration:
- Relational Chart/Grids Only Through Excel Services — in 2007 if you wanted to create a chart or data grid off of a non-SSAS data source you could do it within the application. It wasn’t perfect, but it was available. In 2010, any chart or data grid coming from a non-SSAS source must first be created in Excel Services. Now you do get much greater functionality, but for simple displays of information this extra step does add an additional layer of effort and complexity.
- Loss of Heat/Tree Maps and Scatter Diagrams — AAARRRRGGGG!!!! Yes we had to use the ProClarity components to source these, but they were very powerful and they looked really cool. I can only hope that this functionality is on the top of the new feature list for PerformancePoint Services 201x.
So did the PerformancePoint team hit a home run with this release? I can’t give them that, but I can say they got themselves a stand-up triple.