PPS offers strong BI features but Microsoft needs to better integrate components
Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 (PPS) has now settled into the market, and customers who need a consolidated business intelligence (BI) and performance management platform are well advised to consider adopting it. (For more information about PPS, see “What Do You Care About PerformancePoint Server?” August 2007, InstantDoc ID 96367, and the Microsoft PerformancePoint Server Developer Portal at msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/office/bb660518 .aspx. An upcoming article by Craig Utley in SQL Server Magazine dives deeper into PPS as well.) Future releases of PPS will arrive close together as Microsoft works to better integrate the various components. Looking to those future releases, here’s my list of top requests for changes I’d like to see Microsoft make to PPS.
Consolidate the environment. PPS doesn’t have a consolidated environment for developing in the Monitor, Analyze, and Plan components. Now we have Dashboard Designer, the ProClarity tools, and Planning Business Modeler. Please bring them together.
Simplify installation. Installation isn’t always a snap, and it gets tricky for distributed scenarios. It requires setting many permissions in different places, making sure Kerberos security is working correctly, and manipulating Service Principal Names (SPNs) for services accounts (setSPN.exe) to name a few tasks.
Add support for report items. In the Monitoring and Analysis areas, there’s no support for outgoing filter links on report items in dashboards. We need this support.
Add an “action” feature to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This feature could be similar to an Analysis Services Action that lets you launch another PPS view, open a SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) report, and jump to another application when you select a KPI.
Enable sharing of dashboard filters. Dashboard filters aren’t First Class Objects. Please change that so they can be shared across dashboards and so we can pass values from one dashboard filter to another.
Add finer control over dashboard layout. Too much dashboard real estate is wasted (e.g., dashboard filter drop-downs are hard coded at 400 pixels wide in tree and multi-select layouts) irrespective of data contained therein.
Add support for passing multiple Time Intelligence (TI) filter values from multiple data sources to the same scorecard. I’d like to see added support for building a scorecard with Actual sourced from an OLAP cube and Budget sourced from a tabular data source. Currently TI filter values are only applied to one data source.
In the Monitoring and Analysis areas, I’d like to see Microsoft remove Office Web Component (OWC) dependencies in all the report types. Here’s what I’m hoping for in support features:
- More ProClarity Analytic Server (PAS) chart types as well as support for PAS multi-chart capability.
- Support for sparkline creation (i.e., Edward Tufte's concept of embedded high resolution graphics the size of the text around them) in scorecards and reports.
- Completion of ProClarity product integration.
In the Planning area, I’d like to see Microsoft add the following features:
- Many-to-Many dimensions support. (Not all Cost Center dimensions require budgeting for all Expense Account dimensions, and there's no clean way to link the two dimensions to display only the relevant Expense Accounts for each Cost Center.)
- Graphical support for workflows.
- An interface that helps a financial analyst implement a business rule without having to learn T-SQL, MDX, or PerformancePoint Expression Language (PEL).
- Simple synchronization with SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) dimensions already in existence on SSAS servers so you don’t need to re-create them in PPS and then maintain them manually.
- Visualization capability in the Application/Model Site/Model hierarchy BPM.
- Ability for end-users to add Dimension members from a Microsoft Excel interface (a common customer request that might be opening Pandora’s box).