On June 6, Microsoft announced--with much fanfare--Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007. PerformancePoint Server is a combination of three performance-management products: Business Scorecard Manager for scorecarding and collaboration; ProClarity Analytics Server for rich end-user analysis; and a new financial-planning product formerly codenamed Biz#. I briefly covered Biz# in my March SQL Server Perspectives article "Microsoft Business Intelligence" ( http://www.sqlmag.com/articles/index.cfm?articleid=49792& ). Microsoft plans a PerformancePoint Server 2007 beta program this fall and expects to release the product mid-year 2007. (To find out more about PerformancePoint Server, check out the current Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server subsite, http://microsoft.com/performancepoint , and the June 6 press release "Microsoft to Expand Its Business Intelligence Product Line: Announcing Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007," http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/jun06/06-06PPS07PR.mspx .)

I'm excited about PerformancePoint Server, but because it's still almost a year away, I want to delve into what's still new but available now. Recently, I talked with Bruno Aziza, Microsoft product manager for Business Scorecard Manager, about some new features in Business Scorecard Manager 2005 since its release. Aziza focused on deeper integration of Microsoft Office Visio 2003 and Microsoft Office as well as Office and scorecard templates. The integration of Visio with Business Scorecard Manager, which Microsoft announced May 25, permits data integration between Visio Strategy Maps and Business Scorecard Manager.

Any day, Microsoft will release Business Scorecard Manager Scorecards, which will be integrated with Office applications, so users can pull a scorecard into a Microsoft Word document or a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation--a nice way to take your scorecards to the company meeting or annual report. Perhaps the most exciting development is the growing library of available scorecard templates. The templates facilitate rapid deployment while reducing much of the initial work needed to create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and compelling scorecards for common business areas or data sources. (For more information about the available templates, see Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager 2005 Sample Templates at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/assistance/HA101632921033.aspx .) Ten Microsoft partners have contributed about 33 scorecard templates across eight or nine technologies and soon there will be 40 new templates added representing five industries.

Aziza promised that PerformancePoint Server will offer straightforward installation through a consolidated installer and will require fewer prerequisites. For the time being, Microsoft provides a click-by-click installation guide, "Instructions for Installing Business Scorecard Manager 2005 with SQL Server 2005," http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/assistance/HA101056881033.aspx .

Business Scorecard Manager in PerformancePoint Server 2007 will offer a few notable features that are worth mentioning. Business Scorecard Manager will become less SharePoint-focused, so users can deploy it in non-SharePoint environments. In addition, security will be more consolidated, and simplified offline or printable scorecard distribution will be available through SQL Server Reporting Services. The release also will include native understanding of SharePoint filters and will replace Office Web Components with zero-footprint Office 2007 renderings. The Scorecard Builder UI will be more robust and will include preview capabilities, keyboard shortcuts, built-in template access, and new SAP Business Information Warehouse connectivity. I'm looking forward to all these added features in PerformancePoint Server 2007, but it's also good to see the Business Scorecard Manager release get a lot of attention.