Microsoft BI Dashboard Evolution

Let’s catch up to speed with Microsoft’s strategy around scorecards & dashboards, key elements of your business performance management or enterprise performance management strategy. When I blogged from the product teams around PerformancePoint Server solutions here, up until 2008, PerformancePoint Server was the stand-alone server-based solution that brought together Business Scorecard Manager (BSM), Biz Sharp (PPS Planning) and Proclarity as part of Microsoft’s EPM strategy.

When I left for Oracle, I watched very closely the Microsoft change in strategy to move those capabilities into SharePoint, now called PerformancePoint Services. The PPS blog which was PerformancePoint Server, now essentially PerformancePoint Services is great place for the latest from the product team.

Clearly, SharePoint is a very important strategic product within Microsoft. So much is being moved into SharePoint and performance management is just the latest example. I find this strategy to be fitting because we used to utilize SharePoint for our dashboard presentations anyway, publishing Proclarity reports, PPS scorecards, SSRS reports, Visio strategy maps and Excel services into SharePoint via PPS dashboards. Now that is part of the SharePoint 2010 Business Intelligence Services in SharePoint. I found this really very handy PDF graphic to help explain the services in SharePoint 2010 from a Microsoft partner’s web site based in Argentina.

So while you will use SQL Server as the database store for your relational data, multi-dimensional data and SharePoint data store, SharePoint will be your BI tool for building performance dashboards.

Some Background on PerformancePoint Server

When I was a product manager in Redmond, our team focused on the area of BI and scorecards typically referred to by the marketing term “Enterprise Performance Management” (EPM). This is the space currently led by Hyperion, Cognos and Business Objects (now Oracle, IBM & SAP, respectively) . Gartner refers to the space as Corporate Performance Management.

No matter what you call it, the intent of this solution space is to provide a way to measure your business using key performance indicators (KPIs), strategic measurable objectives and balanced scorecards.

When I was PM in 2008, PerformancePoint was a stand-alone tool that was going to provide the planning, measuring and presentation of these dashboards. Now with SQL Server 2008 R2 and SharePoint 2010, the strategic direction of EPM with PerformancePoint Server has changed. Much of the functionality of building balanced scorecards and dashboards resides in SharePoint.

That being said, I wrote a piece on using PPS (PerformancePoint Server) as an easy-to-use business-user tool that allows you to build dashboards of pre-built cube in SSAS. Since PPS is geered not toward DBAs or developers, but toward business user personas, this allows the business to build reports in balanced scorecard fashion, publish the dashboards on SharePoint, while utilizing a cube that was built by IT in SQL Server Analysis Services.

You can read my story here for the details.