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SharePoint 2010 Insights – PerformancePoint Review Part 1 of 2

I am actually quite impressed with the initial evaluation of the new functionality with PerformancePoint and SharePoint 2010 (SP2010). In a series of two blogs I will try to point some of the big changes and improvements that are going to be included with the release of SP2010, specifically in relation to PerformancePoint Services. Some of the topics I will cover within the two blog series include:

Part 1:

  1. Ease of Installation – the setup to get PerformancePoint up and running is a lot easier than it used to be
  2. Content Storage – a separate installation of PerformancePoint Server is no longer needed in order to manage content
  3. PerformancePoint Web Parts – web parts make PerformancePoint content easier to manage and display to end users
  4. Data Sources – easy to setup, easy to use
  5. Tight Integration with SharePoint – PerformancePoint is truly integrated with SharePoint (huge improvements here!)

Part 2:

  1. General Enhancements – there have been improvements in how the Dashboards, Filters, Scorecards, and other content are developed and function
  2. Conclusion – my overall conclusion around PerformancePoint within SP2010
  3. Issues – issues that I have found with my installation of SP2010 and PerformancePoint
  4. Open Questions – open thoughts that I have around PerformancePoint, SP2010, and Microsoft BI

Ease of Installation:

PerformancePoint is pretty easy to install and setup. Here are the steps that I used in order to get PerformancePoint up and running.

  1. The first step to get PerformancePoint up and running is to run a quick install on the server. This installation process seems similar to the installation process that was previously needed to run SSRS in SharePoint Integrated Mode (which by the way is no longer needed in SP2010).
  2. Within Central Administration, the next step is to turn on the feature for the applicable web application, this is shown below:

  1. After the feature is activated for the web application, the next step is to turn on the feature for the site collection or individual site. Here is how to turn it on for the site collection within the Site Settings at the root:

Here is how to turn it on for an individual site within the Site Settings:

  1. In order to manage all of the PerformancePoint content including Dashboards, Scorecards, Graphs, and Filters, create a new site using the PerformancePoint (PPS) Enterprise Template. Within the site settings perform the following steps:

The standard New SharePoint Site screen is displayed. Clicking on the "Enterprise" tab within the "Template Selection" portion of the screen reveals a new site template entitled "PerformancePoint". Select the PerformancePoint template and create the site.

The result is shown below. This screen will be discussed more later within the blog, however, I would like to point out now that this is where Dashboard Designer can be accessed. Dashboard Designer is still a one-click technology and is the tool used to create all of the PerformancePoint content.

Content Storage:

A big change for PerformancePoint is in the location for which all of the developed content is stored. Instead of being stored in a separate PerformancePoint database, all of the content is now stored natively in SharePoint Lists and Libraries. The storage is very granular, meaning that Dashboards, Data Sources, Reports, KPIs, Scorecards, Graphs, and Filters are all stored as individual items within SharePoint. In the previous version of PerformancePoint a dashboard would be deployed to SharePoint as a single file and each individual item (i.e. Filter or Graph) could only be used within that dashboard. The granular storage of each item is a huge improvement because it gives each of the individual items the granularity and ability to be used anywhere within a SharePoint site. In other words, rather than deploying a dashboard to a site as in the previous version of PerformancePoint, content is now simply saved to a list or library and can be used almost anywhere within SharePoint!

The content can be found on the previously created PerformancePoint site by accessing the links in the upper left hand side of the screen. The Dashboards and Data Sources are stored in libraries, whereas the Dashboard Content is stored in a list.

Here is an example of what a Dashboard Content list may look like with some content saved to SharePoint:

Furthermore, since the content is stored within lists and libraries all of the standard SharePoint functionality such as security, versioning, work flows, and search can be leveraged to make the web parts even more functional within an enterprise or business.

PerformancePoint Web Parts:

Due to the changes with the PerformancePoint content storage, a developer can still deploy an entire dashboard, however, since content is stored in lists and libraries, each individual item can also be used within SharePoint as a web part. These new PerformancePoint web parts that can be used within SharePoint include Filters, Reports, Scorecards, and Stack Selectors. While editing a page, these web parts can be accessed as shown below:

A Stack Selector simply allows a user to "stack" multiple graphs and charts on top of each other in one area of a page, allowing a user to select each graph or chart from a dropdown menu to show the item of interest. This is useful when it is important to include a series of related graphs and charts on one page when an abundance of space is not available. The Stack Selector is shown below:

Data Sources:

Some of the main points related to the Data Sources available are listed below:

  1. SharePoint Lists and Excel documents are now easier to use as sources of data within PerformancePoint content
  2. Excel Services, SQL Server Tables, Analysis Services, Reporting Services, and ODBC connections are still available as sources of data for PerformancePoint

The ability to leverage SharePoint Lists and Excel documents opens up a lot of possibilities for end users to analyze data. Essentially anything can be a source of anything else, for example in my lab I could…

  1. Create a SharePoint List from a SQL Server table
  2. I could then create an Excel Services Document from the SP List
  3. I could then create a PerformancePoint Scorecard from the Excel Services Document…and on and on…and on

Tight Integration with SharePoint:

A huge improvement with PerformancePoint is the tight integration with SP2010. This integration has already been displayed in the previous sections of the blog, however, a couple more items that I would like to point out are displayed below:

  • Standard SharePoint web parts can be added to deployed PerformancePoint dashboards. These filters can actually filter PerformancePoint Charts and Graphs.
  • On the other hand, PerformancePoint Filters can also pass values to non-PerformancePoint web parts (i.e. SharePoint Lists, KPI Lists, Chart Web Parts, etc.)
  • Even though it is still called a Dashboard it is now only a group of SharePoint web parts contained within zones

Did you…enjoy this blog? Make sure to check out Part 2 of this series!

Do you…have any questions or comments? Leave questions or comments and I’ll make sure to get back to you as soon as I can!

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Mike Burger

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