Sunday, February 14, 2010

I like PerformancePoint Dashboards

PerformancePoint (PPS) dashboards really are easy to create once you have an OLAP cube with useful information. One of my cubes, Weblogs, is continually updating with all the web activity on my site In a couple of days, two and a half years ago, I built some PPS dashboards as a public demonstration. I still find them very interesting and a useful guide for activity and performance on my site.

You can see the same information I can. The picture on the right, is a dashboard pointing at the weblogs cube. To get to it, just click on the Web Analytics dashboard on the left hand menu of Then click on the Web Performance tab on the top of the dashboard. The scorecard, is asking for the last 6 days on columns and the top 20 http resource types on rows. It will continually adapt to the date and web activity. It doesn't end there, you can click on any resource type (in the picture, I have clicked on .aspx) so that the 3 right hand charts will dynamically filter to this resource type. At a glance I can see which particular resources are most active and their response time trends. From the bottom chart, it would appear that most of the .aspx resources have been progressively slowing down over the last 12 months. This might be due to the increased activity, database size growing, or perhaps my web site is competing for internet bandwidth with my boys web downloads. I'll investigate further.

The point I would like to make, is that once you have useful information in a cube, it is really quite a simple job to create some dynamic and interesting dashboards. If you are heading towards dashboards, I would encourage you to start by very loosely defining what you want on the dashboard. You only need to determine what information your cube requires. Then once, you have the cube, you can be creative with the dashboards to see how to maximise the information you have available. In my experience, what tends to happen is that you will start with a generic dashboard, then, with feedback, make more dynamic functionality so that users are able to easily drill down to the interesting aspects.

There is really only one gotcha that stands out for me and that is the client browser. Internet Explorer 7 and 8, obviously, are very good clients. Other browsers, don't support all PPS dashboard functionality. Of course, if you have a particular browser in question, you could browse to my demonstration and see how well it does. Feel free to post comments on this blog with your results.
By the way, I have similar beliefs about SQL Server Reporting Services. Once you have a cube with all the information, dynamic reporting is quite simple. Also, Reporting Services and PerformancePoint should be seen as complementary, rather than alternatives.


Etienne123 said...

Your dashboard example contains functionality I am trying to implement but cant. When you click on .aspx it acts as a filter for the other components. How did you manage to achieve that?
My section will be SSRS which should control other PPS content, but happy to consider other technologies.
What is the technology in your top left zone (the one that contains .aspx)? is it a PPS report or Excel Services?
How did you achieve the interactive filtering i.e. by affecting the other charts when you click on .aspx?

Richard Lees said...

Hi Etienne, It is quite simple really, you just create a filter and drag it over in PerformancePoint designer and select fully qualified member name.

Etienne123 said...

Thank you for your response, but I am no where nearer to establishing how you actually achieved this?
Assume my source is a SSRS report with 3 rows (Australia, USA and UK). The user click on Australia, and that should affect the analytically charts in the rest of the dashboard.
Where does the PPS filter come in, as it is the click on the SSRS report (such as your example on clicking on .ASPX) that should act as the filter.
Any further assistence greatly appreciated.

Richard Lees said...

Sorry, It is easy to link dashboard components to charts, and it is easy to link RS reports to eachother, however, I don't know how you will hook the chart to an RS report.