People and Process Behavior Change using the Microsoft BI Stack and SharePoint

by Megan Sproles

More businesses than you suspect run their business by “the seat of their pants.” They have a business plan, and maintain their ledgers, but their strategies and tactics are often designed by reacting to patterns executives perceive in their quarterlies. The problem with this is that it’s a lumbering, subjective approach to running a business. Results are only reviewed every twelve weeks, and strategies adjusted based on subtotals of invoices.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

A much healthier approach to running your business is to make tactical decisions based on real-time or near-real-time data. Instead of waiting until the end of June to review revenues and expenses, imagine if you had the ability to view booked and anticipated income any time you need to. In addition, you would be able to break down the data in various relevant ways – by geography, by product, by date, and so on. This data-driven perspective of your business enables you to review your sales and marketing plans and adjust them based on how your sales teams are performing. It’s the difference between running a slalom course like a skier and trying to steer around an iceberg with a passenger liner.

SharePoint for Business Intelligence

This type of solution can be easily built on the SharePoint platform using its PerformancePoint Services and features in SQL Server 2012. SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), part of the SQL Server platform, enables unifying data from multiple silos across the business, and presenting a unified analytic perspective of the data in a manner relevant to the business. Once the data has been unified into an analytic cube, a user can generate reports or drill down into the data using familiar business dimensions as mentioned above.​

 

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PerformancePoint and Excel Services for Reporting

The analytic cube can be used as a data source by SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) to create standard reports and charts. Users can connect to the cube with Excel and create pivot tables and charts, then publish them back to SharePoint Excel Services for use by the rest of the organization. The new PowerView Service also gives users more abilities to create interactive reports which can even be published to Office 365 for access outside the organization.

Scorecards and Dashboards

All of these methods of presenting data – reports, charts, pivot tables, and analytic reports, can be combined into a dashboard using PerformancePoint Services. PerformancePoint has been part of SharePoint since 2007, and enables creation of business dashboards with analytic features so that they can present a uniform view of the business based on specified criteria or user-controlled filters. PerformancePoint also has a scorecard designer, making it easy to create a data-driven business scorecard that will give a quick “situational awareness” view of the business across multiple performance criteria. These criteria can be used to create key performance indicators which will turn complex data into an easy-to-understand red, yellow, green indicator.

Conclusion

If you’re running SharePoint Enterprise Edition, then you have access to the data and presentation tools necessary to create a robust data-driven business scorecard. Unify the data into an analytical cube, and use that cube as the data source for reporting, charts, and scorecards which can be assembled into dashboards providing the awareness of your business’ performance necessary to make timely, effective decisions.

 

 

Build IT infrastructure

Take advantage of agile IT infrastructure built for your needs – or provided as hosted, managed services – to support your critical applications.

Leverage Applications

Provide your customers and employees with unique, unparalleled functionality that is simply not possible with out-of-the-box applications.

Enable Collaboration

Efficiently organize, store and share the right information with the right people at the right time by utilizing powerful SharePoint.

USE BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE

Gain insight into operations, customers and competitors, and deliver actionable business intelligence with context throughout your organization.​