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In SharePoint 2010 Essential Training, author Simon Allardice demonstrates the full feature set in SharePoint 2010 and the necessary skills to be a SharePoint site administrator. The course shows how to use SharePoint, create sites and site collections, and plan and design sites and portals. It also covers Office integration, security and permissions, and advanced features such as document management and business intelligence.
Perhaps the most significant addition that there has been to this 2010 version of SharePoint is the addition of PerformancePoint Services, which you typically get to by creating a Business Intelligence Center. On the Business Intelligence Center, if you go to the Create Dashboards section, you will see a link to Start using PerformancePoint Services. Now PerformancePoint used to be a completely separate product from SharePoint. It had both a server-side product and a Windows application for designing what it called Dashboards.
This is what we are trying to do in SharePoint now and Microsoft made PerformancePoint part of SharePoint 2010. It's a very significant product and it really will feel to you like you are learning a completely different product. Now PerformancePoint used to have its Windows application for designing dashboards, and in fact, that's still the case with this version of SharePoint. When I create the Business Intelligence Center and then I go to this page for the first time, it says I want to use PerformancePoint, I have got a button here that says Run Dashboard Designer.
Clicking that button, when I do it for the first time, it will actually push back and install the Dashboard Designer program on my machine. Subsequently after that I just click the button and it will open the program. So it's an interesting roundabout idea of what's happening here. You create a site, you go to the site, you press a button and it pushes back a program to you. We use Dashboard Designer for several different reasons and we are really defining little pieces of information that we are interested in and where it comes from.
So the majority of what you do will be split into either defining data connections or PerformancePoint content. And by PerformancePoint content, we mean dashboards, which are really going to be our web pages that contain scoreCards, which are groups of scoring that typically contain smaller elements. So I am going to go through this fairly quickly but just giving you some exposure to how you do this. I am going to go to Data Connections here. I don't have any connections yet but if I go to the Create section of my Ribbon, the only thing that's open is a data source which is where I can say Yes, this dashboard would like to get data from Analysis Services, or Excel Services, or import directly from an Excel workbook, get some data from the SharePoint lists, get some data from a SQL Server table.
Again you are trying to have this idea that the dashboards you are looking at could be drawing together information from several different sources because you don't want to think about, well, I just want to look at SharePoint and now I will go to another program to look at SQL Server. You want to bring it all together. I am actually going to do a SQL Server example. So let's imagine that we have got a completely separate legacy database out there that's handling our order system and what I am interested in is seeing bits of important information within my SharePoint site. So it's going to ask me to connect to the server, and I know right now it's the local machine.
I am just going to use the dot there. The database I am interested in is the AdventureWorks database, which is one of my Microsoft's sample databases for information and will do OK for us in this particular need. And then I have got to select a table that I am interested in. Well, there is a lot of data there, but I am going to go for the SalesOrderHeader, which will have my sales order information. Now, if you run into problems with connectivity, obviously this Dashboard Designer is trying to talk to the database and your dashboards will as well, you may have to talk to your farm administrator to make sure that the connections are allowed between external programs and even between SharePoint and this external database.
I am going to click to the next tab, Properties, just to give this a name. I will call this connection Order Info. On the next tab, Time, we are really interested in well, how we starting to split this up? What am I looking at if I am interested in this little heartbeat of data? Am I looking at the data for the year, for the month, for the week? Well, let's say I am interested in the Month and just the month right now. So I will leave the Year alone. By OrderDate and that will allow me to group that information together.
Then I am going to shift to this final page, which actually allows me to even preview the data that's in that database right now. It's not very exciting but it's got some order information with some yotal due information here. But here is the deal. I don't want to look at this and this might be what I have to do or I have to get my developers to write a custom program. I just want this all summarized for me. I want to find out how many orders were placed last month, for example. So let's say that's my data source defined.
Of course, I am doing one. You would be defining several at the same time most likely. Now I have got some data that I can look at. I need to create some PerformancePoint content, something that's going to visually represent that data. Now the way I typically do with PerformancePoint and with the Dashboard Designer is I go from the bottom up. I start talking about the individual pieces of data that I want and start defining those. Then I gather those together into what are called ScoreCards and then I gather those together into what are called dashboards and the dashboard, which is the overall view of the potentially dozens or hundreds of pieces of data you are looking at, the dashboard is effectively what's going to be your web page back in the SharePoint Business Intelligence Center.
So let's do that from the bottom up. I am going to create a KPI, a Key Performance Indicator. By doing this, what I am really telling Dashboard Designer is I am interested in two pieces of data for each KPI. What is the actual number and what should it be. Big difference from just looking at a lot of lists of numbers, easily scanning them and saying is this good or bad. So I have an actual line here which says right now the date mapping to it is a fixed value of one. Well that's not really any use.
I want my actual value to be the actual number of orders placed last month. So I am going to go in here and change the source to my Order Info data connection that I just defined before and click OK. Then I will have a dropdown saying well which bit are you interested in? I am interested in the TotalDue. I could start adding what are called dimension filters, which is allowing me to go down by the DueDate.Month or the OrderDate.Month, that kind of thing. For the moment, I am just going to leave that. I am just trying to do a super simple one to show you.
So I am going to click OK and then that is the actual information but we also need to have the target. Now I don't have the target actually stored in the database. So perhaps I'd be getting that from another data source like a SharePoint list or in this case, I am just going to have it typed in manually. I am going to say it's got a fixed value of let's say $1 million a month. Now, below this, you can actually define the thresholds, because by giving a KPI two pieces of information, you can allow it to show up in three different states.
So in our case, if that number is going to be above a million, it's going to be showing up in green, in the little green light. If it's from 100% of that value to 50%, it's going to show up in yellow. And below 50%, it's going to be bad. Well, you know, if I am having a goal of a million dollars a month, if we are at 500,000, that's pretty bad. So what I would like to actually see here is that one kind of drawn back a little bit. That the threshold of that one would be, I can either drag it or I can type it here, let's say 90%.
I am going to click Properties and just give this KPI a name. I could give it a description. I am not going to do that right now. I am just going to hit Save to make sure that we have saved it so far. So we have a KPI, and a data connection defined. That's still not enough. I am going to gather that KPI into what's called a Scorecard. And the Scorecard itself is the idea of something that can hold multiple pieces of data. I will call this thing Monthly Information because perhaps at a later point, I could not only have the Order Total KPI, I could have the Returns KPI.
I could have all sorts of information added to the Scorecard. All I am going to do right now is see that on the Scorecard, which is obviously blank right now, that we do have some available KPIs. I have only got one, the Order Total. So I am going to bring that and drag that over which makes that part of the Scorecard. Again, I am doing this very simply. So I have just got one right now, and it's actually going to preview that data and right now it looks like we are not in great shape, that the Order Total is about 956,000 and the target was a million. So we are showing up in yellow, not terrible but not great either.
This being my scorecard, I now need the final piece before we can get this back into SharePoint and create a dashboard. The dashboard is effectively going to be your page in your Business Intelligence Center, and if you have a lot of information, you might want to start gathering them into 2 columns or 2 rows or a header with 2 columns. I am just going to go with the simple one, which is 1 Zone, just one generic page with all our content to go in, and click OK. I will call this dashboard Sales, and below we have a big blank area of dashboard content and it says Add a dashboard item by dropping it here.
I will expand my Scorecards, find my Monthly Information Scorecard, bring it over, drop it in, save this, but as you can imagine, you can add multiple Scorecards and all sorts of other pieces to your dashboard. So after defining these four pieces, the data connection to describe the SQL Server database I want to talk to, the KPI to say the exact little piece that I am really interested in and what it should be, containing that within the ScoreCard called Monthly Information and holding that in the dashboard of Sales.
But I am still in the Windows application, so how do I get this back into SharePoint? Well, what I can do is right-click my dashboard and say Deploy to SharePoint. It's asking, do you want to deploy to the Dashboards library? It's checking that it's the right site, the ldcsharepoint.com/site/business for me. That looks okay. I am going to leave all the default options here. I don't need a different master page. I don't need a page list for navigation. I am just going to click OK. It will think about that, deploy it, dump it into SharePoint, we have got our KPI, we have got our Scorecard, we have got our Sales page.
Now obviously, as you might imagine, if I am such a business genius that I can't even hold the fact of one number in my head and whether this is good or bad, my company has other problems. The real point and the big benefit of dashboards is that after you have spent several days or even weeks building these things out and spent a lot of time talking around the conference table about what should be on them, you could go to a page like this, and instantly see a hundred of them, just popping up all, drawing their information very dynamically.
This is not fixed data. Whenever I view this page, it is actually fetching that information from the database. So I am seeing the most up-to-date information there is and being able to scan entire columns of these indicators and of these diagrams to find out what's going on in the business right now and are we in good shape or are we in bad shape, what do we need to be looking at, and that's really the power of using PerformancePoint Services, using the Dashboard Designer and building your dashboards to deploy into SharePoint.
I am going to save my first one locally because this is a Windows application so it's just some data I might use later. If this is your first exposure to PerformancePoint, you probably are thinking, "wow good Lord this is pretty significant" and it is. Bear in mind, this was a completely separate product. The people had books on it. They had conferences on it. It's very substantial stuff, but this is the key and the starting point for real business intelligence inside SharePoint 2010.
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