Sunday, May 15, 2011

MS BI Dashboard Design : Identifying right components for your dashboard

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When you think of dashboard development in Microsoft BI world, the only name that would pop-up is Performancepoint. A general perception is that professionals who are skilled at using performancepoint are dashboard development experts, but this is a very big misconception. To develop an appealing and effective dashboard, one needs the skill of translating user requirements to reporting elements. Even dashboard ultimately is a summarized report.

One of the common issues that can be seen on dashboards developed by professionals, who do not have right kind of reporting experience, can be seen on KPI reporting. Mostly KPIs are reported using traffic light indicators, and this has built-in support in performancepoint to create a scorecard and host KPIs. But over the period of time when user start using dashboards regularly, they feel the need to see the functional detail on the KPI on the dashboard itself. For example, when the user is analyzing a KPI (Cost Performance Index, for example), user would like to check different thresholds associated with this KPI. The values of interest can be, what is actual, what was target, what were the thresholds for Green, Amber and Red indicators etc.

Using stop light indicators, you can just display the status of the KPI but you can't display thresholds associated with the KPIs. Here a PPS professional would not know the solution, and the most that PPS developer would do is show the threshold values in the tooltip, which is not a solution at all. A seasoned reporting professional would immediately suggest a bullet graph for this, which is available in SSRS. You might have gone with the option of PPS just due to the scorecard feature, and when you figure out that even SSRS with Bullet Graph would have sufficed, the earth under your legs might start shaking !! This example is a very commonly found example, and if you have worked on a few reporting projects, you must have come across this scenario.

Selecting right element for the right requirement is the key to any reporting solution, whether it may be a simple operational report or a sophisticated dashboard. So when you start thinking about your dashboard design and development using MS BI tools and technologies, you need to make sure that the skill that should be primarily available with you is a reporting expert and not a SSRS / PPS expert.

1 comment:

Prima said...

you could provide some in-text references and citations in all your articles may be?

Your work is really thorough and helps n00bs understand a lot in a simplistic way. :)

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