I recently evaluated the Microsoft Office Business Scorecard Manager 2005 (what a name for a product!). I was not so interested in the history of the product and the politics of Microsoft’s product strategy than in how the product could be used to create a corporate dashboard on Molecular’s intranet.
The required software stack was difficult to put together and to install. Particularly the installation of the OLE DB Provider was a mystery to me, since I could not find a download that included it. But it worked somehow without installing this piece. Here is the complete stack :
- Microsoft Windows Server 2003 with the latest software updates
- Microsoft SQL Server 2000 with SP4
- Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Analysis Services with SP4
- Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) 6.0
- Microsoft ASP.NET 1.1
- Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services or Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server 2003
- Microsoft XML 4.0
- Microsoft ADOMD.NET 8.0
- Microsoft OLE DB Provider for OLAP Services (MSOLAP) 8.0
- SQLXML 3.0 SP3
- Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Notification Services 2.0 SP1 Engine Components
- Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services SP2 (Optional)
It took several days and multiple iterations until everything worked as described. Once it was installed, understanding and working with the Builder and deploying scorecards as web parts to a Sharepoint server was intuitive and easy.
I was disappointed with the potential applications for the tool, though. It turned out that you can only use it for clean-cut scorecard applications, where you define a target value (e.g. revenue goal) and a series of actuals (e.g. revenues this month and last month) for a particular key performance indicator (KPI). Neither this basic logic nor the display code can be customized for different purposes.
I tried to create a project status scorecard as shown in the sample image above and realized that I needed a cube data source and a dimension for the value categories across the x-axis (the data in the example is entirely ficticious!). Each column actually represents a KPI. With a relational data source, it is not possible to do this. I had to create a little data mart just to test this functionality. It is also not possible to display monetary amounts for actuals, only percentages or ranges. For this type of project status summary, Scorecard Manager turned out to be the wrong tool. I ended up using a MSRS report instead.