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Performance Point Server – Counting the Cost

I am ploughing through my inbox now I am not on the road anymore, and I have picked up quite a lot of flak around the costs of Performance Point.  I have passed specific queries on to the licensing guys, but the sort of thing I was getting both on-line and off-line form the TechNet road shows was

  • Can’t I just buy ProClarity and therefore cut down my licensing costs?
  • It’s going to cost megabucks to roll out in my company so I can’t afford it.

Dealing with each of these in turn:

ProClarity licensing.  When Microsoft bought this into the Office product stack, the cost was reduced by over half for the whole product and if memory serves Performance Point is scarcely more expensive than ProClarity 6.3.  ProClarity did/does have a dashboard server so this function is now superceded in Performance Point by the functionality of Business Scorecard Manager.

Performance Point Costs are too high.  I worked for a couple of Gold partners before joining Microsoft in July and I got this sort of response whether I was working with Business Objects, Cognos or Performance Point.  I am not going to debate license costs here, so I will assume they are the same for each product.  However from my own experience Performance Point can be be deployed, developed and maintained for less, in a Microsoft based environment. 

I realise that this is contentious, but Performance Point builds on well known components:

  • Windows Server 2003r2 including Active Directory and Internet Information Services.
  • SQL Server 2005, including reporting services and analysis services.
  • SharePoint whether this is Windows SharePoint Services 3  (in Windows Server 2003) or SharePoint 2007.
  • Excel 2003 or later.

So the only unknowns are how to use the front end tools to deliver reporting and analytical content in the Dashboard Designer, and how to model the business in Business Modeller.

I would note that the true cost of implementing proper performance management in a business is the change management needed to get everyone using the new tools in a coordinated way.  This requires a big investment in education, not just the use of the tool, and applies no matter which vendor you decide on.

The costs of implementation of a performance management solution, must of course be measured against the benefits and the big challenge is identifying and quantifying those. Only rarely do I see an organisation effectively measuring those benefits before and after new solution is in place, to confirm the project is a success.

A possible answer is to predict and measure the cost and impact of decisions that will be made with a performance management tool in your business i.e. using the tool to measure its own success as well as that of the business.  Of course any success will have many friends and any failure is usually be the fault of the system, but I would submit the costs of success or failure in  your business are far higher than the cost of the system supporting those decisions.