Reporting and Enterprise Reporting: Which SharePoint 2010 Business Intelligence Approach is Best?

Reporting solutions range from complex, technically challenging infrastructure types to simple, ad-hoc reporting from a client-based application. Often, the most difficult aspect of selecting a solution is the process of understanding what the organization really needs.

The success factors of implementation are basically three-fold:

  1. The level of commitment and sponsorship of the project from senior management
  2. The level of business need for creating a BI implementation
  3. The amount and quality of business data available

reference:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_intelligence#Success_factors_of_implementation

In this post, I have analyzed some of the most popular and most common reporting solutions for SharePoint 2010, mentioning both benefits and challenges. An organization may need one, some or all of these reporting solutions to meet their enterprise needs. In practice, all of these solutions are compatible in an infrastructure properly designed with the whole in mind and can be deployed in totality.

Summary of Reporting and Enterprise Reporting Solutions:

SharePoint Reporting Options WorkEngine Reporting Solution Benefits Description
SharePoint Web Part Pages/Dashboard
WorkEngine Chart Web Part Template Pack:
http://kb.epmlive.com/Download50877.aspx
Low-impact to infrastructure
Leverages SharePoint Out of Box web part pages, high flexibility
Commonly tracked project information and will save you valuable time with the ability to place them in any Web Part Zone in your WorkEngine application.
Microsoft Office (Excel, Access) connected directly to a reporting database
WorkEngine Excel Report Packs:
General Instructions for setting up Excel to connect to WorkEngine Reporting Database:
http://kb.epmlive.com/KnowledgebaseArticle50682.aspx
WorkEngine Preconfigured Excel Reports:
http://kb.epmlive.com/Download50894.aspx
WorkEngine Preconfigured Timesheet Reporting:
http://kb.epmlive.com/Download50818.aspx
 
Low-impact to infrastructure (usually little to no change required to setup)
Report design is easily modified and updated
Commonly used Excel based application for managing and reporting
Web-based Microsoft Office (Excel, Access) rendered through SharePoint WorkEngine Excel Report Packs:
General Instructions for setting up Excel to connect to WorkEngine Reporting Database:
http://kb.epmlive.com/KnowledgebaseArticle50682.aspx
WorkEngine Preconfigured Excel Reports:
http://kb.epmlive.com/Download50894.aspx
WorkEngine Preconfigured Timesheet Reporting:
http://kb.epmlive.com/Download50818.aspx
 
Medium-impact to infrastructure, requiring technical resources to implement
Report design is easily modified and updated as organizational changes flow down
Reports are centralized through technical design and maintained as part of the SharePoint farm
Web-based SQL Reporting Services reports stored on SharePoint WorkEngine SSRS Report Pack:
 
http://kb.epmlive.com/Download50815.aspx
 
High-impact to infrastructure, requiring specialized technical resources to implement
Report design is tightly controlled
Reports are centralized through technical design and maintained as part of the SharePoint farm
Reports performance is based on SQL server stability and performance, which can handle millions of rows
Web-based KPIs and dashboards using PerformancePoint in SharePoint Performance Point integration with WorkEngine Reporting Database
WorkEngine Reporting Database Info:  Please review section 7 of our Administration and Configuration Guide.
http://kb.epmlive.com/KnowledgebaseArticle50675.aspx
High-impact to infrastructure, requiring specialized technical resources to implement
Report design is tightly controlled
Reports are centralized through technical design and maintained as part of the SharePoint farm
Reports performance is based on SharePoint server stability and performance, and can handle millions of rows
No end-user training is required to consume the reports, and they are generated automatically

Weigh the technical and organizational challenges, your business requirements and the three success factors mentioned upfront to discover which reporting solution will work best for you.

You can always start with the most simple, extensible option and grow into a more complex solution over time. At the very least, I would recommend to first try the solution with the lowest initial investment (whichever one that is for you) for a period of time, and then do a re-assessment on whether the organization’s business intelligence needs are satisfied.​

WorkEngine's January Tips, Tricks and Best Practices

Need Project Requests?

Use the WorkEngine Project Requests feature to efficiently and effectively capture, classify, evaluate, and appropriately prioritize projects within your organization.  This feature resides at the EPM WorkEngine top level site and serves as a repository for all project requests associated with the project portfolio.  See below for step by step instructions to begin using Project Requests today:
  1. Navigate to the Project Requests list in your EPM Live WorkEngine site collection and select the New Item button.  Complete the fields that are applicable to your request and click the Save button.  Your new project request will be added to the Project Requests list.
  2. Initiate the out of box Project Approval workflow or create your own incorporating your internal processes.
  3. Use one of the many views pre-configured for you to review status and analyze data for project selection.
    1. All ‘Proposed’ projects:
    2. The entire Project Portfolio (i.e., project requests, active projects, etc.).
    3. Detailed Bubble Charts assists in evaluating Risk vs. Strategic Value of proposed as well as active projects.
    4. Upon approval of a Project Request item, create your project workspace with the project data you’ve been adding and updating in the request item throughout the review and approval process.
    5. Your new project workspace is created.
Resource Pool Out of Control?

Use the Build Team feature in WorkEngine to group, sort, and filter the Enterprise Resource Pool to render only the type of resources required for the project.  This feature is ideal for organizations that have large resource pools.  See below for details on how to use this time saving feature.

  1. From your EPM Live project workspace, navigate to Site Settings ànd Build Team and select the Add Users button.
  2. The entire list of resources from the Enterprise Resource Pool will load. From here the Project Manager can group, sort and filter to narrow the list down to render only resources required for the project.  See example below.

Fortune 500 Manufacturing Company Leverages WorkEngine to Build Custom Design for Lean Six Sigma Solution

This client had the need to implement a structured approach to deploy Design for Lean Six Sigma (DfLSS) across new product development (NPD) within their organization.  Leveraging WorkEngine, Microsoft Project Server and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, EPM Live was able to help design, build and adapt this innovative approach to improve and standardize their new product development process.

This WorkEngine solution was intended to achieve an end-to-end deployment process that wouldsignificantly enhance the development of products and services that far exceeded other problem-solving and design approaches.
Six Sigma has been successfully applied to many industries and verticals to help solve business problems and improve product performance, processes, and services.  The concept of DfLSS pertains to delivering a product or service with the defined and intended functionality at the lowest cost and at the Six Sigma quality level.

Extending Microsoft Project Server 2010 into a Complete Work Management System

Microsoft Project Server 2010 is a powerful application that many organizations have adopted and deployed to centralize and manage their project schedules. It has a robust database back-end that allows for storing enterprise resources, field attributes, field calculations, and more. Although Microsoft Project Server is a powerful solution for Project and Portfolio Mangement, most organizations find that where there are projects, there is also other work that affects the same resources.  So how do Microsoft Project Server users extend their project platform to not only include all other work that needs to be managed within the organization but expand the use of Microsoft Project Server to a broader audience allowing them to maximize their return on investment?  By connecting PWA WorkEngine to the Project Server platform, organizations take advantage of all the features Microsoft Project Server offers and tie it together nicely with a flexible SharePoint solution that enables them to manage not only their entire project lifecycle but all of their other work as well.  PWA WorkEngine combined with Microsoft Project Server’s technology caters to all users, all work and all processes making any Microsoft Project Server deployment the most flexible and robust system available today.

PWA WorkEngine was designed to leverage the powerful capabilities of Microsoft Project Server 2010 such as portfolio management and schedule management and extend the same value-driven concepts to all areas of the business whether it be traditional projects or the other work that surrounds them, all within one centralized platform.  Project Server users can maximize their return on investment and reduce cost and risk with minimal disruption to their existing processes by leveraging pre-configured SharePoint project templates that best suit any project and work management need.  Project Managers continue to use Microsoft Project Professional and Microsoft Project Web App without any new training or change to their process. Directly accessible from the Project Web App (PWA) interface, teams can share all work assignments, priorities, and critical dates with an effective and easy to use collaboration tool, to increase communication and productivity across their projects. PWA WorkEngine enables organizations to work better together and allows Microsoft Project Server to reach a broader audience and meet the needs of the entire project team.

In addition, different types of departments may manage their projects with varying methodologies. Using WorkEngine pre-built site templates, organizations accelerate their Project Server deployments and augment Project Server’s enterprise project types, allowing them to scale to enterprise wide deployments. For example, Software Development Department may use SCRUM methodology whereas the Program Office Department uses PMBOK.

WorkEngine allows teams to truly understand and manage all the work around a project. By connecting Project Server with WorkEngine organizations have the ability to manage all the activities involved with managing a project. Each project workspace comes complete with pre-built templates and a rich set of features and capabilities to help teams effectively monitor, manage, control and execute on all critical business items such as projects, issues, changes, and everyday work actions that impact their projects bottom line. Team members can easily view and update all their activities across projects within one view. Functional managers finally have the visibility to what their resources are working on- all activities, not just the assignments within the Microsoft Project schedule.   Teams can simply work better together with Project Server and WorkEngine.

Click Here to view an OnDemand Webinar on PWA WorkEngine

Microsoft Project Server enhancements include:

Project Management:

– Publish Microsoft Project schedules to a SharePoint list in the Project Workspace
– Publish Project Web App schedules to a SharePoint list in the Project Workspace
– Ability to manage different meta data (outline codes) for different projects based on the project workspace template

Resource Management:

– Resource What-If Modeling on All Work (including Project Server assignments)
– Printable Resource Management Reports (including Project Server assignments)
– Build SharePoint Workflows on Resource Work and Assignments (including Project Server assignments)

Work Management:

– Add any SharePoint Work List to Project Workspace (Issues, Bugs, Actions, Defects, Changes, Service Request, etc…)
– Rollup All My Work in a single list (including Project Server assignments)

Time Management:

– Report Time on any work item (including Project Server assignments)
– Report Time using Work Log feature (including Project Server assignments)

Reporting:

– All Data resides in SharePoint Content DB (Project data, Assignments, Issues, Risks, Bugs, Changes, Actions, etc.)
– Leverage WorkEngine’s pre-built SSRS Reporting templates
– Leverage Silverlight Chart Web Parts for graphical chart reporting
– Take scheduled snap shots for trend reporting

Configuration:

– Site hierarchy flexibility (Department – Portfolio – Program – Project – Sub Project Workspaces)
– Publish multiple projects from Project Server into a single Project Workspace (Programs or Portfolios Workspaces)

Cross Platform Support:

– View Project Server data on both PC or MAC computers
– View Project Server data in Non IE browsers
– Safari 3.X or higher
– Firefox 3.X or higher​

EPM Live Gives Back- Bringing SharePoint Project Management to Everyone

It has been a great year for EPM Live! We have so many reasons to be thankful: a rapidly growing client base, healthy and dedicated employees, many noteworthy acomplishments, an endless supply of loyal supporters, and many, many more! It is for these reasons that we are honored every year to give back to our community. EPM Live donates tens of thousands of dollars in software licenses every month to aid non-profit organizations in planning, controlling and executing their projects and work to maximize their contributions to their causes.

Managing projects with minimum resources and little funding requires even more control which is why EPM Live has been supporting non-profits by giving them the tools they need to make their organizations successful. Some of the non-profit organizations that have experienced EPM Live’s give back spirit are listed below:

Operation ShareLove: Support Haiti Earthquake Victims:

The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicenter near the town of Léogâne, approximately 25 km (16 miles) west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time (21:53 UTC) on Tuesday, 12 January 2010. By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater had been recorded. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake; the Haitian government reported that an estimated 230,000 people had died, 300,000 had been injured and 1,000,000 made homeless. They also estimated that 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings had collapsed or were severely damaged. EPM Live donated free copies of Project Publisher to anyone that donated at least $50 to the cause.

Special Olympics:

The Special Olympics World Winter Games Committee needed a project management tool that would allow each venue to manage their tasks independently and have the ability to report their project status to one enterprise site. The Special Olympics World Winter Games Committee uses WorkEngine because the solution provides the highest level of capability and flexibility, with the greatest ease of use in functionality and deployment. With WorkEngine’s online Software + Services environment, the solution gave the committee the ability to be up and running within a few business days. “The solution came highly recommended from the team we were working with on our technology infrastructure. We are a sunset organization and did not have much time to implement and configure a complicated EPM solution. WorkEngine allowed us to add as many users as needed and tailor the solution to our unique needs,” said J.P. Benlian, Special Olympics World Winter Games Committee Member.

The Pink Party:

The Pink Party is committed to supporting breast cancer research, patient and family care, education related to environmental/biological causes and the importance of early detection. By bringing the community together to party for a cause, The Pink Party promotes celebration, survival, empowerment and education. The Pink Party used WorkEngine to provide volunteer coordination, event planning and execution, manage all donations and donors as well as establish a portal for all sponsorship communication and correspondence.

Hope for Gavin:

Tay-Sachs is a rare hereditary disease caused by a genetic mutation that leaves the body unable to produce an enzyme (known as Hex-A) necessary for fat metabolism in nerve cells. Without this enzyme, central nervous system degeneration ensues. The disease is named for a British ophthalmologist, Warren Tay, who first described the disease, in 1881, and a New York neurologist, Bernard Sachs, who first described the cellular changes and the genetic nature of the disease, in 1887. Gavin is a 5 year old boy who lives in San Diego, CA. In 2009, Gavin was diagnosed with Tay Sachs disease, a rare and fatal disease. The Hope for Gavin charity was created to provide support for Gavin and support for the Cure Tay Sachs Foundation. The Hope for Gavin team has been using their WorkEngine application to manage all fundraising events, sell tickets, control donations and sponsorships and provide a collaboration environment for all volunteers.

PMI Chapters (Project Management Institute):

EPM Live has been offering all PMI Chapters the online WorkEngine product for over three years. PMI Chapters are using WorkEngine to run Chapter business including volunteer programs, conference planning and execution, board meeting minutes and action items, component dinner planning and execution as well as all other simple to complex project management needs. Because WorkEngine is built on SharePoint, users are able to collaborate easily and efficiently without the need for an elaborate training program. It also gives PMI Chapters the ability to incentivize volunteers by providing top of the line, best practice software to manage all of their programs, offering them the experience they need to improve their project management skill level. WorkEngine’s security is flexible and scalable so Chapter’s can collaborate not only with their individual Chapter but can share best practice information across other Chapter’s in their region as well.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this year a huge success! Happy Holidays to all!

Resource Management in SharePoint

Employees are the most valuable asset and the biggest expense for most organizations. The ability to deploy employees effectively against often conflicting projects and other work priorities enables organizations to optimize their return on human resource investments. In order to maximize both task throughput and company morale, resource and project managers need an efficient system to place the appropriate staff on the right teams at the right time.

SharePoint can help organizations accomplish every stage in the resource management life cycle so that maximum allocation can be reached without introducing risks. The five stages of the resource management life cycle are:

• Resource Capacity
• Resource Allocation
• Resource Work Management
• Resource Collaboration and
• Resource Task Management

Capacity Planning helps to ensure that resource capacity meets current and future business requirements in a cost-effective manner.  In the Capacity planning stage you will need to identify all the roles needed for the given project or work effort at hand.  For example, which organizations or departments will be involved in your project?  This will help you establish the structure for your project and potentially how your tasks will be organized and even identify security constraints.  What disciplines and skill sets are required to complete your project?  Without the proper skill sets and expertise, particular tasks may require more training, longer term times, possibly even result in rework.   Effective resource management relies on the fact that these factors have all been considered prior to selecting your resources. Once you have determined your generic roles, you will need to determine the quantity of each role needed as well as the timeframe.  As this information is obtained, you will then be ready to analyze your plan, make adjustments and prepare for actual named assignments.  Let’s take a look at how you can accomplish Resource capacity in SharePoint.

1)  Build a resource plan directly in SharePoint:

2)  Use a resource modeler to perform what-if analysis, finalize portfolio selection and apply the right sequencing.

3)  Leverage resource capacity reports built directly in SharePoint to analyze your current resource needs and all potential risks associated.

To see how you can leverage SharePoint to manage the remaining four stages of resource management, download our “Resource Management in SharePoint” on-demand webinar by clicking on the link below.

View Resource Management in SharePoint- On-Demand Webinar

WorkEngine's Feature Spotlight

In addition to WorkEngine’s core functionality, WorkEngine has many features that deserve the spotlight from time to time.  This month’s spotlight includes the following features and functionality that add even more value to your SharePoint platform:

  • Work Log:  WorkEngine’s Work log allow team members to enter their Timesheet data from any SharePoint list item.  For example:  If a team member is working on an issue, task or a even service request stored in a SharePoint list, that team member no longer has to leave that item and go to their timesheet to enter how many hours they have worked on that day, they can now simply click the Work Log link in the SharePoint item and enter their time for the day.  They will then see these hours show up in their timesheet when they are ready to submit for approval.
  • Resource Tools: WorkEngine 2010 provides visibility into resource demands across the organization so functional managers can make staffing decisions to support corporate goals and objectives. Understand which projects and types of work are consuming your most valuable resources for effectively and proactively aligning your staffing plan based on changing priorities and budgets.  As you are assigning resources to any item in SharePoint, make sure you use the “Check Resources” or “Find Resources” feature to view availability and current assignments.
  • My Work Reminder Web Part:  My Work is a WorkEngine feature that allows users to view all their work from one centralized location.  The My Reminders Web Part is designed to display the status of such actionable items rolled up from all sites where the work items were created.  The My Reminders Web Part renders the following information on the My Work home page (and can be easily configured to include additional list data as well):
  • Tasks: New Tasks, Overdue Tasks
  • Issues: Active Issues, Overdue Issues
  • Risks: Active Risks, Overdue Risks
  • Actions: New Actions, Overdue Actions

WorkEngine Releases its 4.0.2 Cumulative Update

WorkEngine continues to provide cutting-edge, cost effective project and work management solutions leveraging the Microsoft technologies organizations already own to increase the value of their current IT investments.  WorkEngine’s applications support the entire work and project management lifecycle and provide the necessary efficiencies and indicators for companies to improve their ROI, streamline their business processes and make critical business decisions.

On November 30, 2010 WorkEngine released its 4.0.2 cumulative update.  Included in this release were several enhancements as seen below:

Gantt Web Part Enhancement

WorkEngine 2010 now uses SharePoint’s 2010 JS Grid Control (non-ActiveX) for it’s Gantt Rollup Web Part: The ActiveX Gantt Controls have been replaced with Microsoft’s JS Grid control for use with the WorkEngine Gantt view for purposes of rendering hierarchal and rolled up data.  Some of the rich features of this enhanced Grid Control and WorkEngine Lists in Gantt view are:

  • Full Tree Hierarchy of Microsoft Project Schedules (no folder schedule structure)
  • Key Performance Indicators
  • Rollup of Data across multiple sites and lists
  • Cross Site Collection Rollup
  • Critical Path Highlighted in Gantt
  • Predessors Links
  • Supports all the other OOB SharePoint Controls, like zoom in and out, link to edit item and more.

Integration with Project Server 2010 Enhancements

You can now publish your Microsoft Project Pro 2010 and Project Web App schedules from Microsoft Project Server to SharePoint: WorkEngine’s Project Publisher add-in product will publish Microsoft Project Professional and Project Web App schedule data to Microsoft Project Server and then populate the designated WorkEngine SharePoint Task Center list.

You can now also access your Microsoft Project Server published project schedules from the WorkEngine SharePoint Project Workspace.

Active Directory Sync

This new tool allows the synchronization of user profiles from your local Active Directory database to the WorkEngine Resource Pool. This tool has configuration flexibility that allows for synchronizations to occur at scheduled intervals and/or manually initiated.

Cost Management for Microsoft Project Server

Microsoft Project Server 2010 provides numerous innovative capabilities across the entire lifecycle of projects to help organizations effectively initiate, select, plan and deliver projects on time and within budget.  It is the perfect tool for managing projects within an organization.  To take a quick look at the top 10 benefits of Project Server, click here.

Now more than ever, organizations are facing the need to tighten their controls over portfolio spending in order to increase their ROI and ensure maximum value to the business.  You’ve heard over and over again the concept of doing more with less, but where do you begin in truly realizing the benefit?  Understanding what needs to be done and where to begin is the first step; however, having the proper tools in place will take you even farther.  So how do you combine the power of Microsoft Project Server and it’s leading project and portfolio management capabilities with the comprehensive financial best practices of a leading cost management technology provider?  WorkEngine announced today its launch of CostEngine, a Project Web App add in that seamlessly extends the Microsoft Project Server solution to enable full cost management controls such as cost categorization, scenario modeling, cost rollups, cost analytics and forecasting.  CostEngine for Microsoft Project Server includes the following capabilities:

  • Full integration with Microsoft Project Server ribbon controls- view
  • Cost visibility across multiple portfolios- view
  • Cost planner with flexible cost category structure- view
  • Cost impact analyzer- view
  • What-if modeler- view
CostEngine gives organizations the tools they need to track ROI by giving them the visibility into both project and portfolio expenditure. With CostEngine’s flexible cost category structure, all cost items can be categorized and accounted for to result in more accurate cost plans and cost forecasts. These cost plans can then be tracked throughout execution to provide valuable insight into cost comparisons including planned costs, forecasts and project actuals. CostEngine aids organizations in greater cost transparency, project control and overall portfolio health.
As with all WorkEngine products, CostEngine leverages a simple, easy-to-use user interface including spreadsheet-like web grids and a complete integration with Microsoft’s PWA ribbon controls.CostEngine promotes better decision making as organizations today are faced with rapidly changing environments; their response to these changes are crucial.  It is critical for management to understand comparisons of quantity and cost value totals for selected projects against targets as well as the effects of cancelling a project or work effort, delaying or advancing it, or the effect of stretching out its duration (thus decreasing the rate of spend).

So as you can see, doing more with less and properly planning and tracking all expenditures is now easier than ever.  To learn more about CostEngine, visit the website by clicking here.

Why Build Your Corporate Website on SharePoint 2010?

The last few years have brought on a whole new set of business challenges for organizations.  Most of these organizations have one consistent challenge among them….the need to do more with less. It is more critical than ever to get the most out of your IT investments.  Leveraging one platform to extend benefits and increase productivity across multiple teams and departments could bring about significant cost savings.  SharePoint 2010 has done just that; offered a platform solution that can be leveraged for all teams and all users across an organization.  What if you could use the same platform to build your corporate website that your PMO uses for project management, your product development team uses for agile development and your service team uses to respond to service requests?  Well, with SharePoint 2010 you can!  Take a look at a few of the advantages that WorkEngine is getting from using SharePoint 2010 as their corporate website platform:

  • Flexible and Scalable- SharePoint is allowing WorkEngine to use the same platform for all departments.  Each department has different types of work, their own methodologies and their own ways of getting that work done.  SharePoint 2010 has the flexibility to easily implement solutions for all work needs without the need to invest in multiple systems.  Not only is SharePoint being used for internal business productivity and running the business activities but it is also being used as an external marketing tool for WorkEngine prospects and consumers.
  • Cost Effective- By utilizing one platform, SharePoint is allowing  WorkEngine to save money on training, IT infrastructure, in-house expertise and all other costs associated with managing multiple systems and silos of data.  The WorkEngine marketing team can now leverage SharePoint to manage campaigns, distribute content, manage messaging and coordinate events all within one system.
  • Easy to Use- Because SharePoint is intuitive and easy to use, website information can be added and modified instantly decreasing production time and allowing the marketing team to focus on programs that will improve business results.