As a consultant working in the ever changing Business Intelligence arena, I have to keep up to date with the various Business Intelligence applications available on the market.
We are all familiar with the applications available from the big players like Business Objects and Cognos. We must not however lose sight of what the other players are doing. Microsoft is rapidly climbing the Business Intelligence tree and is building on it’s existing product suite through it’s purchase of ProClarity. Panorama recently announced it is working with Google to provide BI functionality to it’s Google Apps. I blogged about this in March 2008. And other companies like Tableau and Bizzantz offer exciting products in their own right.
I’ve helped a number of clients with their ProClarity solutions in the past, and with the release of Performance Point Server, I felt it would be worth becoming familiar with the product and getting certified.
For the past few months I’ve been studying and practicing for the Microsoft Performance Point Server exam – 70-556. I took the exam last week and passed.
This gives me the MCTS – Office Performance Point Server 2007, Applications certification:
Performance Point Server introduces some of the technologies gained from their ProClarity acquisition and merges it with technology from their Business Scorecard Manager application.
Taken straight from the Microsoft website, “Microsoft Performance Management allows customers to monitor, analyze, and plan their business as well as drive alignment, accountability, and actionable insight across the entire organization.” Yes…well.
Performance Point Server is indeed a powerful analytical tool allowing you to generate meaningful information from the vast quantities of data available to most, if not all, organisations today.
For those considering taking this exam, there are a wealth of resources available. I have used ProClarity on a number of occasions in the past, and was familiar with some of it’s reporting functionality and back end configuration. However, I strongly recommend further reading to prepare you for this exam.
First off, I recommend two books. The first is The Rational Guide to Monitoring and Analyzing with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007. The second is The Rational Guide to Planning with Microsoft Office Performancepoint Server 2007.
Both books are straighforward and provide a good overview of Performance Point Server. Note that these books do not drill down into every detail of Performance Point Server, and none of the books covers every aspect of Performance Point Server individually. However, I don’t think this was the aim of the books. I believe their aim is to give a good overall understanding on some the aspects of the product, and I think they have succeeded.
You might find that there are still some gaps in your knowledge. You can fill these gaps by supplementing your reading with some of the additional resources I’ve listed further down.
Microsoft has three useful and important guides, available via TechNet:
PerformancePoint Server 2007 Planning & Architecture Guide
Deployment Guide for PerformancePoint Server 2007
PerformancePoint Server Operations Guide
Have a read of the useful Performance Point Server team blog. These are some very handy posts which will come in handy in the future.
Don’t forget to visit the Performance Point Server section of Technet. This has a wealth of information, including links to downloads, service packs, tutorials, documents and blogs.
Finally, although there isn’t an official Microsoft course, you must make use of the free learning courses available from Microsoft. These are 14 short modules which cover most aspects of the syllabus.
To prepare for this exam, I loaded the exam prep guide into Excel, and checked off every point as I covered it. I also downloaded the Performance Point Server 180-day trial to play around with. Use the AdventureWorksDW as your data source, and you should be able to create a few reasonable reports.
So there you have it. Enough information and resources to help you become familiar with Performance Point Server and with some study and practice, pass the 70-556 exam. Good luck!