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Six not-so-silent killers of SharePoint BI projects

When companies want a one-stop shop location to streamline business processes, automate tasks, collaborate and boost employee productivity, they often turn to SharePoint.

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Reda Chouffani

It integrates well with other Microsoft tools (as it should) and offers a comprehensive information platform, including capabilities such as business intelligence (BI). But companies may face challenges if they don't consider these common obstacles to a successful BI practice.

  1. SharePoint is installed -- now what? A thorough assessment of business needs and a detailed outline of requirements for the BI components are necessary. A SharePoint deployment without the proper steps can suffer. So let's review some of the SharePoint BI project killers that you should safeguard against.
  2. SharePoint is not just a fancy intranet site. For an organization to make full use of SharePoint, it must first recognize that it is a platform with greater functionality, not just a document repository. The goal of business intelligence is to provide the right information to the right roles. SharePoint can also centralize access to information that is disparate.
  3. There is more to BI than charts. Business users should learn the terms and concepts in business intelligence platforms and the options available within SharePoint: Key performance indicators (KPIs) can highlight specific data; scorecards can reveal specific business measurements; and dashboards can group several components in a comprehensive summary, with charts and indicators placed on one screen.
  4. Start with the tools first. With SharePoint, the BI should be deployed after the organization or the SharePoint implementation team has spent time identifying how the platform can serve business needs, principally in two areas: (1) addressing the tactical needs for KPIs, such as current manufacturing levels, customer services stats, daily reports and charts; and (2) focusing on the strategic value of the platform through charts as well as the visualization and self-service capabilities of PowerPivot, PowerView and other tools.
  5. SharePoint BI is more than just Performance Point. Performance Point is the obvious component in SharePoint BI. But there are other components available inside and outside the platform that make SharePoint an ideal BI presentation layer. Reporting services, Excel services, report builder, PowerView, PowerPivot and Performance Point are all members of the Microsoft BI tool family available through SharePoint for the enterprise to leverage, based on the specific information need.
  6. SharePoint isn't just for superusers. SharePoint shouldn't be limited to managers, executives and IT. Regardless of employees' role, there are strong use cases for its use in day-to-day work. SharePoint has tremendous capabilities that, while complex under the hood, are as a single click or an event-triggered workflow on the user end.

For more on SharePoint 2013:

SharePoint big data analytics a reality?

Is SharePoint mobile good enough?

SharePoint Business Connectivity Services

For BI, it is the same story: For those using Excel spreadsheets or even paper documents to log information and calculate stats, SharePoint can offer InfoPath forms or even Web-based Excel spreadsheets that can help ease data entry and eliminate paper-based documents while still keeping things simple for end users.

Organizations have amassed lots of electronic data that can provide a treasure trove of information to business users. Don't let a lack of knowledge about its features or fear of its complexity take down your SharePoint BI project.

This was first published in February 2014

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