Tim Kent already reviewed this book last month after polishing it off over a weekend. Tim liked the book and gave a positive review. However, I felt that it is difficult to gauge how good the book is as, to be fair, Tim is hardly a newbie when it comes to PPS Monitoring and Analytics.
I've focused my PPS time on the planning element and normally throw the M&A elements over Tims fence so I've not spent as much time with Monitoring and Analytics as I should have. Tim has got wise and has installed a new, higher fence, therefore, I thought it was about time I put the book to the 'newbie' test.
It's my first Rational Guide and I really like the concept. The guides are limited to 250 pages so they have to be concise and to the point. I like the 'pocket' size, the formatting and layout that I presume is consistent across all Rational Guides.
Considering the book is penned by two authors, I couldn't tell. The writing style is clear and consistent and pitched at the same level throughout the book. The detail is very well written with forward and backward references to other parts of the book to seamlessly link everything together.
The book is split into 5 parts, Introduction, Installation and Config, The Elements, Implementation and Management and finally Extras which at first I thought was just an index and an advert for the other related Rational Guides - wow, thanks, you shouldn't have - but as it happens, on the very last page is information on how to register your book to obtain more information such as extra chapters and samples that the authors, Nick Barclay and Adrian Downes, could not squeeze into the already packed 250 pages. One perhaps obvious casualty of the page limit is ProClarity, in the words of the authors, "It is beyond the scope of this book to detail the functionality available in the ProClarity product suite..".
The introduction covers a lot of ground; Performance Management, BI and the Microsoft BI Stack and PerformancePoint Server 2007 itself. A whopping 20 pages of intro which does eat into the 250 page limit - I'm not sure whether the scope of the intro was specified by the Rational Guide editors or the authors wanted to widen the audience but I'm not convinced it needed all of it at the expense of product related material. It will be interesting to see how much of it is re-used in the PerformancePoint Planning companion book.
The main body of the book follows a 'theory and practice' type approach. Firstly explaining, in detail, each subject or feature, following up with a step-by-step tutorial to implement what you've just learnt. Each chapter and section tends to build on the previous one so it's worth reading from front to back rather than darting around chapters of interest and this is largely down to the nature of the product rather than any conscious decision I'm sure. All in all, for me, this approach works; not only do I gain some background insight and theory behind the product, I also gain some touchy-feely experience that you can't glean from just reading alone.
If you are a newbie wanting a book to smooth out the learning curve to get you up to speed quickly and easily, with not only the product but with the theory behind the product too, this book, in my opinion, is it. It can't take you to guru status but it provides a solid framework to provide the initial stepping stone. To sum up, rather than spend half of the 4-day, ~£1000, Microsoft Partner PPS course learning about Monitoring and Analytics, take a couple of days off, buy this book and use it on a VPC image of the MS BI Stack - I bet you'll learn more!
Back on November 9th, the, I think, last available day it could be taken, Tim Kent and I took the Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007, Application Development Beta Exam (71-556) at the Prometric Testing facility hosted by Global Knowledge Training in Wokingham.
Soon after, we were both invited to Seattle to attend the PPS Exam Preparation workshop to review the exam in readiness for the official release. Disappointingly I couldn't make it due to other PPS related commitments, however, much to my disgust ☺ Tim went without me, and by all accounts had a blast
on the slopes of Whistler meeting a like-minded bunch of people.
Today we both found out we actually passed! This means we don't have to re-take the officially released exam as we get an automatic credit for passing the beta version - nice !
I have not seen any official release information for the exam proper but it must be imminent now that we've received our results. I'm not sure if this is fact but I have been told that Microsoft use the '71' prefix for Beta exams so we should expect the official exam to be numbered 70-556. Anyone know if this numbering convention is true?
Obviously my hands are tied by the exam NDA so I can't reveal any details about the content of the exam. Already publicly available is the list of topics that the exam covers, this list, repeated below, does match my experience of the beta exam. I'll stop there as I've probably already said too much ! Good luck if you go for it. Oh yeah, happy new year !
Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007, Application Development Exam Topics
- Configure properties of predefined dimensions
- Configure the time dimension
- Configure a member property
- Populate dimensions and member sets
- Update dimension members and member set, and member properties
- Create a PPS model
- Configure the current period
- Configure model and dimension usage within sites
- Transfer data between models
Configuring Business Roles and Process Management
- Configure business roles
- Configure security for users
- Configure assignments
- Configure an approval structure
Developing Business Rules
- Develop an assignment rule
- Develop a definition rule
- Develop an allocation rule
- Configure template rules
- Configure rule execution
Building Excel Add-In Forms and Reports
- Build an Excel Add-In report
- Configure an Excel Add-In report as a form
- Configure report filters
- Format an Excel Add-In report
- Create a report by using the Dashboard Designer
- Add a data source connection
- Add a new Web page report
- Configure a KPI by using Dashboard Designer
- Create a scorecard
- Build a dashboard
Installing PerformancePoint Server
- Install the monitoring and planning services
- Configure a PerformancePoint application
- Configure the PerformancePoint server
- Assign users to administrator roles