Author: Brian Paulen & Jeff Finken
Publisher: Apress, 2009
Aimed at: Business intelligence users
Pros: Good explanations and relevant hands-on examples to work through
Cons: Exercises let down by missing database tables
Reviewed by: Sue Gee
This is a very practical guide to creating dashboards that give decision makers and information workers the information they require in the right format and at in a timely fashion.
After presenting its definition of analytics, a term which it uses interchangeably with "business intelligence", the opening chapter presents the first of a set of extended hands-on examples. Intended as an overview of analytics, this example, which entails more than 30 steps many of which are illustrated by screen dumps, also serves as a first encounter with the database used throughout the book. Rather than creating a simplified scenario for the purposes of this book the authors use a "real" and therefore massive and complicated database which tends to make the exercises more difficult to follow.
Chapter 2 presents "Seven Keys to Successful Reporting Projects" with a review of the appropriate Microsoft tools for various tasks and examples of well-executed reports and Chapter 3 is devoted to the paramount considerations in selecting and defining KPIs (key performance indicators).
Chapters 4 to 6 are concerned with creating reports and dashboards and each chapter presents a long hands-on exercise using components of the Microsoft BI platform including BI Development Studio, and SQL Server Reporting Services and Analysis Services Project in Visual Studio. Chapter 7 sets out a working definition for "performance management" and it shows how to deploy the KPI dashboard built in an earlier exercise in a web application using both Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint. Chapter 8 is concerned with the project management phases of an analytics system, including its maintenance. The final chapter presents three case studies which explore reporting in an online or cloud environment, a sales and marketing scenario and detailed web analytics. Even in this chapter there are hands-on exercises so that the highly practical nature of this book is sustained to the very end.