Business Intelligence (BI) reporting provides a vehicle for analyzing data and presenting information to help corporate executives, business managers and users make more informed business decisions. Initially, BI tools were primarily used by data analysts and other IT professionals who ran analyses and produced reports with query results for business users. Increasingly, however, executives and managers are using BI reporting tools themselves, thanks partly to the development of self-service BI and simpler data authoring tools.
BI reporting for Project Server encompasses a variety of tools that enable organizations to collect data from the Project Server database and prepare it for analysis by creating reports, dashboards and data visualizations to make the analytical results available to corporate decision makers. The potential benefits include improved decision making on project staffing, raised awareness on potential budget overruns, and improved reaction times in addressing delays to key milestones and deliverables. Using reporting tools that allow you to visualize and analyze relevant data help you better understand the status of your projects so you can make fact-based and insightful decisions that will improve your project performance.
Since I’ve been teaching BI reporting for Project Server, I’ve observed an interesting divide in the notion of who should be authoring these reports. Should it be the users that generate the data or the database owner who watches over the data to maintain its security and integrity? In my opinion it’s a combination of both. In the context of Project Server, the Project Managers or the Project Management Office (PMO) is likely more familiar with the data so they can ensure the right data is put in front of the decision maker but they may not be familiar with the data structures to selectively query and filter the data.
So the second question becomes is it easier to train the IT staff that manage the database or the PMO staff that know the data? In many cases, it’s easier to train the PMO staff on how to access the data and show them what data structures contain the most common data elements used for reporting such as project meta data, cost data and resource work and capacity data. This especially holds true for reports that can be generated using an authoring tool like Excel and a dashboard publishing tool like SharePoint Dashboard Designer. If the report is more complex or the data needs to be pared down for performance reasons, a SQL developer may be needed to build the report using SQL Reporting Services. But when this case exists, the developer needs to work closely with the data owner to make sure they are capturing the correct data.
The end goal with BI Reporting for Project Server is to become an intelligent organization that’s able to mobilize the knowledge in order to enhance project performance. Organizational learning depends critically upon information management -- the capacity to capture the organization's project information and to use it for organizational growth and improvement.
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