The Microsoft marketing team must have some sort of obsession with the letter “P” and the words “Point” and “Power” because I have found myself tounge tied multiple times when attempting to recite the three main reporting options for SharePoint dashboards. They are:
- Power View
- Performance Point
- Reporting Services
If you are familiar with MS Office Suite’s Power Point and Excel’s Power Pivot add-on then you can begin to see the redundancy in Microsoft’s naming conventions. Can you say Power View, Power Pivot, Performance Point, Power Point five times fast?
Each of these reporting options have varying degrees of flexibility and limitations and are therefore appropriate for different uses. I can’t honestly say that I have a strong preference for any one of these options. I enjoy the higher degree of control and advanced capabilities that are available in reporting services but I also appreciate the great ease of use that Power View provides. I will avoid a long sales pitch that list all of the capabilities of each reporting tool ( you can read that on the MS website) and instead I will focus on the major contrasting features that I’ve noticed so far.
Power View Pros
- This tool is extremely easy to use and intuitive.
- The tool incorporates automatic formatting such as the addition of a scroll bar when the data extends beyond the page.
- Power View reports are visually appealing making presentations captivating and impressive.
- There is the ability to export to Power Point, enhancing the presentation usability of this tool.
Power View Cons
- There are no Excel export capabilities – It’s a sad day for Excel lovers. This tool will probably prove to be too limiting for users who would like to manipulate the data on other platforms.
- No Pie chart capabilities exist. This may seem like a minor offense…that is until you really need a pie chart.
- No drill down capabilities exist
Performance Point Pros
- Dual Y axis functionality exists in Performance Point. You may chart three different variables on your graphs using a left and right axis measure along with the horizontal axis measure.
- Decomposition tree functionality allows the user drill down to the details of the data numerous times.
- KPI capabilities for score cards.
- Pie chart capabilities.
Performance Point Cons
- Dual Y axis functionality is limited to percentage. Often it is beneficial to include three measures on a graph. You may want a count on the left axis, time on the horizontal axis, and a different count on the right axis. Unfortunately you will be limited to having a percentage on the right axis because Performance Point cannot aggregate a non-percentage number on this axis.
- Bar chart reports may extend to a second page. The user can’t easily tell that there is a second half of the report on a hidden page and if they do click to the second page the bar chart will auto-magically re-scale to fit the new set of data which is visually misleading.
- The layout is more limited than a Reporting Services report.
Reporting Services Pros
- Can deliver the report through SharePoint dashboards, as automated email attachments or links, or as an alert based subscription.
- Greater flexibility and less design constraints than other reporting options.
- Multiple data sources are easily combined into one report.
Reporting Services Cons
- Drill down functionality is not automated like it is in Performance Point.
- Not as easy to use as other reporting tools and dashboard creation is more complex.
As you can see from this assessment, there is no clear “winner” here. You will have to analyze your user base to determine their needs and decipher which reporting tool is the best fit. And remember, you don’t have to choose just one. A user’s SharePoint based dashboard can easily accommodate reports from all three tools.
Please feel free to comment. Happy programming!