FRX Financial Reporting for MAS 90 appears to have gained a new lease on life. According to Mark Chinsky of Client’s First Business Solutions – New Jersey, the FRX Report Writer is back under development (or at least is being promoted as a solution by Microsoft) after being slated for discontinuation in favor of PerformancePoint Server.
Mark spotted an article in Network Computing that states in part:
Microsoft made a surprise announcement that presents good news and bad news for customers and partners who were developing on the PerformancePoint Server product. The good news is that the dashboarding, scorecarding and analytic capabilities of PerformancePoint are now being made available as free services to customers with an enterprise license of SharePoint Server. The bad news is that PerformancePoint and its planning functionality will no longer be offered as a separate product, though there will be a final “Service Pack3″ upgrade to the planning functionality released this summer. Translation? Microsoft’s BI team is backing away from deep financial and operational performance management, ceding those opportunities to the Microsoft Dynamics unit and stranding some customers and partners in the process.
Microsoft says it is bundling high-demand PerformancePoint functionality like dashboarding, scorecarding and advanced analytics with SharePoint to better fulfill its longstanding goal of spreading business intelligence to the broadest possible base of users.
“By putting this functionality into SharePoint, it makes it available to exponentially more users,” said Kristina Kerr, Lead Product Manager, Microsoft Business Intelligence, in an interview with Intelligent Enterprise. Share “As for the financial budgeting and planning piece, we found that it involves very different buying behaviors, different people and different deployment scenarios, so we’re very deliberately splitting those two areas.”
A final upgrade of PerformancePoint may buy planning-focused customers and partners some time, but nobody wants to make long-range plans around a product without a road map. Thus, one of two paths forward Microsoft points to exploits what Kerr describes as “broad planning capabilities” it can offer with the combination of SQL Server, SharePoint Server and Excel.
“For example, we have an Excel add-in that exposes the analytic capabilities of SQL Server Analysis Services,” Kerr explained. “Analysis Services offers a function called Forecast, which is really predictive analytics based on historical trends. [That's the kind of functionality] that’s suitable for scenarios that aren’t specific to the office of finance but that call for broad planning and forecasting capabilities.”
A second path forward for partners and customers interesting in planning is to work with the Microsoft Dynamics ERP and applications unit, which will continue to develop its Forecaster and FRX products for forecasting, budgeting and financial reporting.