Using OBIEE 11g KPI's to Create Actionable Intelligence

Today Doug Ross is back as our guest blogger, sharing some of the in's and out's of the new KPI feature of OBIEE 11g.

Using KPI’s To Create Actionable Intelligence

by Doug Ross, Oracle Consulting

One of the challenges faced by IT organizations with implementing a pervasive enterprise performance management environment is convincing business partners to think beyond traditional historical operational reporting and spreadsheet analysis. Oracle Business Intelligence 11g offers a key new feature that may help to encourage a more forward-looking approach via the definition of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) within the BI environment which can be used as the catalyst toward driving more responsive interaction between users and data.  

What is a KPI?

A KPI is a measurement of a particular business process which is compared against specific goals and objectives of an organization.   KPI’s are typically tracked over time as a way to monitor performance and drive business decisions to help improve upon that performance.  KPI’s typically have both a goal and a status that reflects performance relative to the goal.  In addition, KPI’s normally are “dimensionalized” – meaning they can be analyzed by any number of defined dimension attributes associated with the KPI.

How Can KPI’s Used in OBIEE 11g?

Once defined, a KPI in OBIEE 11g can be used in several ways.   It can be used in an analysis dashboard to allow a user to view KPI performance and drill into the details to understand why a KPI value may be off target.   KPI’s can also be used to automatically trigger alerts to specific users using OBIEE’s agent mechanism when KPI target values reach critical status levels.   In addition to the automatic alerts triggered by agents,

OBIEE KPI’s also can be configured with another new feature - Action Links – which allow the user to initiate a action based on the status of the KPI.   The action link can reference another analysis, send an email, kick off a workflow, or any other process to assist in making the KPI the basis for “actionable intelligence”.    Finally, KPI’s can be used as components of an overall BI Scorecard to assess performance against strategic organizational goals.
How Are KPI’s Defined in OBI EE 11g?

KPI’s are created within the new Unified Framework interface to OBIEE 11g.

kpi1.jpg

Users who have been granted to the privilege to create KPI’s begin the process by clicking on the KPI link under the Create… Performance Management section of the Unified Framework interface of OBIEE.   Next, select a Subject Area where the underlying data model for the KPI exists.
kpi2.jpg
This will initiate the KPI definition process which consists of four steps:  General Properties, Dimensionality, Thresholds, and Related Documents.

General Properties
There are several properties that are defined for each KPI:

kpi3.jpg
The Business Owner is the userID of the person responsible for the business performance of the KPI. Business owners have the ability to override the KPI's statuses.

The Actual Value is typically a metric or a formula based on a metric which will be compared to a target value.  Clicking on the dropdown arrow allows for selection of a metric from the KPI’s associated Subject Area.

The Target Value is the value that Actual Value will be compared to in order to determine the status and performance of the KPI.  Clicking on the dropdown arrow allows for selection of a metric from the KPI’s associated Subject Area  or a more complex formula can be entered by clicking on the Fx button.

The Enable Trending checkbox allows for selecting a Time Dimension attribute to compare the Actual Value against.  This capability will not be covered in this article.

Examples of selected values are shown below:

kpi4.jpg
Dimensionality
The Dimensionality option for KPI definition describes how the KPI values should be presented to the user for analysis.  Dimensions are categorizations of data.  When users say they want to see numbers "by" something or "over" something, they are identifying the dimensions of the
data. Common dimensions are geography, product, customer, and time.

kpi5.jpg
By clicking on the Add button, dimension attributes can be added to the KPI.

kpi6.jpg
The Value column of the Dimensionality screen shows “Not Pinned” for the dimension entries.  “Pinning” a value would allow for setting a specific dimension value that would always be used to filter the data.  The pinned value cannot be changed by the user.

Thresholds

The Thresholds screen is where the performance of the KPI against the target value is categorized.

kpi7.jpg
The KPI Threshold specifies a goal type (high, low, or target) and a series of entries that “bucket” the result into any number of status categories based on a range of values.   For each range, a status text value, icon, text color, and a set of actions can be defined.   So, in the example below, the KPI is set to show any value above $2 million as OK, between $2 and $1 million as Warning, and below $1 million as Critical.

kpi8.jpg

Related Documents
The Related Documents option for the KPI allows for associating either other OBIEE catalog objects (dashboards, analysis, etc.) or links to URL’s to the KPI.   These Related Documents will show as available links when the KPI is opened.
kpi9.jpg
After saving the KPI, it is then available within the Unified Framework for use within dashboards, scorecards, KPI Watchlists, and other areas for analysis.

kpi10.jpg
This article only touched on the basics of KPI’s within OBI EE 11g.   Please reference the OBIEE 11g documentation to get a more complete picture of the full capabilities of this powerful analytical tool.
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