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The Trouble With Tribbles … err .. KPIs

This past week I finished off a proof of concept project for a client in Manhattan.  While implementing the solution, I ran into another shortcoming of MOSS KPIs (see here for a previous KPI issue and my workaround).

Background: We used SharePoint Designer workflow to model a fairly complex multi-month long business process.  As it chugged along, it would update some state information in a list.  KPIs use this data to do their mojo.

We decided to create a new site each time a new one of these business processes kicks off.  Aside from the workflow itself, these sites host several document libraries, use audience targeting and so forth.  Just a bunch of stuff to help with collaboration among the internal employees, traveling employees and the client’s participating business partners.

We also wanted to show some KPIs that monitor the overall health of that specific business process as promoted by the workflow state data and viewed using the KPIs.

Finally, we used KPI list items that do a count on a view on a list in the site (as opposed to pulling from another data source, like excel or SQL).

The Problem: As you can imagine, assuming we were to carry the basic idea forward into a production world, we would want a site template.  Provision a new site based off a "business process" template.

The problem is that you can’t seem to get a functioning KPI that way.  When I create a new site based on a template with a KPI List and KPI web part, the new site’s KPI data are broken.  The new site’s KPI list points at whatever source you defined when you first saved it as a template.

By way of example:

  • Create a new site and build it to perfection.  This site includes the KPI data.
  • Save that as a template.
  • Create a new site and base if off the template.
  • This new site’s KPI list items’ sources point to the site template, not the current site.

The instantiation process does not correct the URL.

I tried to solve this by specifying a relative URL when defining the KPI list item.  However, I couldn’t get any variation of that to work.

I always want to pair up these "problem" blog posts with some kind of solution, but in this case I don’t have a good one.  The best I can figure is that you need to go in to the newly provisioned site and fix everything manually.  The UI makes this even harder because changing the URL of the source list causes a refresh, so you really have to redefine the whole thing from scratch.

If anyone knows a better way to handle this, please post a comment.

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6 responses to “The Trouble With Tribbles … err .. KPIs

  1. Unknown May 17, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Paul – Another shortcoming that I reported with KPIs and was confirmed with Microsoft:
     
    When you display KPIs through the KPI web part, clicking on one of the status indicators will take you to a details page. However, if the KPIs are trying to read across multiple sites, this functionality is broken… you will get an error message when trying to display details. I reported this to MS last month. They tested and confirmed it is a bug.
     
    Regards,
    Mark
     

  2. Jeremy May 18, 2008 at 6:57 am

    It\’s obviously not as simply as exporting a Site Template, but you can automate the creation of the site by creating a Solution Feature and on it activating in a Blank Site create what you need. It\’s a slow painful process, but gets the job done. I just wish there wre more automated ways of pointing at a mock up and saving it as a template! "Solution Generator" on steriods in the Nirvana for our development team at the moment 😉

  3. Robert May 19, 2008 at 6:59 am

    I had the exact same problem. I "solved" it by creating a web part that modified the KPIs to use the data source on the current site then delete itself and refresh the page in the browser by redirecting the request to the same page. Sort of a cludge, but it worked.
     
    Obviously you have to write code to prevent the web part from deleting itself from the page it resides on on the site you\’re using as a template since you want the web part to be included in the saved site template…

  4. Paul May 19, 2008 at 7:27 am

    namnlös,
     
    That\’s very interesting.  You should consider blogging about that 🙂
     
    If blogging isn\’t your cup of tea, I\’d be happy to write something up and post it here on your behalf.
     
     
     

  5. Robert May 19, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Hmm.. I wonder why it displayed my name as "(namnlös)" It means "Nameless" in Swedish ;). I tried updating my profile so I hope it works better this time!
     
    Actually, I do have a blog which I post to way too seldom (http://www.sharepointblogs.com/bobsbonanza). I don\’t know why I haven\’t thought about blogging about it, but I will. Thanks for the suggestion! 🙂
     
      // Robert

  6. Paul May 27, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    PaulI haven\’t played with it yet, but could the SharePoint Config Store help here?

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