As most of you hopefully know by now, the PerformancePoint Planning component has been discontinued by Microsoft in January 2009. Secondly the the PerformancePoint Server suite functionality will become part of Office SharePoint Server Enterprise Edition.
I have spent the last two years focusing on PerformancePoint planning deployments for three mid-sized companies. It is unfortunate the Planning has been discontinued but Financial Planning project are more about defining the customer budgeting and planning process than about the technology used to implement the solution. Secondly given the level of difficulty it took to implement a successful PerformancePoint Planning project and the breadth of knowledge required to do so (PEL, MDX, Store Procedures, Dimensional modeling etc.) , the learning curve for a new product should be fairly short.
The key challenge is finding a product that can provide a complete solution which allows the business users to create models or cubes and build and update dimensions. Secondly a good front end is required for input the budget whether it is an Excel or Web interface or a combination of both.
In most cases Analysis Services or Essbase can be used as the backend for these types of products and it Integration Services can still be used for the Data Integration. However there will be very few products on the Market that will be able to provide and end to end solution using only one vendor which is what PerfomancePoint could of provided in the long term.
Microsoft was on the right track with their product offering. SQL Server 2005 provided the data store, data integration and reporting for the Performance Management applications. While Management Reporter allowed you to easily report against a PerformancePoint Planning cube for internal and external reporting. It will be challenging to find a solution similar to this again in the market place with the low cost of ownership that these products provided.
I am still currently working on one planning project If you have any questions on how to do something in PerformancePoint Planning feel free to leave a comment on the site. I will probably continue to post items on the site until the end of 2009.