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Craig Schiff

I am very excited about this opportunity to share my perspectives and experience in my BeyeNETWORK Blog. For those of you who may not have read my articles and newsletters over the past few years, I hope you will appreciate a vendor-independent perspective on all things related to Business Performance Management (BPM). I focus on key topics organizations should consider throughout their BPM project lifecycle, from early stage requirements definition and justification, key measure development, vendor selection and finally, successful deployment and rollout. Of course, market trends and vendor updates will also be part of the mix. Please stop by on a regular basis to see what's new, and to make this interactive, please share your opinions. If you have a specific question, contact me directly at cschiff@bpmpartners.com.

About the author >

Craig, President and CEO of BPM Partners, is a pioneer in business performance management (BPM). Craig helped create and define the field as it evolved from business intelligence and analytic applications into BPM. He has worked with BPM and related technologies for more than 20 years, first as a founding member at IMRS/Hyperion Software (now Hyperion Solutions) and later cofounded OutlookSoft where he was President and CEO.

Craig is a frequent author on BPM topics and monthly columnist for the BeyeNETWORK. He has led several jointly produced webcasts with Business Finance Magazine including "Beyond the Hype: The Truth about BPM Vendors," the three-part vendor review entitled "BPM Xpo" and "BPM 101: Navigating the Treacherous Waters of Business Performance Management." He is a recipient of the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. BPM Partners is a vendor-independent professional services firm focused exclusively on BPM, providing expertise that helps companies successfully evaluate and deploy BPM systems. Craig can be reached at cschiff@bpmpartners.com.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Craig's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

October 2005 Archives

When we started OutlookSoft back in 1999 we intended to differentiate ourselves from the competition in three ways: by delivering a completely web-based solution, offering truly unified BPM, and giving users the option of subscribing to a hosted version. The unified and web-based messages played well. The hosted option did not. The larger prospects were very concerned about the security of their critical corporate data residing on a third-party host. The smaller prospects were more open to it, but at the time it turned out to be cheaper to buy your own equipment and keep it in house. Times have changed though and prospects are coming to us now at BPM Partners and asking for help in evaluating hosted BPM solutions.

Salesforce.com has clearly paved the way in terms of getting more companies to host confidential data and to subscribe to a key business application. In the pure BPM arena ActiveStrategy has been successfully offering a hosted dashboard application for several years now. A recent client of ours (a small natural resources company) wanted to move forward with BPM, but at a fairly low price point. In addition, they have a very small IT group so they wanted to minimize IT requirements. Hosted BPM was a logical path for them and they looked at two relatively new entrants in the space: HostAnalytics and AdaptivePlanning. Both of these vendors offer very capable budgeting/planning/forecasting and reporting solutions. For the small to mid-size company this is clearly an attractive way to get on the BPM bandwagon. As with Salesforce.com we expect to see these products grow in capabilities over time. Hosted BPM has definitely arrived and its only going to get better from here.

Posted October 23, 2005 2:36 PM
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A consultant I have worked with off and on over the years recently formed a software company called Xlerant. His mission is to deliver what he and his backers are calling 'guided business intelligence'. The intent is to make BI more accessible to more users by putting a wizard-like front-end on it. His first area of focus is Business Performance Management (itself a front-end of sorts to BI).

More specifically, he is focused on the exploding are of budgeting and planning. Many vendors offer excellent planning solutions today, but their focus is on enterprise-wide collection, consolidation, and reporting. BudgetPak from Xlerant is targeted at the individual cost center manager charged with creating their annual budget. Unlike the Finance managers, budgeting is not something they deal with on a regular basis. The product is designed to walk them through the process with intelligent prompting, displays of data and rules from HR, and an overall workflow. The end result should be a timely, less painful creation of a more complete and accurate budget. Will this company succeed? Will this expand to other aspects of BI? I do think 'guided business intelligence' is useful and there is a market for it. However, the end user expects this to come from the primary BI/BPM vendor himself as part of the core product. There is a gulf today between client expectations and vendor realities which Xlerant can address. Over time however, it must be the vendors themselves that make their products easier and more accessible through their own development efforts or by acquiring/partnering with third-party developers like Xlerant.

Posted October 22, 2005 8:09 PM
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A recent interaction with a prospective customer has further shaken my faith in the ability of typical companies to 'do BPM right'. Unfortunately there is a growing stack of data indicating that while companies are happy with BPM, they are not necessarily happy with their vendors or the road they travelled to get there. Some supporting data can be found here. Now back to that prospect. What did he do that was so terrible? He is paying money to a consulting firm to help him select the best BPM solution. That's good. Unfortunately, the consulting firm he chose to help him do this is as biased as they come. What's worse, this is a common problem and a dirty little secret of the BPM world.

The bulk of consulting firms in the business performance management space are implementation firms. They typically partner with one or two of the key vendors and implement their products almost exclusively. This is where they make the bulk of their revenue. However, greed often gets the best of them and if they can make money helping a client select the product to be implemented they will do that as well. How can they objectively help a client find the 'best' product if they have a vested interest in seeing them go with one of the products they implement? Not to mention that many partnerships with the vendors also include a finder's fee for sending business their way, further steering these firms towards recommending their partner's products. The vendors know this of course and when an innocent prospect asks for help in identifying a consulting firm to guide them through vendor selection, who do you think the vendors suggest? One of their most loyal partners of course. It's all rather incestuous if you ask me, and terribly unfair to the prospect who is spending money on a consultant who's going to probably direct him to the solution that's best for the consulting firm, not necessarily the prospect.

How do theses consultants convince smart companies to engage them? One simple word: unified. The question they'll pose is: 'do you want to have work with two different consulting companies - one for selection, one for implementation'? Sounds logical. However, if you don't yet know which product you are going to ultimately select how do you know which implementation firm to hire? To say it another way, if the implementation firm is truly unbiased they may very well help you select a product they don't implement. In that case you are back to having to work with two consulting firms, and you have done your selection work with a firm that may not be as expert as someone that does selection for a living. If they steer you to a product they do implement you have the benefit of a single company for selection and implementation, but most importantly do you know if they really helped you find the best solution for your business?

Posted October 7, 2005 10:14 AM
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With the exploding demand for corporate and departmental dashboards it should surprise no one that new product is showing up on a regular basis. What is somewhat surprising is that these products are not always coming from the usual suspects. Satori Group, developers of proCube, have recently announced their own dashboard product called OneGlance. We will provide more details after we meet with them in the next few weeks. Another vendor new to dashboards is Bowstreet, probably best known for their Portlet Factory. They have released a portal-based dashboard product and we believe it is a positive addition to the space.

We recently met with the senior executives, developers, and product managers at Bowstreet. These guys have done their homework. For a group of people 'new' to the dashboard space we were astonished by how much they understood about what customers are looking for and where the challenges lie. More importantly, this knowledge is reflected in their product. Besides all the standard charts, gauges, etc. in Bowstreet's Actionable Dashboards we were most impressed by the power of its profiling technology for customized views, built-in process workflow, service-oriented architecture for easier data access,and as the name implies, the actionable and collaborative nature of it. One of the challenges of dashboards is making them truly actionable, and the portal framework goes a long way to helping achieve this goal. While viewing your key performance indicators on the dashboard you can run another application to get a more detailed view of the metric, or run an application that allows you to act on the data you have just viewed.

As the dashboard market continues to grow and evolve each new entrant needs to demonstrate some differentiators to make a name for themselves, and we believe Bowstreet has successfully accomplished this.

Posted October 6, 2005 9:23 AM
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