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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!

December 2006 Archives

For many years the consulting industry was looked down upon as greedy, dictatorial, or simply ineffective. Even lawyers laughed at us. In more recent times however, consulting has gained a new level of respect. I believe this is tied to the rise of many small, expert, boutique-style groups. These consulting firms have a deep expertise in one primary area, don't try to be all things to all people, and share their knowledge freely through conferences, webcasts, articles, blogs and the like (of course they also still focus a good part of their time on fee-based consulting engagements). Most of the contributors to the B-Eye Network fall into this group. Each one is a recognized expert and is highly regarded in his/her field. More companies are engaging consultants as the costs, complexities, and visibility of BI and BPM projects are growing. It would appear to be a great time for consulting. Well, a consultant I saw speak at a conference last month could change all that. His 'performance' has the potential to set the industry back ten years at least.

I knew this guy was going to be trouble when all the pre-conference promotional material listed him as 'author/consultant'. He was not just any old consultant, this guy was an author! When we arrived at the conference and received the conference proceedings book I found slide printouts in there for all the other speakers, but not him. Was his presentation so special that he didn't want us to see it in advance? Did it contain so much valuable intellectual property that he didn't want everyone to have a copy? The answer soon became clear. As we sat down to watch his presentation workers wheeled two large flip charts on stage. No slides, flip charts - we had entered consulting hell. Preparing for a real roll up your sleeves type presentation I couldn't wait for him to fill up page upon page with wonderful new information, theories, best practices and more. At last Mr. Author/Consultant came on stage. The opening section of his hour long presentation was spent on a 20-minute anecdote about something he did in his personal life that somehow tied into his first point (as it turned out, his only point): we are not close enough to our customers. As he paced the stage, leaning in to the audience for emphasis, he went on to tell several more rambling stories about the Civil War, Seinfeld, and other things I can't even recall. That was it. Nothing of value. No depth. No thoughts on how to act on the one point he made (although he did suggest we get closer to our customers). What about the flip charts? It turns out he could have used just one, and one sheet was all he needed. He drew a simple org chart with an executive on top, managers in between, and on the bottom, disconnected from the rest, you guessed it: the customer. When he opened the floor to questions there was just one from the 125 or so senior business managers in attendance - 'What was the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld currently up to?' That just about says it all. The last piece of this picture fell into place a few minutes later when this guy returned to his company's trade show booth to autograph his book. They had arranged to have a huge spotlight shining on him and a photographer was snapping away. I have since read the book (it was free to attendees and I wanted to see if he was really as lacking in concrete ideas as he appeared to be at the conference). I can now say he is neither an author nor a consultant.

Posted December 5, 2006 9:18 AM
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Continuing to address frequent user questions that come up at conferences let's look at BPM vs. BPM, Business Performance Management vs. Business Process Management. These two initiatives do in fact have more than their acronyms in common. When executed properly each one can improve the bottom line. How they accomplish it though is very different. Process Management is focused on optimizing individual business processes at a fairly detailed level. Improving the flow of loan paperwork and the review and approval process in a bank would be an example of this. A more efficient process should reduce costs and also potentially allow for more revenue opportunities. Performance Management focuses on higher level strategic goals. Increasing the profit margin or revenue growth rate or market share might be part of an initiative of this type. In fact, improving the efficiency of various business processes (Process Management) might be necessary to accomplish some of the strategic profitability goals of the company (Performance Management). It would seem then that the two BPMs are in fact complementary initiatives. However, don't jump to the conclusion that you should work on them together as part of one overarching 'BPM' project. It's too much for anyone to bite off. Each project has it's own set of detailed and unique requirements. The vendors that provide these solutions are different for each BPM so you have two different vendor evaluation processes to go through. Sample Performance vendors: Hyperion, Cognos, OutlookSoft. Sample Process vendors: Metastorm, Appian, Savvion. Lastly, the skill sets and domain expertise required of the team members and/or consultants also differs based on which BPM you are focused on. Our suggestion is to do the two BPMs sequentially, focusing first on where you have the greatest pain.

Posted December 1, 2006 11:19 AM
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