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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!

Life can be tough for consulting companies. Some potential customers have ben burned by unscrupulous consulting firms in the past and can now be somewhat hesitant to give the consulting industry another chance. Most consultants of course are fair, ethical, and deliver good value but end up paying the price for the few bad apples. I have recently had the unfortunate opportunity to observe a number of situations in the performance management consulting industry where the customer was being misled and will probably be left with a bad taste of consulting. In some cases the performance management software vendors are adding to the problem.

Let me spell out the three types of problems I've witnessed. Each of these has actually occurred more than once. The first is an old trick that you would think intelligent business people would be on to by now - getting the prospect to focus on the billing rate, not the total project cost. In the most recent case it was really a CFO that created the problem, not the consulting company, who in the end benefited from his short-sightedness. This CFO was evaluating several consulting companies to help with his performance project. He made his decision based on one single factor - hourly billing rate. That's it. He made the false assumption that all were equally expert and he was going to find the lowest cost solution. Well, in the end, he found the most costly (and probably least effective) solution. He neglected to ask how many consultants would be involved and for how long. So, what he got was a busload of junior consultants who moved in for months. What he could have had instead was a higher rate senior expert for a much shorter duration. The total cost would have been lower, the time to payback shorter, and the likelihood of success greater.

The next two problems are both related to the same thing - helping a company select the right performance management software for their needs. This is near and dear to my heart since this is one of our core service offerings at BPM Partners. While we help our fair share of companies with this task, there are still some that are misled by consultants, and more recently the vendors themselves. You would think it would be obvious to companies purchasing this service that vendor neutrality is key. Apparently not. Many consulting companies that implement, and in some cases even resell, a particular vendor's products try to pass themselves off as independent vendor selection experts. Does the customer really think they would help them select a solution other than the one that generates their large implementation revenue stream? Now the vendors themselves have gotten into the act. A number of them are offering six-week business assessments/insight services to help a company determine its technology needs. In most cases this service is free (that should be a red flag). Is there any chance whatsoever that after their review they would recommend another vendors' products? In both cases there is a high probability that the customer will be force-fed a solution that, while addressing the needs of the vendor and/or consultant, falls somehwhat short of being the best fit for the customer's needs.

The main problem in all of this is that these consultants and vendors are creating a potential future problem for all of us. Sure they are making money now, but they could be jeopardizing their long-term prospects. If enough people are ultimately unhappy with their performance solutions or consultants the word will get out. The result of that could be a slowdown in the adoption and growth of performance management itself.


Posted September 15, 2008 1:45 PM
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