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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!

Recently in Everything Else Category

As I've been following the financial services and auto industry bailout efforts it occurred to me that BPM (or lack thereof) may have played a role in the problems these companies are now facing. In addition, BPM can help the rest of us deal with the fallout from these business failures. We have had many BPM conversations over the years with one of the financial services firms recently receiving aid, and one of the automakers seeking aid. Both of these companies have failed miserably with business performance management. For starters, they didn't actually engage us to help (always a mistake). Seriously though, despite good intentions they were unable to pull off a successful BPM project. This is both symptomatic of their management problems, and one of many obstacles to good decision making.

The financial services firm owns many BPM software products (which is its own problem), but is not really doing BPM. These products are implemented across the company in specific departments or geographic regions to address one-off needs. In some cases they are used to enhance reporting, in others to replace spreadsheet budgeting.There is no company-wide system tied to strategic goals and management of performance against those goals. The good news is that they have a project to create just such a system. The bad news is that it is dead on arrival. The company is a political mine-field, a collection of fiefdoms. The person in charge of BPM is a smart guy, but with little authority. He needs to manage by influence. Good luck. The auto company we've spoken with has a slightly different challenge. We have been approached several times by a mid-level manager who fully understands the value of BPM and how badly his company needs it, but he can't get buy-in from upper management. As a matter of fact he can't even get their attention. The best he has been able to do is to get the ok to form a committee to do preliminary research on how BPM can be used to improve reporting. This bureaucratic organization has made little progress on this initiative in the course of the several years we have been following them. The only thing they have succeeding in doing apparently is running out of money. Which brings us back to, well, us. These companies and others like them have created an economic meltdown that we all must now deal with. How can we use BPM to get through these volatile times? For one thing, BPM can enable us to easily model the outcomes of various actions under consideration. If we are thinking about closing a plant for example what will the actual cost savings be and what will the impact be on revenues? In addition BPM can give us a more holistic view of this decision and show us how other parts of the company may be affected. As we look to better manage costs the BPM system can highlight areas for improvement where productivity or returns per employee are low. On the other hand it can also help us to optimize profitability. It can identify our most profitable products so we focus on those. It can also show us where our prices are out of line with our true costs of manufacturing, supporting, and delivering our products and services. Many BPM systems today also include risk management capabilities, quite useful for companies whose appetite for risk has gone way down. Perhaps most importantly, BPM enables management to make the frequent and fast decisions required by the daily market gyrations with confidence and relative ease. They have one consistent set of data that they trust in, an easy way to access that information, and tools that enable ad-hoc analysis with minimal technical support. Is BPM the answer to all of our problems? No of course not, but it makes it much easier to deal with those problems today and puts us on the path to addressing them tomorrow.

Posted December 12, 2008 7:14 AM
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Companies evaluating business performance management (BPM) solutions in 2008 are still trying to make sense of all of 2007's mergers and acquisitions. Which vendor owns which products? Will all of these sometimes overlapping products survive? Do I need to own the transactional and/or BI products from a vendor to get the full benefits of their BPM solution? What is the timeline for integration? While BPM prospects are pondering these issues they don't need anything else to muddy the waters. Well, along comes IDS Scheer with an attempt to ride the performance management wave that can only serve to further confuse prospects.

I saw this press release today and it bothered me. They are experts in 'the other BPM', business process management. It's bad enough the acronyms are the same, but do they have to co-opt the words 'performance management' as well? The theme of their conference is 'Improve Business Performance'. There will be a discussion of how BPM = process = performance. The new version of their product will be labeled the business performance edition. They optimize business processes and workflows which certainly is of major importance to most companies. In effect, they improve the performance of these business processes. However, it is not business performance management - aligning a company around the corporate strategy and measuring and managing the execution of that strategy. I think with this marketing approach they are doing a great disservice to prospects of both BPMs and will be setting false expectations. What do you think?

Posted February 7, 2008 10:16 PM
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Since there is a lead time of several weeks from when an article is written until it is published there is always the possibility that some elements will be out of date the moment they come out. In the fast moving world of BPM it is even more likely. In our article 'Best and Worst of Performance Management in 2007' we lamented the fact that Applix and its solid mid-market offering got lost in the IBM/Cognos shuffle. Well, we are happy to report that all has now been made right with the world. What we anticipated in our article has actually come to pass - a new financial performance management offering for the mid-market: Cognos TM1 MidMarket Edition.

Posted January 28, 2008 1:39 PM
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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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We have just launched our annual BPM Pulse Survey. Although we accept no vendor sponsorship, the results of the survey are used by almost every major performance management vendor as part of their strategic planning. Thousands of BPM end users also view the results as they plan to start or expand their own BPM projects. This is your chance to anonymously share your opinions with all of them. Tell the world how good or bad your particular vendor is. Let the industry know if you'd like to see a focus on predictive analytics, service-oriented architecture, or something else. All qualified respondents (no vendors or consultants please) receive a copy of the results and a small gift. Take the survey

Posted November 3, 2006 8:04 AM
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