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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 IT and BPM Category

Those of us who work with business intelligence (BI) and business performance management (BPM) on a daily basis strongly believe that they provide great value to the companies that implement them. The challenge always is how to measure the bottom line impact of the benefits produced. How do you quantify the value of better access to information and enhanced decision-making capabilities? I don't really know the answer, but the guys at Nucleus Research make a living doing just that - calculating the return on investment (ROI) of technology projects. I found their recent case study on one of BPM Partners clients, Martin's Point Health Care, of particular interest because of the large ROI and fast payback they uncovered in this BI/BPM project. Hopefully this analysis and others like it can help convince some of the many companies putting other priorities ahead of BI/BPM to move these projects up the list.

Posted November 23, 2009 12:03 PM
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At least one vendor I am aware of is offering a no strings attached, totally free, SaaS performance dashboard. I have a problem with that. You might reasonably wonder why, after all how bad could it be if it didn't cost anything? If it doesn't work out you could just get rid of it, no harm done.Well, in fact it could do harm. Let me explain.

 A performance dashboard is a critical component of business performance management (BPM). Of course BPM itself is vital today to most companies who want to stay competitive, survive the downturn, and be ready for the recovery. So, getting company-wide support and ultimately rolling out a successful BPM initiative is very important. Free dashboards can jeopardize this goal. How? By being free. They allow anyone in the organization to bypass company approvals, buy-in, and therefore participation. Suppose a few well-intentioned souls in IT or Finance start using this application and then start showing it around. If they did a lousy job off on their own in the corner it will give people a poor impression of what a BPM dashboard could/should really be and turn them off to future BPM plans. More importantly, without senior participation it is almost 100% guaranteed that it will not be measuring what matters most to the organization. If it doesn't get that right, then what's the point? Going through an approval process/purchase decision elevates the visibility of the BPM project and gets buy-in (or not) at senior management levels, which is required to do BPM in a meaningful way. Technology itself is probably the least challenging aspect of BPM and this free offer is all about the technology.

On the other hand, if your organization has already bought in to BPM at the highest levels, is committed and ready to move forward, you should be able to get the senior team together to work on developing the right key performance indicators (KPIs). Once you've done that, you can use these free tools as a way to prototype your performance dashboard. Before making a big technology investment you can evaluate the level of participation and interest across the organization. When you are ready to really move forward you need to develop detailed technology requirements and go out and find the solution that best meets your needs, as you normally would. Although in this case the free dashboard performed a useful function along the way, it is highly unlikely that in the end it will be the ideal solution for this mission-critical application. 

Posted October 13, 2009 12:15 PM
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It's no secret that in many companies the relationship between Finance and IT can be somewhat strained. Business performance management (BPM) initiatives tend to bring those underlying tensions to the surface. For BPM to succeed Finance and IT need to work closely together as a team. In some companies there is such strong disagreement around BPM approaches, priorities, and technologies that they fail to reach consensus and the project simply stalls out. Of course if there was a good senior executive sponsor in place they could break through the logjam, but many companies fail to fill that role with the right person. A company we have been working with recently has absolutely no Finance/IT issues to deal with. The reason is that they took a proactive approach to head off problems of that type. They simply have the CIO reporting to the CFO.

The end result is that Finance and the business heads determine their needs and IT fulfills them. Since it is run out of Finance all projects have to fit within the financial goals of the company and demonstrate a reasonable return. Sounds like a wonderful world. The company by the way is not some crazy start-up where they also have Chief Happiness Officers, but a major organization with over $ 50 billion in annual revenues. Is this the future of IT? If this is such a great approach why aren't more companies doing this already? For one thing, it would be very difficult to change to this organizational model after the fact, especially with existing staff in those roles. For another, this approach has some of its own challenges. Does it stifle healthy debate? Do we lose some checks and balances? What caliber of CIO would be attracted to this position being subordinate to another department head? No approach is perfect. Maybe just the possibility of something like this coming to pass might make some CIOs take notice and work a little harder to get along with Finance.

Posted June 24, 2008 8:37 AM
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As we start the new year I'd love to be optimistic and believe that people have learned from their past mistakes. Unfortunately I keep finding examples that prove just the opposite to be true. As an example here is an IT chat room post, unedited except for the removal of the name of the guilty party:
"I am having Vendor seminar as part of the BI selection process. The participants in the seminar are Board and management level. After each vendor demo I am planning to have feedback forms with parameters to rank. Could anyone suggest parameters?"
That last line is the killer. He's asking us to suggest what they should look for in a BI vendor. Obviously they have neglected the most important first step in the process: determining their detailed requirements. Then maybe, I don't know, they could possibly rank the vendors on their ability to meet their requirements! What a waste of time for the vendors and the company's senior management. They might as well pick a vendor out of a hat.

Posted January 2, 2007 8:53 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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