Best Practices in Performance Management: Consider a Broader Field of Vendors Part 1 of a Continuing Series

Originally published January 17, 2012

This series of articles is intended to help organizations of all sizes achieve the best results possible from their performance management initiatives. In each article, the goal is to provide at least one simple step that can increase the odds of a successful outcome. This month we look at the list of vendors to be considered for your performance management implementation.

The Usual Suspects

When we work with a client on a vendor selection project, we can usually guess most of the vendor names the client will suggest. Unless the client is a relatively small organization, at least one of the mega vendors in the space (IBM, Oracle, SAP) will almost always be on the list. Existing customers of other business intelligence (BI) and ERP vendors such as SAS and Infor will also look at that vendor's performance management offerings. If the client has done any research on their own, they will also usually propose two or three of the most well known performance management focused vendors (Adaptive Planning, Host Analytics, Longview, PROPHIX, Tagetik). In addition, some organizations may seek out a vertical solution that offers products customized for their industry.

We believe that while there are certainly good choices in this list, there are several additional vendors that offer somewhat unique capabilities and should be considered as well. The more vendors that are considered up front, the greater the likelihood of finding one that closely aligns with your organization's particular functionality and budget requirements. We are not suggesting that you seriously evaluate more than two or three vendors, but rather that you consider all of the viable alternatives when developing your short list.

Additional Options to Consider

There are many additional performance management vendors (we track over 100) you could look at. For this article though, we have singled out three that we think offer unique capabilities with wide appeal. All of these vendors have passionate and very experienced senior leadership. They have been in business five or more years. They also have solid products and a foundation of happy, referenceable customers. What they lack is widespread market awareness. Let's look at each vendor and what makes them unique.

Axiom EPM

There is a very good reason you probably haven't heard of this company: they've been in “stealth mode” while they focused on filling out their product set and building a solid customer base. This team, many of whom came from SRC Software by way of SAP/BusinessObjects who acquired them, have created a full suite, financially focused, unified performance management solution. Axiom EPM is certainly a solid choice for SRC customers not thrilled by their product's current path within SAP. What makes Axiom EPM somewhat unique and of interest to non-SRC customers as well is their depth of industry-specific functionality. Their financial services and healthcare focused offerings are much more than the typical vertically focused marketing fluff. This vendor is a good choice for anyone looking for a comprehensive and unified performance management solution, especially those in financial services and healthcare.

XLerant

This vendor was founded by a financial process consultant who knew firsthand the challenges budget participants faced. The company is run today by several performance management industry veterans who were formerly with Hyperion. While most vendors concentrate on budget collection and reporting, XLerant focuses on budget creation. The goal is to make budgeting simple enough so that you don't have to think twice about everyone who should be involved in the process. They accomplish this by providing a wizard-like front end that can prompt users for required inputs, enforce HR-defined rules and compensation ranges, and flag necessary exceptions for review. While XLerant is designed to be a standalone budgeting solution, due to its strong budget creation capabilities, it has also been used to front end other performance management solutions and expand the number of budget participants. This product is ideal for any organization looking to make the budgeting process easier and increase budgeting participation and accountability.

A3 Solutions

When it comes to budgeting and planning, spreadsheets aren't the problem. The real issue is the way people try to turn standalone spreadsheets into a full-blown performance management solution. What if you could leverage the power and familiarity of spreadsheets but connect them to a central and secure database with controls? If this sounds familiar, it's probably because this is pretty much what we did at OutlookSoft. Add in robust modeling capabilities, and you have a winning solution. Why haven't you heard of them? The team at A3 consists of top-notch technologists, not marketers. After 20 years in business, they just hired their first head of marketing. This solution is a good fit for organizations with many spreadsheet users and a need for powerful operational modeling.

Best Practices

This month we looked at identifying vendors to consider for a deeper dive. If you look only at the vendors you already know, you may miss out on finding the best fit for you needs.

While we've heard many people say you can't go wrong with vendor X, in fact you can. It is possible to buy more than you need and pay the price both in dollars and added complexity. It is also easy to fall short of meeting your requirements and/or paying more than you should. By considering a full range of vendors, you increase the chances of finding the one that is just right for you needs.

In future articles, we'll look at best practices in project justification and definition, technology evaluation and selection, and deployment.

SOURCE: Best Practices in Performance Management: Consider a Broader Field of Vendors

  • Craig SchiffCraig Schiff

    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!

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