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BPM Pulse 2010 Results and Analysis, Part 4 BPM Technology Priorities

Originally published July 14, 2010

This month in our fourth and final article on the BPM Pulse, we will examine the technology priorities of companies pursuing business performance management (BPM) solutions. In addition, now that we know (from parts 1, 2, and 3) what people are looking for from BPM, we can analyze what they have told us they are expecting to pay for it and see if it all makes sense.

Technology Priorities

Similar to the business capabilities questions, the Pulse survey had respondents rate a list of fourteen potential technology capabilities on a 1-5 importance scale (1 = not important, 5 = very important). The top choice, with 71% rating it a 4 or a 5, was a unified front end (single user interface). This makes a good deal of sense. BPM systems are used by business users throughout the organization. For them, ease of use is a top priority. A consistent UI as you move across the many functions a BPM system addresses is key. When you are creating your budget, you should be able to use similar terminology and menu choices as when you are updating your forecast or running monthly performance reports. While there are several vendors that have built unified BPM systems from the ground up, some of the largest vendors have added functionality via acquisition. All of them understand the value of a unified system; some are further along than others though in actually achieving it.

Number two on the list is something that has been a hot topic for a while now across the spectrum of business intelligence applications: management of both structured and unstructured data. In the world of BPM, the ability to tie narrative commentary to performance numbers can very useful. In addition, projects and initiatives need to be assigned to specific key performance indicators that they are designed to positively impact. Many BPM systems on the market today do, in fact, support this capability.

The third most important technology for BPM adopters was data visualization. Again, makes a good deal of sense. If you are looking at large amounts of information and trying to spot trends, a good graphical representation can go a long way. Utilizing data visualization tools, a BPM system can get employees to focus on what matters most, which in the end is really what BPM is all about. While there are several strong standalone data visualization vendors, the BPM vendors themselves vary widely in their support of this capability. Some are still focused on pure numerical reports with limited graphics support. The fourth most important capability was only one percentage point behind number three so it is worth mentioning: tight integration with Microsoft Office. Whether the BPM solution itself is based on Microsoft technologies or not, business users will still look to utilize their familiarity with Office for ad hoc analysis and presentation.

The least popular choices are probably more surprising than the most popular. The bottom four are: XBRL support, SaaS/cloud computing, hardware appliance and open source version. That is a list that those of us in the technology field view as fairly important for the future. People looking at BPM though seem to be more pragmatic. None of those technologies, unlike the most popular set, are going to make it easier to analyze and understand their performance. It is also not obvious to the end user that those technologies are going to make their jobs any easier either. Until direct business benefits can be demonstrated, these technologies will probably remain fairly low on the list.

BPM Investment

In the 2010 BPM Pulse, we asked respondents what they have spent to date on performance management products and services. While 25% said they spent between $ 5,000 and $ 50,000, there were 24% that said they spent from $751,000 to well over $ 1,000,000. You might be thinking that one of the groups must be lying. The fact of the matter is though that today there are BPM systems to fit every size company and budget. It would make sense to assume that those on the low end are smaller companies rolling out limited functionality, typically to 10 to 25 users. The bigger spenders are probably taking advantage of more aspects of BPM and doing it company-wide. More interesting is that 38% of those about to make their first BPM investment expect it to be between $ 5,000 and $ 50,000. Unless they truly are smaller companies implementing just a portion of what BPM has to offer, they may be in for a rude awakening.

For the complete list of the fourteen technology capability choices in the survey and BPM spending plans, get your own copy of the 2010 Pulse results available now.

As this closes the final chapter on the 2010 BPM Pulse survey, our thoughts now start moving toward the 2011 survey. Are there specific topics you are interested in? Is there further drill down or clarification that you feel could be helpful for performance management buyers? Please feel free to comment on this article with your perspective or email me at cschiff@bpmpartners.com.

  • 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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