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BPM Pulse: BPM Healthy, Vendors … OK

Originally published March 7, 2005

Every year, BPM Partners conducts its BPM Pulse Survey to understand what users and prospects are experiencing and thinking about business performance management. This year’s survey was focused on the ‘Keys to Success’ to try and understand what the most successful initiatives have in common. First of all, we found that there are many successful initiatives out there. More than one-half of the respondents believe their Business Performance Management (BPM) initiatives have met or exceeded their expectations. This is good news. Frankly, we had some concerns that with all the hype around BPM some people would have had unrealistic expectations that couldn’t possibly be fulfilled.

Some of the more surprising areas involved what components of BPM companies were focused on and the reasons they were moving forward with business performance management at all. We believe that planning/budgeting needs to be the cornerstone of a business performance management initiative. How can you tell how you performed if you don’t know what your plans/targets were? It was reassuring to see that the survey participants agreed and had planning as the business performance management component at the top of the list. The next most important component of BPM selected was a surprise—operational analytics. This is a significant shift from last year. It indicates to us a more inclusive, more robust version of BPM that is focused on a holistic view of the enterprise. It also has broad implications—involving more users outside of senior management and the finance department, tying in more source systems beyond the usual ERP systems and a need for software that goes beyond the core strengths of the major BPM application vendors. This is an area where business intelligence tools historically excel.

The next area of interest pertains to why users were moving forward with business performance management. You might expect the answer to be related to compliance, one version of the truth, better decision making, etc. In fact, the main reason people are moving forward has to do with the fact that the current systems performing the same or similar tasks have become inadequate. This means business performance management is not being used primarily to address some visionary, possibly unattainable goal, but to make a current process more efficient or less painful. There are only so many visionaries out there and we believe this focus on process improvement will lead to higher adoption rates for new business performance management systems.

Now, on to the vendors. One of the questions we asked related to how satisfied the respondent was with the vendors involved in their solution, rating them on a 1 to 5 scale with 5 being the highest. This was one of the more disappointing areas of the survey. Most vendors received mid-range ratings, with a few brand names getting particularly mediocre marks. We felt a need to validate this information and called on our senior contacts at these vendors. What we found, in almost every case, was that this result was not totally unexpected by the vendor. They were well aware of the problem areas that they believed led to this rating, and more importantly, were already working on ways to address it. This was great news to us. We could have run into a bunch of vendors in denial and solutions that would continue to fall short of user’s expectations. Instead, we now can look forward to next year’s survey with high hopes that many of these ratings will improve. There were a handful of vendors that did score well. At the top of the list were Applix, OutlookSoft, Oracle, SAP and Cognos. This doesn’t mean that they are the only ‘good’ vendors. It just means more people who responded to the survey bought their solutions for the right reasons, with the right requirements and expectations and felt they got what they paid for. Also, keep in mind that some of the other vendors with a large established user base had people rating products several versions old, so the rating may not accurately reflect their current offerings.

In summary, we are seeing significant increases in BPM adoption rates, with high levels of satisfaction with business performance management overall, and some areas that the vendors can focus on to improve their own ratings and ultimately further enhance overall BPM success and satisfaction.

To review the results for yourself, just click on BPM Pulse Survey or the white paper Beyond the Hype 2005 to receive a free copy. This is a high-level review of 16 BPM vendors. The vendor ratings are in the Beyond the Hype whitepaper because we felt viewing them on their own in the Pulse Survey would not provide enough context to enable you to fully understand the reasons behind the ratings.

  • 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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