This is BPM Partners' second annual look at the core business performance management (BPM) vendors for DM Review. The landscape we evaluated this year includes more than 100 vendors. You will note many familiar names as leaders in the category; we have examined each of these vendors from both a customer satisfaction perspective as well as how their offerings have evolved. To be considered for our core list, a vendor must have a: 1) primary focus on performance management (this is one reason enterprise resource planning vendors are not included on the core list); 2) robust, comprehensive BPM offering; 3) field validation of current product set. While the vendors on this list are certainly not the only ones to be considered for a BPM initiative, it is a good place to start your search for a complete and reliable solution.
The Top Nine
A top ten list would have been nice to have, but this year we only found nine vendors that fit the bill. We have listed them in alphabetical order.
Applix: They use their TM1 OLAP engine to provide budgeting, planning, consolidation, reporting and analysis applications on one platform that companies can extend with additional financial and operational applications. Applix enhanced its reporting capabilities with the addition of Applix Executive Viewer, a self-service reporting and analysis solution that enables the creation and publication of graphical reporting dashboards, standardized reports and ad hoc analysis. Applix's strong distribution channel continues to grow after recent partnership announcements with the sales performance management player Varicent and with Sybase for its risk analytics platform. Applix received high marks once again in our BPM Pulse vendor satisfaction ratings. Customers gave their highest ratings to product performance (speed) and quality.
Business Objects: They have completed the integration of the BPM solutions acquired from SRC Software in 2005 and now offer a comprehensive BPM suite, including planning, budgeting and financial consolidation solutions with robust business intelligence (BI), reporting and analysis tools. The company continues to expand its vertical market solutions to include applications for insurance and financial services, health care and retail/consumer packaged goods. They recently expanded profitability management, activity-based costing and predictive driver-based planning capabilities with the acquisition of ALG Software and its enterprise performance management suite of profitability management and activity-based costing solutions. Customers are most impressed with their products' ease of use.
Cartesis: This vendor offers a truly unified BPM solution with a single user interface for planning, consolidation, reporting, benchmarking and analysis tools that leverage the Cartesis Integrated Data Model. Cartesis has integrated the planning and interactive reporting and analysis solutions acquired from INEA Corp. and Advance Info Systems. It offers robust dashboard performance reporting and analysis capabilities through its partnership with Panorama Software to complement its comprehensive planning, financial consolidation and reporting solution. The company continues to expand its North American team to focus on growth within targeted mid- and large-market organizations. It remains a strong fit for multinational organizations seeking integrated planning, consolidation and reporting with a familiar Microsoft interface. Customers appreciate the products' ease of use and quality.
Clarity Systems: They use an open architecture that supports multiple relational and multidimensional back-end databases to provide Web-based budgeting, consolidation and reporting applications with a Microsoft Excel-like user interface. Their starter kits provide prebuilt data models and reports that can expedite application configuration and deployment for common applications within the banking and financial services, retail and manufacturing sectors. Clarity Systems established a resale partnership with Thomson Elite to sell and support BPM applications designed for the legal professional services market and is developing additional domain-specific vertical solutions. Based on Clarity's consulting company roots, we are not surprised that customers praise their client support.
Cognos: Their BPM system integrates sophisticated planning, budgeting and consolidation applications with a single BI solution for robust reporting and analysis functions. To extend best practices across the enterprise, Cognos offers both analytic applications such as the Workforce Performance application, which is built upon an adaptive application framework, as well as Cognos Performance Blueprints, which leverage the solution capabilities of Cognos planning, consolidation, reporting and BI. Industry-specific blueprints exist for the financial services, life sciences, manufacturing, public sector and retail industries. Cognos continues to enhance user access to the Cognos 8 solutions through refreshable connections to the Microsoft Office suite and through the addition of search capabilities and mobile device report access. Cognos' recent acquisition of Celequest will provide another implementation alternative for clients interested in BI capabilities on an integrated hardware appliance. Clients of Cognos give high marks to the depth of product functionality and ease of use.
Hyperion: They are among the leading vendors enabling the convergence of BPM and BI into a single, unified solution capable of providing robust planning, financial consolidation and strategic scorecard/dashboard reporting along with comprehensive BI reporting and analysis tools. Hyperion continued to expand its System 9 offering with the acquisition of Upstream Software and the subsequent release of the Financial Data Quality Management solution, which provides comprehensive data collection, transformation, validation and loading of financial data to Hyperion's analytic applications. The company also announced the introduction of search capabilities using Google's OneBox for Enterprise search appliance, which will allow users to construct and access queries of information within the System 9 suite. Their recent acquisition of Decisioneering and its Crystal Ball software will add predictive analytics to the mix. Hyperion customers give their highest ratings to depth of product functionality and ease of use.
Longview: This vendor offers a fully integrated CPM solution that includes comprehensive planning, budgeting, consolidation and reporting components. Their unique strategic tax solution facilitates tax data collection, planning and compliance reporting. Longview recently acquired RunServiceNet's DecisionX service-oriented architecture (SOA) development platform to enable integration of the Khalix CPM solution with other enterprise applications. This is one of the few truly unified solutions that compete effectively with the larger players in the CPM market. Their customers give high marks to customer support and, somewhat uniquely in the BPM space, price/value.
OutlookSoft: OutlookSoft offers a unified, Web-based BPM product, including consolidation, planning, budgeting, forecasting, predictive analytics, reporting, dashboards and scorecarding capabilities through a consistent Microsoft Excel and browser-based interface. The current release of OutlookSoft 5 supports the Microsoft Business Intelligence platform architecture as well as the Microsoft and Oracle database platforms, and it provides workflow and process management functionality. It is built upon an SOA. OutlookSoft customers cite product functionality and ease of use as two areas of highest satisfaction.
SAS: The comprehensive and integrated SAS for Performance Management solution includes planning, budgeting, consolidation and reporting functions that leverage the SAS BI platform. SAS offers cross-industry analytic applications for human capital management and activity-based management in addition to numerous industry-specific vertical tools. The SAS for Performance Management solution requires integration with the SAS BI platform, so this solution will be most attractive to companies looking to implement solutions containing both BI and BPM components. SAS clients give their highest ratings to product functionality and product quality.
There are of course other vendors worthy of your consideration. Some to look at include: Adaptive Planning targets the midmarket and offers hosted, on-site and open source versions; Centage offers single-user and small workgroup versions for the growing company; ISIS Solutions enables you to add predictive capabilities to your existing systems; Bitam offers combined BI and BPM solutions to the midmarket; KCI offers a 64-bit unified solution designed to handle complexity; Satori Group provides vertically deep solutions for professional services organizations; and Varicent addresses the growing need for sales performance management solutions.
The number and type of available BPM solutions keep growing, even with the major consolidations that continue to take place. The key, as always, is to find the one solution that best meets your needs from both a price and functionality perspective. The only way to do that is to develop detailed requirements and evaluate several vendors against them. If you have existing one-off solutions from some of these vendors, they certainly should be on your list to evaluate, but they shouldn't be the only vendor you look at for BPM.
If you don't invest the time up front to find the best solution, you may never be able to achieve the full potential benefits of BPM.
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