Even after years of consolidation, there are still many viable solutions available to the business performance management (BPM) buyer. Certain software categories have become richer and deeper because of the merger and acquisition activity.As always, it is imperative to understand your business requirements first before you look at any technology solutions. Unfortunately, many companies still jump into technology selection without fully understanding and documenting their business requirements. When dealing with BPM, this can be disastrous. The IT team must make sure the finance and business unit needs are met, or the system will be underutilized. Once detailed requirements are in place, the first technology choice relates to the type of BPM vendor to be considered. Today there are four major types of vendors offering performance management software: enterprise resource planning (ERP)/transactional systems, business intelligence (BI) tools, BPM applications and BI+BPM suites. Your requirements, IT staff availability, background of project leader, existing enterprise applications, IT infrastructure and even company size will play a role in deciding which category of vendor is the best match for your company.

In our annual BPM Pulse survey, vendors that provide both BPM applications and BI tools top the list of buyers' preferences. There are several reasons for this. First, these vendors offer prepackaged applications that address the major areas of BPM, such as planning, budgeting, forecasting and financial consolidations. Many of these prepackaged applications have built-in best practices that can save time and money during deployment. In addition, they provide tools to build customized performance dashboards and to expand into areas of next-generation performance management (BPM 2.0) not yet well served by packages such as operational analytics. Also, by utilizing BPM and BI from the same vendor, companies can begin to reduce the number of vendors they rely on for performance analysis and meet the goals of their standardization initiatives. These solutions are transactionally vendor independent so they will work well with most of the leading ERP solutions available. With Hyperion folded into the transactional camp due to their recent acquisition by Oracle, the big four of BI+BPM has been reduced to three: Business Objects, Cognos and SAS. Each of these vendors has a fairly complete suite of modules and tools for performance management. For the midsized enterprise market or for departmental point solutions of larger companies, there are several additional vendors. Applix is at the forefront of BPM 2.0, offering a BI+BPM suite that always scores at or near the top of our annual BPM Pulse customer satisfaction ratings. Bitam, a relatively new entry in the U.S. market, has launched BPM applications to complement its BI foundation. Satori Group offers tools and applications, all targeted at a specific vertical: professional services. Regardless of company size, there are many options to meet your needs.

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