In the next 12 to 24 months, it is likely that you or someone you work with will decide that your company needs a business performance management (BPM) system. You can't read a magazine without bumping into BPM. Vendors are touting it, and companies are focused on BPM. In organizations that have launched initial BPM systems, additional departments are embracing its potential. Economic and regulatory drivers are forcing BPM on businesses. It is likely that you already have the beginnings of a BPM system in place ­– budgeting, planning, consolidation, business intelligence (BI) and analytic applications all fall under the BPM umbrella. This column's purpose will be to cut through the hype and misconceptions that surround BPM and ­– because you'll have no choice but to engage with BPM ­– help you deal with it successfully.

In a positive sense, BPM has the potential to be the next enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. BPM will be a major corporate initiative that addresses genuine business needs. However, don't let BPM become the next ERP in the wrong way: an IT tidal wave that takes longer and costs more than planned and doesn't solve all the problems it targeted, thus failing to meet key stakeholder expectations. For perspective, compare it to customer relationship management (CRM) systems. BPM shows greater promise for helping companies improve their performance and bottom-line than the much overhyped CRM. It's important for all of us that BPM solutions avoid the fate of the many unsuccessful CRM projects and deliver on a more realistic set of expectations.

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