Working in any field over time, it is natural to build up a list of favorite mistakes to avoid. With access to many vendors and users of business performance management (BPM), I've seen what the missteps cost in time, money, project outcome and career impact. Do yourself a favor and take some guidance from other people's visits to the school of hard knocks.

Mistake 1: Believing vendor hype. In any relatively new field of software that is growing and competitive, you'll find plenty of participants stretching the truth to capture market share. It is difficult to separate claims from reality. For example, almost all BPM vendors claim to have a unified solution that provides one version of the truth. Our experience indicates that this is oftentimes not the reality they deliver. Although it's tempting to rely on vendor Web sites, brochures and canned demos, you need to look further. Customized demos, prototypes, detailed reference checking and advice from unbiased industry experts are ways to minimize this risk. You should also be aware that some BPM software buyer's guides are advertiser sponsored listings - they should be used as a starting list of popular vendors, but they may not be much help in separating vendor fact from fiction.

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