Business performance management (BPM) software has been around long enough now to have evolved beyond its original core functionality. Today's offerings are robust, with deep functionality, a wide breadth of capabilities, extensive compatibility and fast performance, all coupled with ease of use. Have we arrived at BPM nirvana? Not quite. What would be required of the perfect BPM solution? A number of characteristics are either still in the early stages or cannot be found together in a single solution. The ideal BPM system needs to be intuitive, all encompassing and available to companies of all shapes and sizes. Let's take a look at each area and see where we stand today.

For BPM to be adopted and used at both the smallest companies and across the farthest reaches of the largest enterprises, a number of factors needs to be in place. For one, the BPM project has to fit into a reasonable budget range. A look at the prices of the leading solutions today quickly tells you why small companies have minor BPM initiatives at best and the large companies are still not making BPM available to all employees who could add value by taking advantage of a BPM system. Because better decision-making (one of the key benefits of BPM) cannot be quantified, making the business case for a full-scale BPM solution is difficult. Change is in the air, however. As vendors continue to fill in the holes in their BPM product lines, the offerings from each vendor are converging. Although the approach of the various vendors can be different, the end applications they offer to the market have come to be very similar. If the vendors can no longer compete on unique functionality, there will be more pressure for competitive pricing. In addition, the open source movement has gained a toehold in BPM with the recent introduction of open source-based solutions from Adaptive Planning, available free of charge in the basic form.

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