With the need for business performance management (BPM) adoption widely accepted, why do some companies still lack plans to move forward? Cost is an issue, and until a few years ago, it was a very valid one for smaller companies looking at BPM. However, to address this concern, several vendors have introduced attractively priced solutions for the midmarket and offer software as a service (SaaS) or hosted alternatives to reduce demand on IT staff and infrastructure. Other companies may lack BPM plans because they dont want to be pioneers or early adopters, so they sit on the sidelines until the technology hits the mainstream. With the large number of companies that have successfully deployed BPM, it would seem that it has, in fact, hit the mainstream. So why do some companies continue to sit on the BPM sidelines? Unfortunately, there are a couple of situations that get in the way of BPM.
The most common reason for not doing BPM is simply having other priorities. If a company is busy putting out fires, it usually doesnt have time to focus on BPM. The irony is that if it had BPM, it could have possibly avoided some of those fires in the first place. If the other priorities involve replacing the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, companies usually want to wait until that is done to look at BPM. What many dont realize is that they could - and should - do BPM parallel to their ERP deployment. By doing so, they could start enjoying the benefits of BPM long before the new ERP system is in place. Once the ERP system is ready, it is a fairly straightforward task to have the BPM system transition over for use as the source system for transactional data.
Lack of an executive sponsor is also a common challenge. The people who feel the most pain of not having a BPM system are usually not the people in a position to do something about it. If the senior executives are getting the information they want when they need it, they may not realize the Herculean effort from the staff to accomplish this. The executives also probably havent seen firsthand the error-prone process that was involved in producing their reports. The key is to educate someone from senior management on the daily challenges faced by the staff and the associated costs in time and dollars as well as the potential impact on morale and employee retention. In addition, senior management should be brought up to speed on some of the benefits of BPM that their competition is probably already enjoying, such as better and faster decision-making, more accurate forecasts and the ability to identify opportunities for profitability optimization.
The last typical group of BPM-deprived companies is also probably the most frustrating for all involved. These companies are still trying to exclusively use spreadsheets for the budgeting process. They know its wrong, risky and painful. They just cant figure out how to break out of this horrendous cycle. As budget time approaches, someone will stick his or her head up and say, No more! We have to fix this process before we are stuck going through it yet again! He or she will start to look at BPM systems to fix the budgeting problems once and for all. More often than not, though, before a new system can be selected and deployed, the budget process starts and no time or energy is available to do anything else. Another common situation is that after budgeting season ends, the teams are physically drained. Also, as time goes on, the memories of the painful process they just went through begin to fade and new priorities vie for their attention. Finding a new budgeting system doesnt become a priority until it is once again too late. The trick here is simply to make it a priority enough in advance so that you can select, deploy and test the new system long before the actual budgeting season begins. Easy to say, tough to do.
External changes may make BPM more of a necessity for some companies. Tighter government oversight of certain industries will require faster, more detailed, more transparent reporting. BPM is better suited to deliver that than difficult-to-audit spreadsheets or poorly documented homegrown systems. The eventual adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) will require significant system and process changes in many organizations. A company-wide BPM system can certainly ease the transition to IFRS.
Eventually, many of these companies will implement BPM, just years later than many of their peers. The best approach to move BPM forward in your organization is to educate senior management on what BPM can do for them. This can be accomplished by having them attend Webcasts and conferences, by reading white papers, or, best of all, by talking to their peers who have already gone down the BPM path and are now enjoying the rich array of benefits BPM delivers.
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