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Six Factors to Consider When Choosing a Corporate Performance Management Software Vendor

insightsoftware -
November 22, 2021

insightsoftware is the global provider of enterprise software solutions for the Office of the CFO to connect to & make sense of data in real time, driving financial intelligence across […]

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It’s always a good idea to invest in improving your organization’s capacity to consume, digest, and analyze information quickly and efficiently. For many organizations, though, the end of the year is an especially good time to roll out new financial intelligence initiatives.

 

As budgeting season sets in and the finance team ramps up for the end-of-year closing process, many finance leaders find that it’s a natural time to start looking at corporate performance management (CPM), sometimes referred to as enterprise performance management (EPM), as one element in an overall strategy to strengthen the role of finance and accounting as a strategic driver in the organization.

What Is CPM and What Does It Do?

According to Gartner, CPM is “an umbrella term that describes the methodologies, metrics, processes and systems used to monitor and manage the business performance of an enterprise.”

Companies use CPM to measure their performance against their stated objectives, goals, and strategies. TechTarget notes that CPM is especially useful for organizations looking to reduce operational costs, improve KPI alignment, remodel budgets, upgrade financial planning processes, and improve organizational strategies.

If your team is in the process of assessing corporate performance management software vendors, here are some key factors to consider:

1. Clarify Your Objectives

First, work with your team to develop a clear picture of the future you will be creating together. What are the company’s key business priorities? Are executives in the C-suite struggling to gain greater control over costs? Are you aiming to align departmental and line-of-business priorities more closely with the organization’s strategic objectives? Is the timeliness of information a key issue with your current systems?

It’s helpful to sit down with some of the company’s key stakeholders and ask them what their top priorities are. Focus on current blind spots and information gaps, but don’t overlook the requirements that general-purpose tools and manual manipulation of data now address. The best CPM software products offer excellent opportunities to automate and streamline those processes, making them far more accurate and efficient.

2. Look for Out-of-the-Box Integration

Good corporate performance management software will integrate with your current enterprise resource planning (ERP) system without requiring custom programming. ERP integration is especially critical because of its central role in managing financial data and processing business-critical transactions. If your company includes divisions or subsidiaries that run their own distinct ERP systems, it’s especially important that your CPM software is vendor-agnostic–that it can connect easily to multiple ERP systems from different vendors.

Even if you are not currently running multiple ERP systems for independent corporate entities, vendor-agnostic CPM software can help you to futureproof your corporate performance management investments. If your company subsequently makes an acquisition or transitions to a new ERP system, you can carry forward your CPM software, saving money and time with the transition.

In addition, look for CPM software that can connect to multiple external data sources, including customer relationship management (CRM) software, specialized billing software, or even custom databases. The ability to add new data sources without extensive technical expertise ensures that your system will have the flexibility you need to gain a holistic view of the business and to expand your visibility across the enterprise as the company grows.

3. Assess the Learning Curve

Many CPM software products require extensive technical training and come with a steep learning curve. When evaluating corporate performance management software vendors, it’s important to understand the level of technical expertise required to create reports and dashboards or modify existing ones.

Two Human Heads

Many of the CPM software products on the market are technically very complex and require IT specialists to get involved anytime you require a change. This drives up the cost of ownership. For the finance team, it can also lead to frustrating delays, as it creates a dependency on an outside department. Very often, a backlog of requests in the IT department will translate into days or even weeks waiting for a new report or a simple modification to an existing one.

4. Understand the Security Constraints

CPM software collates and reports on confidential business information, so access control is important. The best vendors understand this and include robust report distribution mechanisms that incorporate various levels of access control.

It can be burdensome, though, to manage yet another catalog of user permissions for your CPM reports. The most innovative CPM software can inherit some of its permissions from your ERP software, ensuring that your sensitive information remains secure without creating additional work for a system administrator. Look for a system that offers robust, but flexible, security options.

5. Plan Your Transition Timeline

Begin with a realistic budget and timeline for your CPM rollout. A successful implementation requires that you allocate adequate organizational bandwidth to the project. The best CPM products will offer simple, highly automated implementation processes. Wizard-driven setup and deployment combined with user-friendly design can go a long way toward easing the burdens associated with a CPM rollout.

With software that is relatively easy to install and configure, your team will be free to focus on what matters most–using the software to achieve the key business objectives you identified earlier. This process includes building reports and dashboards, as well as acclimating users to the new tools available to them.

Some vendors offer catalogs of prebuilt reports and dashboards designed to work with specific ERP systems. This can be especially helpful in getting up and running quickly and demonstrating value to your organization early on in the process.

6. Evaluate Vendor Viability

Finally, consider the history and reputation of the corporate performance management software vendors on your list. You should vet companies that have only been in business for a short period of time or have a limited number of customers very carefully. As always, it’s a good idea to ask for references and customer success stories. Even better, request references and case studies that closely align with your industry and your specific requirements. If the vendor can’t produce any that are a near match, that might be a red flag indicating that you should avoid them.

At insightsoftware, we have over three decades of experience developing world-class tools for business planning and budgeting, report and analytics, and corporate performance management. Our solutions integrate with over 140 different ERP products, making insightsoftware one of the most versatile portfolios of reporting, analytics, and CPM solutions on the market. Contact us today to arrange a free, no-obligation demo.