BUSINESS PERFORMANCE The Management Grill – How to assess strategic tools

Call it corporate, enterprise or business performance management, organisations need an integrated, enterprise-wide approach to monitoring, measuring and managing their business performance.
Organisations focusing on performance management, leverage technology and best business practices to enable execution of strategy on an ongoing and real-time basis. The right technology helps these enterprises in four areas.
First: in integrating planning, budgeting, forecasting, consolidation, reporting, analysis and other processes into continuous loop, triggered by real events rather than by an arbitrary calendar.
Second: to support the transformation of strategies into action by linking plans to the allocation of both financial and non-financial resources.
Third: in enabling executives to communicate and drive strategy down throughout the entire organisation in way that allows people to act and make decisions that support strategic goals.
And finally: to deliver the exact information needed at the right time and in the right context so that people can focus on key issues and critical facts, rather than being overloaded with data from every aspect of the organisation.
Before making substantial investment in their organisation’s future, managers should ask vendors the following 10 key questions about the capabilities of their performance management solution.
1 Does the solution offer complete integration?
A best practice performance management system encompasses planning, budgeting, forecasting, financial consolidation, reporting and analysis, making it possible to align strategic initiatives with tactical plans and budgets. It should also be standards based to allow integration with existing systems.
2 Does it extend across the enterprise?
The ideal system provides an infrastructure allowing global teams to work together on processes without the need for IT to manually load software on each machine. Web-based performance management systems enable users to work from anywhere at any time.
3 Does the system focus the user on exceptions?
An effective solution will highlight exceptions, focusing user attention where it is most needed. Once an exception is found, the user should be able to drill down into the detail.
4 What are its automated date processing capabilities?
Look for solution that will automate the processing of ratios, currency conversions, allocations, elimination of minority interests, the consolidation of results, and more.
5 Can the solution filter and format data?
Be wary of purchasing any system that is not capable of summarising large volumes of data and presenting it in an easily understood form.
6 Can end users gain on-demand access to information?
The solution should exploit the web to allow access to both financial and non-financial information in disparate systems, at different locations, and in different formats. central portal can help make access and navigation easy and intuitive.
7 Does it support collaboration?
Look for options that support collaboration facilities such as email, instant messaging and bulletin boards.
8 Does the solution provide management insight?
Performance management systems should provide strong analytical tools such as trend analysis, sorting and charting to transform data into management insight.
9 Can it automatically monitor vital signs?
Performance management solutions should continuously search underlying data and proactively warn users of exceptions that are typically hidden and unrecognised in summarised reports. Information requiring action should be delivered directly to the user via an email message.
10 Does the vendor demonstrate proven commitment to performance management?
Be sure the selected vendor has developed its own solution (as opposed to partnering with another company), uses web protocols and mainstream database technologies, has received positive reviews from industry analysts and clients, and uses its own product.
Organisations that implement business performance management solution can ensure better decision-making and the ability to react quickly to change, increasing the likelihood of achieving strategic goals.
Managers armed with the right questions can cut through vendor noise to determine which business performance management solution will deliver superior value to their shareholders.

Sam Donley is channels manager Australia & New Zealand at Geac Computers.

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