Sizing up the BPM space

A new report evaluates the vendors vying for your business performance management investment.

When it comes to adopting business performance management (BPM) applications, organizations are taking a piecemeal approach, but they should still consider integrated suites, according to a recent report.

John Van Decker, vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group, recently completed an evaluation of BPM providers. He defined BPM as business processes that fit on top of integrated analytics, bringing together metrics, reporting and planning.

The report listed Hyperion Solutions Corp., of Sunnyvale, Calif., and PeopleSoft Inc., of Pleasanton, Calif., as leaders among the 13 BPM vendors studied. They stood out based on software performance and market presence.

"[Hyperion and PeopleSoft] met the criteria around user adoption, having the components of a BPM suite -- messaging, critical relationships with systems integrators and international coverage," Van Decker said.

Early interest in BPM has focused on planning and financial applications, driven by the need to comply with regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. While many software vendors offer applications that address parts of BPM, users are looking for full suites to deploy over time. For example, Business Objects SA, a business intelligence vendor that has some BPM capabilities, does not offer a planning solution, Van Decker said.

"Ideally, [customers] want to source more components from a single vendor," Van Decker said. "They may first target planning. Then they will bring in additional components and have a single approach over time toward metrics, reporting and planning. The vendors who have more components will eventually do better."

Vendor selection advice

The best approach when starting a BPM initiative is to evaluate integrated suites from BI vendors such as Cognos Inc., Hyperion and SAS; financial analytics vendors like Cartesis Inc. and Geac Computer Corp.; and ERP vendors like Oracle Corp., PeopleSoft and SAP AG, according to the report.

When evaluating BPM software, organizations should consider several criteria: the application's financial reporting capabilities; its support for local statutory requirements; how it integrates with ERP systems; the core architecture and a vendor's ability to integrate with other applications; the usability of the application, both in its look and feel and learning curve; and out-of-the-box support for dashboards and balanced scorecards.

As BPM evolves, Van Decker sees more applications that address operational risk. BPM may realize its greatest success in areas outside of corporate finance like supply-chain planning, forecasting and CRM, the report said.

Van Decker predicted more leaders emerging and market consolidation continuing.

"If you look at some components, there's commoditization in planning and budgeting tools," Van Decker said. "What will continue to separate the vendors is how complete their platforms are."

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