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Investigate whether data are duplicated at any stage. Duplicating data means that transfers need to be set up, maintained, and run, with the chance that someone may not be seeing the latest version of the data. A good way to check what happens in the vendorâ€™s system is to enter a number as a budget holder and then ask to see that exact same number in an actual budget variance report from a controllerâ€™s point of view.
Finally, determine whether the software easily supports change. A good way to test this is to ask the vendor, without prior notice, to make a change. For example, ask the vendor to add a new organizational unit,
Implementing a Corporate Performance Management Solution
reorganize the product structure, and then check to see what effort is involved in getting those changes reflected in the user interface and associated reports. All CPM systems should be able to cope with these changes and automatically reflect them in data entry screens, reports, and analyses.
In addition to carefully scrutinizing the operational aspects of the product, the organization should carefully consider the true cost of ownership of a solution. Investigate the vendorâ€™s relationships with existing clients, understand the future product direction, assess implementation effort, and understand exactly what the vendor proposes to deliver.
When understanding the true cost of ownership, the initial software purchase is unlikely to be the largest cost incurred. Take into account implementation, user training, and software maintenance costs. Product life also could be a major issue. If the vendor discontinues the product and supplies the latest product at â€śno charge,â€ť it is likely that the existing system will have to be thrown away and reimplemented with the new product. This is very expensive in terms of time, effort, and resources.
Next talk to references. Most vendors have impressive client lists. However, organizations should research how many of those clients implemented CPM, not just a planning package or budgeting software. If the vendor has not implemented successful CPM solutions before, its experience will be gained at the CPM teamâ€™s expense. The project team should verify that the vendorâ€™s reference customers have implemented applications of the same size and complexity as the one the organization wants to implement. Find out the referencesâ€™ real cost of implementation and the kind of support they received from the vendor.
Next investigate the vendorâ€™s vision for its CPM product. All CPM applications are relatively new. While the vendorâ€™s marketing literature may reflect CPM, does the product being offered truly reflect it today? If not, will the vendor be selling an updated product six or 12 months from now? If so, what will happen to the applications of existing customers? Will the newer product be supplied free of charge? Will the newer product have the same level of functionality? Will it convert the existing data model, user interface, and all reports with no effort? Will users and support staff need to be retrained? Without definitive answers to these questions, organizations risk implementing an old product that
The Strategy Gap
may lead to failure and additional cost. In a related vein, organizations should never rely on a feature or function that will be available in the â€śnextâ€ť version. Software vendors regularly miss deadlines and release products that are not as functional as they were described in the prerelease plan.
As the evaluation continues, the CPM team should assess the implementation effort involved in a vendorâ€™s solution. Discover whether the vendor has a methodology that will guarantee a successful implementation. It is easier to perform a simple demonstration than it is to implement a robust, enterprise-wide CPM solution in an organizationâ€™s specific IT environment. There is no point in choosing the worldâ€™s best technology if it cannot be delivered as a working, viable solution.
Find out what resources will be required to deliver a working solution and how much effort will be involved. Also find out whether the vendor is prepared to guarantee the cost of implementation. Take time to plan the implementation with each vendor, and make sure you understand the efforts that will be required on both sides. See Appendix E for a sample list of activities that will need to take place.
Finally, the CPM team must understand exactly what each vendor is proposing. Is it simply selling software? How much consultancy time will it provide? If consultancy is involved, what is being guaranteedâ€”the delivery of a solution, or simply an estimate of time required? What levels of support are included in the price, and what other services are provided at extra cost?
It will be easiest to compare vendors if they are required to submit proposals in a standardized format. Appendix F presents an example of a standardized format. Only when the organization has completed all the processes and assessed all the implications thoroughly will the CPM team be able to make an informed decision. Appendix G provides a scorecard that can be used to compare software vendors side by side.