planning and budgeting

Five tips for selecting CPM software for medium-sized businesses

More and more medium-sized companies are relying on CPM software to automate central processes such as planning and budgeting. But once the decision has been made to acquire such a solution, managers are often faced with the mammoth task of making the right choice. BARC analyst Dr. Christian Fuchs gives advice on how decision-makers in SMEs should proceed so that their selection project yields a suitable solution.

Each project is a little like a journey. It doesn’t matter if it’s only in the immediate neighbourhood or to the other side of the world: good preparation is crucial. Otherwise, there is a risk of delays or even the worst case scenario – when you don’t arrive at the destination at all.

Most SMEs cannot afford either of these outcomes. Their scope for action and their resources are generally much more limited than those of larger corporations.

With regard to the selection of software for corporate performance management (CPM), it is, therefore, necessary to minimize the risk of making a wrong decision. To achieve this, a well thought-out and equally well-executed selection project is paramount.

The following points are particularly important:

  1. Define achievable goals and identify the technical, business and organizational aspects of your BI strategy.
  2. Carefully determine and assess your technical and business functional requirements for a software solution. Include all key personnel in the requirements analysis (management, main users, etc.). Also pay attention to possible future requirements, which can be relevant in the medium term.
  3. Analyze the market based on your needs and create a short list of potential software solutions. Make a comparative evaluation of the vendors on the short list. Also, include users who will end up working with the software to promote acceptance of the solution.
  4. Test potential solutions in the use case(s) you need the product to serve using your data (proof of concept). The more conscientiously, objectively and comparatively you do this, the lower the risk of making a poor selection decision.
  5. When selecting and implementing your CPM solution, make sure you have a manageable time frame for the project of 3 to 6 months. Look to make some “quick wins”. The shorter the selection and implementation time, the greater the immediate benefit your project will usually deliver.
  6. Create clear responsibilities– especially for change and development processes – and ensure cooperation between lines of business and IT.

Conclusion and other recommendations

Like any journey, the selection process for CPM software can also be a non-starter. It is up to you to prevent this. In addition to these tips, you should take care to avoid common mistakes and check that the proposed solutions meet the requirements of medium-sized businesses. Using these simple tips, you can significantly increase the chances of ultimately choosing the right software for your CPM requirements. I wish you all the best!

Dr. Christian Fuchs

Dr. Christian Fuchs is BARC’s Head of Research for BI & Data Management and a senior analyst. He is the main author of BARC’s study "Software Tools for Planning" and other market analyses in the BI and planning space. As a consultant, he supports companies in the software selection process, in the introductory phase and in strategic questions about BI front end portfolios, architecture and usage scenarios.