Investing in a new software is a lot harder than many think and this is especially true when you want to invest in a Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tool that is meant to help you with financial tasks such as financial reporting, budgeting, forecasting, consolidation of financial statements, data analytics and strategic decision-making.
CPM software selection involves significant time investment in looking for a tool that fits the nature of the business and it involves monetary investment both in terms of license costs, consulting costs, and staff time costs.
The entire process of selecting a CPM solution can take somewhere between 3 months to 2 years depending on how badly the company needs to have a solution in place, the bidding/budget approval process, and resource availability.
Below are 5 essential tips for those of you wanting to invest in a CPM software.
- Know your Needs and Budget
It is not uncommon for many CPM vendors to promise the sun and the moon when they are selling their solution. True enough, quite a few of them have the ability to offer all these features. The challenge then when selecting your CPM software is to know exactly what needs to be implemented and how much you are willing to pay
It is very common for CPM deployments to creep out of their scope because the customer thinks “oh this feature is good to have”. While there is nothing wrong with that, the danger is you lose focus on the things that are truly important for the business and the deployment takes a lot longer time as well costs more because of a situation where the decision maker wants to have it all and at once.
There is nothing stopping you from upgrading and adding all these cool features later on but first, focus on the pressing need for why you searched for a CPM solution in the first place.
Lastly, CPM analytical tools/ CPM software can cost anywhere from 5 000 USD to 100 000 USD so set a realistic budget with some flexibility so you know where to start looking.
- Make this the Finance team´s business, not IT´s business
A common mistake many companies make is that when looking for a CPM software, they depend on their IT managers. The reason this is a mistake is because a CPM software is a software meant to help the finance department. This help cannot be efficient if the people themselves who need the software do not oversee the process.
If a software selection is managed by an IT person, it is to be expected that the IT manager looks at the technical side of things. They will look for what works best for them in terms of installation and maintenance, not so much what is best for the finance department as their understanding of the true needs of the finance team can never be in depth.
A good CPM software can be and should be maintained by the finance department with very minimal IT involvement upon installation. All the rest of the financial model building must be within the control of the finance department.
- Assign a Decision Maker as the Project Roll out leader
One thing many people don’t realize during deployment of a CPM software is that the deployment will force the company to make difficult or sometimes radical decisions. Decisions such as application of consistency of business rules, standardization of processes or enterprise-wide business logic application.
These types of decisions cannot be undertaken by a regular finance personnel. These decisions must come from top level management for it to be company-wide enforceable. Therefore, it is a strategic tip to involve a decision maker as a project roll out leader.
- Assess your Company’s Degree of Participation in the Deployment
It all too common that many finance managers and CFOs make an optimistic assessment of their participation during the deployment. They purchase minimal consulting hours because they are hoping some of their in-house staff can do the rest of the work.
However, our experience has proven that when it comes down to implementation time, their staff is either bogged down with things to do or they do not have the necessary skills to even participate. It is therefore a good tip that as a finance manager or CFO, you make an honest assessment of the degree of your company’s participation so that you can shorten the deployment time and negotiate a better rate for consulting services.
- Get to Know Your Consultants
Being able to choose a CPM tool that ticks all or most of your needs is only winning half the battle. The next most important battle is implementing that CPM software. Therefore, as you close the CPM software selection process, make sure you know your consultants well.
These consultants are the people who will define your experience. Whether your experience will be a good, short, and painless one or a painful, long, and dragging one depends largely on your consultants´ skills and the kind of relationship you have with them. Research about your consultants, build relations with them and make sure you can talk to them. You should have the kind of relationship where you can call them when there is an urgent need and you can tell them you are unhappy, if you are unhappy with the results.
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