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Finance typically owns CPM deployments, but IT's role in preparing data is crucial.

Making CPM part of the overall corporate strategy can be tricky. Few organizations have a team dedicated to monitoring and managing global performance full time à la CCI; most CPM initiatives are still driven by the finance department, and often begin as tactical efforts to streamline labor-intensive, outmoded finance processes.

Yet backing out from tactics to strategy is rife with difficulty, not least because it forces finance to think more broadly across the organization, about which nonfinancial metrics are important, about who truly contributes to strategic objectives and what tools they need to monitor their own progress, and so forth. That's the juncture many organizations are at today.

Meanwhile, finance typically still makes the key decisions regarding CPM approaches and applications, funds CPM initiatives and selects vendors. And the fact that most CPM initiatives are linked to annual budgeting processes doesn't help. But users throughout the organization must derive their own value from CPM efforts—beyond simply the ability to comply with information requests from finance. This becomes especially true as individual contributions to corporate performance are linked to compensation.

And though finance typically drives CPM efforts, IT's role is just as critical, if not more. Visibility into corporate performance across a broad user base, and consistency of the information they are viewing, are critical for CPM success. IT's primary role is to ensure both by providing access to a reliable business intelligence infrastructure, including the data repository and business analytics, used in all CPM-related activities.

The earlier IT gets involved, the better. At a practical level, IT's role entails no small measure of policing: preventing individual business units from installing renegade planning systems, just for the slick reporting tools, for instance. That means establishing policies and procedures and asking the tough questions like: Why do you need a proprietary database? Where are you sourcing your data? How much will it cost to integrate?

Maintaining the integrity of the data also requires vigilance. As Terry Williamson, vice president of IT at CCI explains, "My role and the role of my group is to act as the gatekeepers, or the custodians, of the information. That takes discipline, organization and a lot of procedures." Demanding clear and consistent definitions, maintaining a single, central repository that can be used by all applications, and making sure all the components that go into derived (or calculated) figures are included in that repository, are just three examples of the kind of discipline that's required.

Gartner Research Director Brian Wood adds: "You want to get to that single source of truth so you don't have ten definitions of the same thing. When you create a planning application for finance, for example, it should define profitability in exactly the same way as in operational systems."

Ask your database managers:
  • Do we have corporatewide policies regarding data integrity?

    Ask your business managers:
  • Do your budgeting and planning activities help or hinder your efforts to understand business performance?

  • This article was originally published on 02-05-2005
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