How to Choose the Best CPM Vendor

We are all customers of a business. Whether you’re browsing Amazon for a home vacuum that doesn’t break down every year or picking out produce at your local grocery store, we all want the same thing. Namely, we want a product that gets the job done and satiates a need we have. Additionally, good quality, affordability, and customer service are always a plus.

That’s a generic example, but I think we can all agree that the same type of principle can be applied to products in general. Companies around the world are in search for affordable, dynamic, and simple corporate performance management (CPM) tools to fulfill their needs. To understand the needs of a customer is the first step in becoming a reputable brand. If you work at a professional services or a business solutions organization specializing in financial software and are looking into becoming a reseller, you will come across at least a handful of corporate performance management companies in the game. Finding the right fit for your company is crucial.

You will experience many benefits as a partner of a CPM company. Many CPM companies have a partner program designed to help your company grow and put you on the fast track to winning more deals. Other benefits include Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software integration and connectors, marketing materials and resources, training, a partner community, and more. Let’s start with the benefits that make it or break it.

When to Start Looking for a New CPM Solution

There are typically two or three key motivators why an organization starts looking for Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solution:

  1. The pain of manual reporting or budgeting in spreadsheet is becoming a major burden on the finance team.
  2. Management sees a strategic advantage in automated reporting, planning and analysis tools to drive better and faster decisions than competitors.
  3. The company is migrating to a cloud ERP system and also wants to update reporting and budgeting to a best-of-breed cloud solution.

Regardless, whether it is pain, strategic initiatives or cloud migration that drives the decision to find a Corporate Performance Management  solution, there are many pitfalls that can be avoided to increase the chances for success and a good return on investment (ROI). Some of these are discussed below.

Why careful CPM vendor selection is important 

1. Turbulent Mergers & Acquisition (M&A) Market Can Affect You

When a vendor gets acquired, it often ends less than ideal for customers.

A common reason that issues arise during a merger or acquisition stems from the fact that acquiring companies typically are much larger than the target company. The parent company’s politics and other internal priorities tend to drive away employees, disturb product development focus, increase prices and more.

Eventually, many acquired CPM products die a slow death, and customers end up switching products and vendors. Comshare, Adaytum, SRC Software and Clarity were but a few CPM vendors that suffered this fate during the M&A spree that took place in the CPM space 15-20 years ago.

Another wave of M&A is actively happening, and has been for the past 3 years. Companies involved in this CPM acquisition & merger wave include

Acquisitions & Mergers can mean your company falls victim to increased prices, turbulent support, and more. It’s important to make sure, when choosing a CPM Software vendor, to look for a vendor that is


2. You Need to Protect Your Financial Investment

CPM solutions these days are increasingly cloud-based. Rather than purchase the software outright, CPM customers can subscribe to use the software on an annual basis.

However, even if a subscription is reasonable, the amount of time and effort that internal staff has to put in to get a CPM solution fully up and running to include the reports and budget model and dashboards that the management team needs, can be very significant.

You can expect anywhere from $20,000 – a several-hundred thousand dollars in direct and indirect costs for full-blown implementations.

In other words, picking the right vendor and the right product carries a much larger costs than simply a year’s worth of subscription.

3. Protecting your job 

While a good vendor selection, and successful implementation, can be a significant boon to the careers of the management team in charge of the project, it can be the opposite if it all does not work out well.

Let alone the stress and long hours that often come from enterprise software implementations,  should it not end well, it can be a scar that follows you for a long time in your career.

Benefits of working with CPM Company

Data Integration & Connectors

If you know your audience, it is vital to meet their needs. As mentioned above, understanding your customer is the first step in becoming successful. For instance, if most of your customers are trying to find integration to a specific ERP such as Microsoft Dynamics or Sage Intacct, you shouldn’t be searching for a CPM organization that doesn’t connect to any of those ERPs unless there are a big market and opportunity. Finding a CPM software company that has a great relationship with the ERP companies they carry will open doors for you and your business.

Marketing

Content is incredibly valuable to most organizations. According to Demand Metric, 90% of all organizations use content in their marketing efforts.  Meanwhile, according to Curata, approximately 78 % of buyers rely on white papers to make a purchasing decision. Therefore, content has become a crucial part to the purchasing process. What better way to get relevant and timely marketing support than from your CPM partner? The CPM software company you choose should have an array of marketing materials. See below for a list of marketing materials you should be able to provide to your customer that you can get from a partner.

  1. Social Media Content
  2. Videos focusing on marketing, demos, and webinars.
  3. Blog Articles
  4. White Papers
  5. Case Studies/Testimonials
  6. Visuals like logos and infographics
  7. Brochures
  8. Press Releases
  9. Product Data Sheets
  10. Newsletters

Services

In my opinion, good customer service is probably the most important thing about a business. You may have great content, but none of that truly matters unless you offer people your best service. Imagine a time you encountered good customer service. Didn’t it feel great? Partner with a business that offers just that: good customer service. You can typically find how well a company does in that arena from customer and partner reviews on review sites such as G2, Capterra, and Software Advice, to name a few.  Many CPM software companies offer different types of tailored services.  Companies with consulting, training, and support services will help with everything from implementation to training customers and partners to be product experts.

Community

Many entrepreneurs love the concept of being “self-made.” When you take a look back, you’ll notice that the most influential and successful people didn’t get there alone.  Rather, they were part of a community of mentors and peers. Make sure the company you end up choosing to partner with has a partner channel and community. Ask the CPM organization if they hold any partner events for networking and learning. This will be incredibly beneficial to your business and your customers.

Key CPM vendor selection factors

While some organizations have too rigid software selection processes when they evaluate new CPM solutions, others suffer from the opposite problem.

Here are Some Simple Tips for When You’re Looking for a CPM Vendor:

  • Avoid RFPs: Unless RFPs are simple and they focus on the important factors determined by the business users, they tend to be playing favorites based on who wrote the RFP.
    RFPs are often template-based, with far too many questions that drown the important items within the much less important topics. And let’s be honest, few team members end up reading all the RFP replies. Vendors tend to interpret questions their own way in order to provide a maximum number of positive replies.
  • Know what you want: Communicate key objectives and critical needs to vendors and demand that these be covered in software demonstrations.
  • Look for pre-built ERP integrations: Make sure the CPM automation vendors you look at have a pre-built integration to your ERP system. Ideally they provide connectivity both to the general ledger tables and sub-ledger tables so you can report, drill down and budget to as much detail as your business users desires.
  • Look for Support for “best-of-breed” Dashboard tools: In the past, most CPM vendors developed their own, often very limited dashboard modules. The result has been that many organizations therefore also purchased best-of-breed dashboard tools in order to serve other users and other data sources in the company. However, with the rise of advanced visualization solutions like Microsoft’s Power BI and Tableau (acquired by Salesforce in 2019), the new trend is that CPM automation solutions focus on their core reporting, consolidations and planning capabilities and instead deliver their data out to best-of-breed dashboard solutions through pre-built integrations.
  • Make Sure The CPM is Cloud-Ready: While many companies still run a number of their critical business systems on-premise, the cloud trend is crystal clear. CPM solutions are generally easier to manage in the cloud, with automated reporting tools upgrades, frequent releases, and user-friendly interfaces. Some, such as Solver CPM, can even query certain on-premise ERP systems live from the cloud, providing accountants with real time insights and drill down directly into their ERP. Make sure the CPM solution you look at was architected for the cloud and that it is to an “old”, single tenant on-premise architecture that the vendor is hosting somewhere in the cloud.
  • Look for Vendor Stability: As discussed, there has been a tremendous amount of acquisitions in the CPM industry over the past couple of years. Most of the CPM vendors that have not been acquired by a larger vendor, have heavy Private Equity (PE) investments. Examples are Vena, Board and Centage. Notable exceptions to this are Prophix and Solver. PE firms generally want their money back within 4-5 years of making their investment so they can provide real returns to their own investors, and that often means that customers will find their vendor shifting owner again, often with resulting price increases and shifting development focus.

Contact Solver for Advanced CPM Solutions

Whether it is too much spreadsheet reporting and budgeting pain or a tactical hint for competitive advantages with faster and better decision-making that drives your search for a Corporate Performance Management solution, a final piece of advice is to be strategic about it. Don’t look at a CPM automation solutions as a temporary band-aid, but view this technology for what it can be when properly chosen and implemented with care; one of your most important decision-making tools that can help drive growth and success for your organization in the 2020s.