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Example of a Sales Manager Dashboard for a Distribution Company

What is a Sales Manager Dashboard ?

Sales manager dashboards are considered revenue analysis tools and are used by sales executives to monitor sales performance metrics. Some of the main functionality in this type of dashboard is that it provides six visualizations for KPI analysis: 1) Sales by sales manager, 2) Gross margin by product, 3) Actual versus budgeted product sales, 4) Monthly revenue trend, 5) Accounts receivable (AR) by customer, and 6) Top 5 customer sales. You find an example of this type of dashboard below.

Purpose of Sales Manager Dashboards

Distribution businesses use Sales Manager Dashboards to give sales executives an easy, self-service monitoring tool. When used as part of good business practices in an sales department, a company can improve its decision-making and grow related revenues, and it can reduce the chances that managers are missing the big picture when it comes to sales performance.

Sales Manager Dashboard Example

Here is an example of a Sales Manager Dashboard for a distribution business.

Example of a Sales Manager Dashboard for a Distribution Company

Example of a Sales Manager Dashboard for a Distribution Company

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Dashboard?

The typical users of this type of dashboard are: Chief Revenue Officers and sales managers.

Other Dashboards Often Used in Conjunction with Sales Manager Dashboards

Progressive sales department sometimes use several different Sales Manager Dashboards, along with  customer sales dashboards, sales transaction reports, accounts receivables (AR) reports, profit & loss reports, inventory dashboards and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data for competitors typically comes from management systems or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of a Product Sales Dashboard for a Distribution Company

What is a Product Sales Dashboard for a Distribution Company?

Product sales dashboards are considered sales analysis and monitoring tools and are used by sales and product managers to keep track of product performance metrics. Some of the main functionality in this type of dashboard is that it provides graphical analysis of product-focused sales metrics. These include: Sales by product, gross margin by product, sales versus gross margin by product, monthly revenue trend, monthly gross margin trend, and top 5 customer sales. You find an example of this type of dashboard below.

Purpose of Product Sales Dashboards

Distribution businesses use Product Sales Dashboards to provide managers with a self-service, web-based tool to monitor sales and margins for products. When used as part of good business practices in an sales department, a company can improve its product strategies and it can reduce the chances that decisions are slow or never happen due to lack of sales metric visibility.

Product Sales Dashboard Example

Here is an example of a Product Sales Dashboard for a distribution business.

Example of a Product Sales Dashboard for a Distribution Company

Example of a Product Sales Dashboard for a Distribution Company

 

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Dashboard?

The typical users of this type of dashboard are: Sales managers, product managers, executives.

Other Dashboards Often Used in Conjunction with Product Sales Dashboards

Progressive sales department sometimes use several different Product Sales Dashboards, along with general customer sales dashboards, sales transaction reports, profit & loss reports, inventory dashboards and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data for competitors typically comes from management systems or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of an Executive Dashboard for a Distribution Company

What is an Executive Dashboard for a Distribution Company?

Executive dashboards are considered important analysis tools and are used by upper management to review overall performance as it relates to sales and inventory key performance indicators (KPIs). Some of the main functionality in this type of dashboard is that it combines four KPI charts with a report section. The charts covers: 1) Inventory turnover by distribution center, 2) Inventory turnover trend by month, 3) Top 10 customers based on sales, and 4) Top 10 best-selling products. The report section at the bottom of the charts contains the related metrics in a table format. You find an example of this type of dashboard below.

Purpose of Executive Dashboards for Distributors

Distribution businesses use Executive Dashboards to provide self-service analysis that enables quick and easy monitoring of sales and inventory metrics. When used as part of good business practices in an executive department, a company can improve the speed and agility of decisions and it can reduce the chances that executives lack important insight between formal corporate meetings.

Executive Dashboards Example

Here is an example of an Executive Dashboard with sales and inventory KPIs.

Example of an Executive Dashboard for a Distribution Company

Example of an Executive Dashboard for a Distribution Company

 

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Dashboard?

The typical users of this type of dashboard are: CEOs, COOs, CFOs.

Other Dashboards Often Used in Conjunction with Executive Dashboards for Distributors

Progressive executive department sometimes use several different Executive Dashboards, along with general sales dashboards, inventory reports, profit & loss reports, cash flow statements, balance sheets and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data for competitors typically comes from management systems or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of an Automated Forecast for New Retail Store Opening

What is a Forecast for New Retail Store Opening?

New retail store forecasts and budgets are considered essential planning tools in retail corporations and are used by financial managers and analysts to forecast revenues and expenses for a planned store opening. Some of the main functionality in this type of forecast model is that it allows the user to select data from a similar existing store that automatically will be pulled into the model. The user also selects the start (store opening) month, which will zero out prior months that year. At this point the forecast can be saved and it is done, or you can adjust any of the figures and then save.. An example of this type of forecast model can be found below.

Purpose of Automated Forecasts for New Store Openings

Retail businesses use Automated Forecast Models to provide a very quick and easy way to create a forecast for a new store location based on actual or budget data from a similar size, existing store. It also makes it easy to perform what-if analysis and simulations related to potential store openings. When used as part of good business practices in Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) department, a company can improve its decisions, timing and success with business expansions as well as reduce the chances that poor financial planning results in bigger, operational issues.

Automated Forecasts for New Store Opening – Example

Here is an example of an Automated Financial Forecast Model for a new store based on data from an existing store location.

Example of an Automated Forecast for New Retail Store Opening

Example of an Automated Forecast for New Retail Store Opening

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Forecast model?

The typical users of this type of forecast model are: Store planners, CFOs and analysts.

Other Forecast models Often Used in Conjunction with Automated Forecasts for New Store Openings

Progressive Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) departments sometimes use several different Automated Profit & Loss forecasts, along with general sales forecasts and budgets, sales dashboards, KPI dashboards, consolidation reports, balance sheets and cash flow statements and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data for competitors typically comes from management systems or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of a Sales Trend by Product Class Report for a Retail Company

What is a Sales Trend by Product Class Report?

Sales trend reports are considered critical management tools and are used by sales and product category managers to better understand year-over-year variances and monthly trends. Some of the main functionality in this type of dashboard report is that it combines detailed monthly metrics with powerful analytical charts. The top section of the report shows two years of monthly sales in addition to variances in amounts and percent. The traffic lights helps focus the user’s attention to significant variances. The rows display products by category. The bottom portion of the report provides trend and variance charts. You find an example of this type of dashboard report below.

Purpose of Sales Trend by Product Class Reports

Retail businesses use Sales by Product Class reports to give managers a multi-year overview of sales for each of its product categories. When used as part of good business practices in retail operations, a company can improve its product decisions related to sales performance as well as reduce the chances that important product sales trends go undetected.

Sales Trend by Product Class Report Example

Here is an example of a Sales Trend by Product Class report with detailed monthly figures for current and prior year as well as a section for graphical analysis.

Example of a Sales Trend by Product Class Report for a Retail Company

Example of a Sales Trend by Product Class Report for a Retail Company

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Dashboard report?

The typical users of this type of dashboard report are: Executives, store and regional managers, category managers.

Other Dashboard and Reports Often Used in Conjunction with Sales by Product Class Reports

Progressive retail operations departments sometimes use several different Sales by Product Class Reports, along with general sales forecasts and budgets, sales dashboards, KPI dashboards and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data for competitors typically comes from management systems or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of a Sales Report by Product and Store for a Retail Company

What is a Sales Report by Product and Store?

Product and store sales reports are considered essential operational analysis tools and are used by sales and product category managers to compare performance by store and region. Some of the main functionality in this type of dashboard report is that it combines variance analysis with store benchmarking. The columns display major product categories and within each of these the user finds current month, same period last year and variances. The rows dynamically list the chosen regions and the store locations within each region. You find an example of this type of dashboard report below.

Purpose of Product and Store Sales Reports

Retail businesses use Product and Store Sales Reports to benchmark sales performance across stores and regions. When used as part of good business practices in retail operations, a company can improve its store and territory decisions as well as reduce the chances that to underperformers go undetected for longer periods of time.

Product and Store Sales Report Example

Here is an example of a Sales Report comparing stores and product categories.

Example of a Sales Report by Product and Store for a Retail Company

Example of a Sales Report by Product and Store for a Retail Company

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Dashboard report?

The typical users of this type of dashboard report are: Executives, store and regional managers, category managers.

Other Dashboard reports Often Used in Conjunction with Product and Store Sales Reports

Progressive retail operations departments sometimes use several different Product and Store Sales Reports, along with general sales forecasts and budgets, sales dashboards, KPI dashboards, consolidation reports and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data for competitors typically comes from management systems or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of a Product Dashboard for a Retail Company

What is a Product Dashboard for a Retail Company?

Product dashboards are considered operational reports and are used by product managers and store managers to analyze trends and budget variances. Some of the main functionality in this type of dashboard is that it has seven different KPI charts. These include: Sales and gross margin by product class, monthly sales and gross margin trend, top and bottom products, and product inventory. You find an example of this type of dashboard below.

Purpose of Product Dashboards

Retail businesses use Product Dashboards to provide managers with an easy, self-service solution to monitor product performance. When used as part of good business practices in retail operations, a company can improve its inventory, marketing and sales decisions as well as reduce the chances that to product performance goes under the radar for managers.

Product Dashboard Example

Here is an example of a Product Dashboard with budget variances and trend analysis.

Example of a Product Dashboard for a Retail Company

Example of a Product Dashboard for a Retail Company

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Dashboard?

The typical users of this type of dashboard are: Product managers, store and regional managers.

Other Dashboards Often Used in Conjunction with Product Dashboards

Progressive retail operations departments sometimes use several different Product Dashboards, along with general sales forecasts and budgets, sales dashboards, inventory reports, profit & loss reports and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data for competitors typically comes from management systems or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of a Store Performance Dashboard for a Retail Company

What is a Store Performance Dashboard for a Retail Company?

Store performance reports are considered operational dashboards and are used by corporate offices and regional managers to analyze store sales and to benchmark performance. Some of the main functionality in this type of dashboard is that it it compares actual and budget revenues and profit across stores. It also shows the monthly trend for these two metrics. The two pie charts displays the top 5 and bottom 5 store locations. The dashboard also shows square foot per store and revenue per square foot per store. You find an example of this type of dashboard below.

Purpose of Store Performance Dashboards

Retailers use Store Performance Dashboards to make it easy for managers to analyze and benchmark KPIs across a chosen group of store locations. When used as part of good business practices in a retail operations department, a company can improve its decision-making related to store management, products and other performance variables as well as reduce the chances that executives don’t have good visibility to the large variations in store performance as soon as numbers are available.

Store Performance Dashboard Example

Here is an example of a Store Performance Dashboard with budget variance analysis and benchmarking.

Example of a Store Performance Dashboard for a Retail Company

Example of a Store Performance Dashboard for a Retail Company

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Dashboard?

The typical users of this type of dashboard are: Retail executives, CFOs, regional managers, store managers.

Other Dashboards Often Used in Conjunction with Store Performance Dashboards

Progressive retail operations departments sometimes use several different Store Performance Dashboards, along with general sales forecasts and budgets, sales dashboards, profit & loss reports and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data for competitors typically comes from management systems or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

Example of an Executive Dashboard for a Retail Company

What is an Executive Dashboard for a Retail Company?

Executive dashboards are considered essential management tools and are used by senior managers to analyze and monitor the key performance drivers of the company. Some of the main functionality in this type of dashboard is that it can be viewed for any period and retail entity. It contains eight charts that provides analysis of revenue, profit and headcount. These include Revenue by region, by month, by full time employee equivalent (FTE), as well as for the top products and top stores. Other charts display profit by region and monthly profit trend. You find an example of this type of dashboard below.

Purpose of Executive Dashboards for Retailers

Retailers use Executive Dashboards to make it easy for top management to analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) for the retail business. When used as part of good business practices in a Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) and Executive Department, a company can improve its speed and agility of decision-making as well as reduce the chances that executives operate in the dark because of lack of real-time, self-service analysis.

Executive Dashboards for a Retailer – Example

Here is an example of a Dashboard for Retail Executives with comparative and trend analysis.

Example of an Executive Dashboard for a Retail Company

Example of an Executive Dashboard for a Retail Company

You can find hundreds of additional examples here

Who Uses This Type of Dashboard?

The typical users of this type of dashboard are: Retail executives, board members, regional managers.

Other Dashboards Often Used in Conjunction with Executive Dashboards for Retailers

Progressive Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) and Executive departments sometimes use several different Executive Dashboards for Retailers, along with general sales forecasts and budgets, balance sheets, cash flow statements and other management and control tools.

Where Does the Data for Analysis Originate From?

The Actual (historical transactions) data for competitors typically comes from management systems or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like: Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (D365 BC), Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL, Sage Intacct, Sage 100, Sage 300, Sage 500, Sage X3, SAP Business One, SAP ByDesign, Acumatica, Netsuite and others.

In analyses where budgets or forecasts are used, the planning data most often originates from in-house Excel spreadsheet models or from professional corporate performance management (CPM/EPM) solutions.

What Tools are Typically used for Reporting, Planning and Dashboards?

Examples of business software used with the data and ERPs mentioned above are:

  • Native ERP report writers and query tools
  • Spreadsheets (for example Microsoft Excel)
  • Corporate Performance Management (CPM) tools (for example Solver)
  • Dashboards (for example Microsoft Power BI and Tableau)

Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Cloud Solutions and More Examples

This article is part 8 of an 8-part series on evaluating the best CPM tools for your business. Part 8 focuses on why and when to use third-party rankings from analysts when evaluating the best CPM software applications.

 

While some companies don’t need to go through a detailed selection process to come up with a list of the top Corporate Performance Management (CPM) software solutions for their organization, others have their work cut out for them. If you belong to the latter category, here is a vendor evaluation tool that may be of help.

One of the key items on many CPM product evaluation checklists is to look at how third-party firms, usually referred to as analysts or analyst websites, review and rank vendors.

Below, we will discuss the use of analysts to help evaluate and score the best financial reporting and planning solutions for your business requirements. This type of third-party research can complement the findings and opinions from your internal team.

When analyst firms are of less importance

Before we go into detail about analyst firms, let’s briefly cover some situations where analyst reports with CPM vendor rankings are not as useful and, in some cases, cost extra time and money in the selection process. One such example is when there is already a leading CPM solution partnered with your ERP vendor and offering pre-built integrations and other benefits that outweigh other potential vendor differences.

Another example is when multiple people on your staff have deep knowledge of a leading CPM solution that they have used before, ideally while they worked at a company from the same industry to ensure that there is still a fit.

Which analyst firms should you use?

While there are a few firms with analysts that are CPM industry experts who do months of research every year to analyze trends and rank vendors, there are many more analysts that are a waste of time or are even directly misleading in their rankings.

  1. Examples of professional CPM analyst firms
    • Analyst and survey-driven rankings: Gartner and Dresner Advisory Services
    • User-driven rankings: G2
  2. Unqualified or misleading “analyst” firms
    • Clickbait websites that will come up with their own vendor lists with no proper research, purely to get ranked on a search engine in order to sell advertising or get “sponsorship” money vendors pay to be on (e.g., a “Top 10 CPM Vendors” list)
    • Websites owned by CPM vendors ranking themselves
    • “Research reports” from “analysts” paid for by a specific CPM vendor

So, if you consult analyst reports to help find the best CPM tool for your company, be conscious of who or what is proving the advice.

How do you know if analyst reports are biased or fair representations of vendors?

It is clear that almost all research performed by a human being is biased one way or another, either consciously (e.g., based on vendor sponsorships or who they speak with the most) or unconsciously (e.g., based on the knowledge of the analyst). Even a firm as well-known as Gartner arguably has some bias in their reports because they include analyst comments, and they include vendor revenue as one of the drivers in their “Magic Quadrants” – something which may or may not indicate who a “leader” should be in a specific industry. Especially with the pace of technology changes and acquisitions in the marketplace, the best CPM solution for your business 6 months ago may no longer be the top choice today.

Other analyst reports or vendor rankings are websites that are driven by user feedback as compared to analyst research. You could argue that these websites provide the most neutral feedback although not as detailed and analytical as the major reports produced by full-fledged analyst firms.

Then there are the countless firms that provide “awards” and rankings based on payments from vendors. These are highly biased and should be avoided. It is fairly easy to detect them by reviewing the firm’s website and observing the lack of depth in CPM research and content.

What professional analysts get right (and sometimes don’t)

The top CPM analyst firms typically do one major CPM report per year. All or parts of the data in the report is driven by customer surveys completed by each vendor’s customers. Because of all the work that goes into these reports and because customers don’t want to be constantly bombarded with surveys, the reports will represent data that is up to 15-16 months old. This lag is because customer surveys typically start 3-4 months before the report is released and then the report will be out on the market for a year until next year’s report is out.

Because many cloud software vendors have monthly releases, and new features arrive all the time, these reports could be missing important vendor features. Websites like G2 and others are starting to follow the same model; they are constantly updated whenever a customer decides to leave their feedback. However, they are less detailed and structured.

Examples of analyst firms that review CPM software

There are a number of companies that provide CPM vendor reviews and market research. Here are examples of three different categories of such firms:

  1. Gartner: Analyst + customer survey-driven vendor rankings. Also provides research reports across almost all categories of IT firms. A major CPM report is produced once per year.
  2. Dresner Advisory Services: Customer survey-driven vendor rankings. Also provides research reports. Almost exclusively focused on CPM (they refer to it as EPM, or Enterprise Performance Management). A major CPM report is produced once per year.
  3. G2: Customer feedback driven. Ranking reports are produced automatically on their website (g2.com). Rankings are continually updated as customers enter their feedback on the G2 website.

How much does it cost to use an analyst firm?

Some CPM vendor research reports are free while many are licensed by the CPM vendors themselves and shared with customers. However, be aware that vendors naturally will only license and share research reports that shed a good light on their product, so there is a bias here to be cognizant of.

Some analyst firms also provide selection services, either as paid calls with their CPM advisors or as full-blown gigs where they will lead or participate in the entire selection process as a “consultant.” In past years, they used to then provide clients with RFP templates with hundreds of pre-defined questions. These have become less popular in recent times as both vendors and internal evaluation teams dread lengthy narratives always shaped to sound good, or they can miss entire functionality areas that are up and coming.

In any case, it is almost always beneficial to do your own homework first by listing your current pain points in as much detail as possible and quantifying ($$) the cost and effort of running the current reporting and planning processes. This “homework” should also include the management team’s vision of the business benefits they want to achieve with a new CPM solution.

Conclusion

The leading cloud CPM software solutions have a lot of features and functionality, and changes and improvements are being released all the time. So, when you and your internal team are coming up with a shortlist of the best CPM solutions for the company’s needs, it is advisable to do your own research, review product demonstrations, and make sure the top candidates integrate easily with your ERP and other important systems. If you have special complexities or a lack of time and evaluation skills on your team, then an analyst firm can assist you in various ways.

Links to useful software research and evaluation assets