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3/25/2004
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Group Aims To Bring Structure To Business-Performance Management

The BPM Standards Group issued a standard defining business-performance management and is working on a standard framework of methodologies and processes.

A group of software vendors and analyst firms has developed a standard definition of business-performance management in an effort to bring some structure to the amorphous area, and is working on what it calls a standard framework of methodologies and processes.

Business-performance management combines planning and data analysis to develop a company's strategic goals and track progress toward meeting those goals using financial and operational metrics. Meta Group says sales of business-performance-management-related applications reached $1.1 billion last year.

Many vendors define business-performance management in ways that best match their own product lines, and the lack of a clear definition has created market confusion. On Thursday, the new group, called the BPM Standards Group, issued a standard definition describing business-performance management as a set of integrated, closed-loop management and analytic processes, supported by technologies that address financial and operational activities. business-performance management, the definition continues, helps businesses define strategic goals and measure and manage performance against those goals.

Core BPM processes include financial and operational planning, data consolidation and reporting, modeling, analysis, and monitoring of key performance indicators linked to organizational strategy, the written definition concludes.

A first draft of the BPM processes framework is expected later this spring, says John Colbert, a VP with BPM Partners, a consulting firm. The group includes IBM, SAP, Applix, Hyperion Solutions, BPM Partners, and analyst firms Meta Group, IDC, and the Data Warehousing Institute. Colbert says the idea for the group began as a dinner conversation among executives of the participating companies at a performance-management technology conference in Boston in December.

Notably missing from the group is Cognos Inc., a major vendor of what it calls "corporate performance management" applications. In a statement, the company called the BPM Standards Group "a valuable initiative" and "will consider joining in the near term." The new group will also develop ties with the Business Performance Management Forum, an organization for BPM software users and consultants formed last year that serves as a clearinghouse for ideas and best practices.

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