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There is something irresistible about four boxes and an axis. We want the simplicity that says, “things here are better than things there.” From a business software solution perspective, we often turn to the analysts to help sort the myriad of options into a more manageable list of trusted, stable, and professionally vetted candidates. Having recently earned positions on some of these quadrants, we wanted to offer some tips about how best to use them and what complementary information sources you have at your disposal. For this illustration, we are going to focus on two major analyst quadrants related to Corporate Performance Management solutions: Gartner’s FCPM Magic Quadrant and Nucleus Research’s new CPM Value Matrix.

1. KNOW WHAT’S BEING MEASURED

Understanding the context of an analyst report is clearly the first step in ensuring that you’ll get the right perspective when leveraging it. Gartner, for example, decided in 2016 that there needed to be better clarity between Corporate Performance Management (CPM) and Financial Corporate Performance Management (FCPM). In separating these segments of the CPM market, they could identify the qualifying capabilities and strengths that were more aligned with the needs of buyers in those markets. As an entrant on the inaugural FCPM Gartner Magic Quadrant in 2016, we were pleased to be able to answer a host of questions about our capabilities and customer experiences and we were awarded a spot in the niche quadrant.

Some look at the quadrants and assume that there are one or two quadrants that are “better” than the others, but for most analysts that’s not the case. Each quadrant represents eneterprise solutions with distinctively different strengths and value.

For us, being named as a niche player meant that our focus on leveraging ERP system integration was recognized. For other solutions, they pride themselves on their general approach to data.

Nucleus Research’s CPM Value Matrix is another context-driven analysis of CPM software solutions. Naturally complimentary to the Gartner Magic Quadrant, the CPM Value Matrix focuses on usability and functionality as they believe these provide the greatest indicators of value for enterprise customers.

As they consider facets like time to value and ease of use, Nucleus Research places solutions according to the customer’s primary interests rather that a blanket assessment of capabilities. They would contend that it doesn’t matter how much capability a solution offers if it takes too long to implement and is too cumbersome for a business to leverage.

We were recognized as a facilitator in the Nucleus Research CPM Value Matrix, due to our niche expertise and because our solutions are quick to implement and easy to use. This is a testament to our ERP focus and makes it the ideal quadrant for us.

In short, each of these analyst quadrants showcases different capabilities and perspectives on what customers, like you, would want and need to know as you research CPM solutions.

2. KNOW WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOUR BUSINESS

So, if each analyst is delivering different quadrants, how do you know what you should focus on? Our recommendation is to start by knowing what’s important to your business.

For example, if you are looking to leverage your existing investment in your ERP then make sure you find a solution that connects tightly with your current solutions and data sources (ideally plug and play). A generic CPM tool would likely be overkill for your needs and quickly become overwhelming for the entire business.

Additionally, if what or how things are being measured by the analysts doesn’t align with your business, you should be prepared to put that information aside. As an illustration, in 2017 Gartner added a bar to their CPM quadrants that required vendors to have a set amount of customers running on cloud platforms. If your organization has on-premise ERP or leverages a private cloud and wants a solution that supports those deployment options, the Gartner CPM quadrants might not be particularly useful as relevant CPM vendors would be excluded.

You might also consider the resources that you have to support a CPM system. While some organizations have, or are willing to have, entire departments dedicated to implementing and maintaining a CPM solution, most do not. Therefore, finding an option that is, as Nucleus Research points out, “easy to use and quick to implement” would be of critical importance.

Having your list of capabilities and attributes clearly identified before beginning your research will help you to stay focused on the results you want to achieve rather than the location of a dot on a matrix.

3.  KNOW HOW THEY ARE RELATED

Finally, looking at multiple quadrants provides an opportunity to cross reference for a better, more 3-D look at your solution options. This is especially true in the case of the Gartner CPM Magic Quadrant and the Nucleus Research CPM Value Matrix. Individually, these reports are useful but combined, they are quite powerful as they showcase not only capabilities but also results and live feedback from customers.

Look to more than one report to validate the results as they can complement each other in valuable ways.

SUMMARY

Identifying the right CPM solution (BPM, FCPM, etc.) can be overwhelming, but there are tools at your disposal that can help connect what’s important to you with the solutions that will best match. For more information about the distinct types of performance management solutions, check out the prequel to this blog: "CPM, EPM, PM, BPM, OPM, FCPM, BI … WTF?  What it All Means and Why You Should Care".

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