QNH: The Performance Management Roadmap - Patrick Fiolet and Teus Verbree
FDs don’t just need the best tools for timely predicting and presenting of financials. Patrick Fiolet and Teus Verbree of QNH say that, to maximise value, firms first need an effective performance management roadmap.
In the current climate, where banks can melt down overnight, finance directors need immediate access to historical and predictive information in order to steer their corporate ships effectively. The functionality and capabilities of technology platforms that support activities such as planning, budgeting, forecasting, reporting and the fast closing of books continue to impress as the fields of business intelligence and performance management converge in the wake of considerable consolidation among vendors.
‘Companies need to have figures to hand to measure its performance, and they need to be sure of the figures they release to the stock exchange,’ says Patrick Fiolet, one of the managing directors of QNH Performance Management. ‘In the last few years there has been a big step forward. Companies have matured and they understand that performance management is a business issue, not a technology issue, even though software is involved. We are already past the stage where performance management has become a “must-have”.’
Top of the tree
QNH is the Oracle/Hyperion implementation and education company, and it focuses on helping clients improve business processes and related technology through its business integration framework. Its advisors have years of consolidation and budgeting and forecasting experience.
Oracle is among the vendors with the biggest presence in performance management – a market in which there has seen wide-ranging consolidation. SAP, IBM, Microsoft and Infor are among those vying for a large share of the market, but the dynamics are changing as companies realise they do not have to be tied to existing vendor relationships.
‘Vendors that have been buying up the tools and their customers, who are up to speed with ERP systems and data management, are now looking at what they can do next,’ comments Teus Verbree, also managing director at QNH Performance Management. ‘Vendor consolidation means that customers can make better choices and ask themselves whether they need to go with their existing ERP vendor.’
Clear and committed approach
Implementing a performance management solution successfully depends on much more than the capability of the software; it requires a clear and structured approach, as each implementation varies to meet the scale, strategy and industry sector of each company. There must be transparency within the organisation to ensure the right metrics emerge, and there needs to be a committed approach from all parts of the business – IT, finance and operations.
Achieving this means getting commitment from the right internal stakeholders, but is easier when experienced external advisors can help define an implementation roadmap. For Fiolet, it is important to remember that performance management is a process, not a sudden switch to a new paradigm.
Furthermore, he believes it is a process that must start in the finance department, moving on to forecasting, budgeting and strategic planning.
‘Companies must be aware that performance management is a goal, and reaching that goal requires many steps,’ he says. ‘Define a strategy of where you want to be and how to become a performance company. A lot of companies expect overnight change, just as they expected an ERP system to transform all their challenges into opportunities, before they realised that it was just a tool. Performance management is a tool to streamline your business.’
According to Verbree: ‘It is always a combined effort and we typically co-build the implementation. In many applications you can rely more on external consultants, but for performance management there must be a team from the client company that is committed to the project. You need the CFO, CIO and maybe the CEO on the steering committee. We spend a lot of effort getting IT people to understand that all projects are a combined effort between the finance and the IT departments from the start.’