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Next week in Atlanta, SAP Insider will convene their first ever conference on Performance Management and Planning.  This marks a shift in not only the SAP community to recognize corporate performance management as a key to growth strategies, but also to define this as a separate discipline beyond traditional finance and controlling activities.  The conference will be co-located with the SAP Insider Project Management and SAP Insider Reporting and Analytics INTERACTIVE conferences, both favorites of regular SAP Insider attendees.  As a frequent speaker at SAP Insider events and co-author of an SAP Press book on the topic, I am excited about this direction. I believe there will be significant take-aways from the program based on the line-up, which will include a keynote by Clemens Praendl, Sr Vice President and General Manager for SAP Analytics.


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The three things to look for next week in Atlanta from my vantage point:


  1. Growth Strategies and Innovation are back on the table.  During the peak of the Great Recession, companies cut to the bone with “1% IT” programs (you spend 1% of company revenues to keep the lights on, no investments at all).  I confess back then I was part of a strategy team working through the market to drive down cost structures using this approach.  The problem is that today many of those same organizations that survived near-death experiences can’t grow because they are still stuck in this spend model, starving not only the development of new competitive technological innovations but also the scalability of their overall IT operations. Corporate performance approaches – such as peer benchmarking and value engineering – illustrate performance areas that suggest where and how companies can improve relative to peer group and best practice process execution, with return on Investment (ROI) profiles to support IT and business process innovation … and growth.
  2. Visibility through Analytics is still a Competitive Differentiator.  A great example of where companies are looking to extend innovation is through the use of analytics and how to visualize analytics using large data sources of both structured and unstructured information.  Through the use of HANA to process and contextualize information real-time, with a number of visualization platforms, companies can make real-time decisions across multiple operations and business units to really behave like one global corporation.  As an example, a major Fortune 100 manufacturer recently signed on to a five-year platform unification effort across three global business units (each being large enough to qualify for the Fortune 500 list), to organize operational data, financial consolidations, and capital allocation.  This increased visibility will save the overall corporate an enormous amount, freeing up working capital and reducing structural costs to be more competitive in the marketplace.
  3. Value Realization beyond the Business Case will justify long-term investments.  I am finding in the field value realization approaches are quite useful to continually monitor progress of major initiatives and work streams, long after the business case has been approved and programs have launched.  Through quarterly governance and ongoing tracking against value maps, ROI models and scorecards, organizations have greater visibility to not only SAP programs in flight but also policy changes and business environments necessary to effect business change and achieve corporate business outcomes.  (I’ll have a session specifically dedicated to how we do this on Tuesday morning October 28).  Value realization approaches keep complex, multi-year change initiatives on track so that expected benefits can be harvested or reinvested by the organization.

For more information on SAP Insider Performance Management and Planning visit the event website and follow #PerfMgmt2014 on Twitter.  If you are at the conference please feel free to visit me at one of my sessions or at the networking events and follow me here and on Twitter at @william_newman.

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