Regardless of what a given company makes, BI (which includes EPM), should be a core competency. That is to say, whatever the key money making operation, an equivalent priority should be the business intelligence capability of the organization. Why?
A widget manufacturer that makes the very best widgets in the world, but doesn’t have the best understanding of costing, inventory planning, or optimizing overhead costs very well...is not likely to last long. With each widget sold, the underperformance hole can get deeper. Conversely, otherwise inferior products sold at the right price carrying a lower cost can mean sustained profitability for another company.
So why is it that companies approach implementing EPM & BI the same way they do every other technology? Which firm should you go with when deploying a Windows upgrade? The lowest cost is probably a valid strategy to select a partner because the Windows OS either works or it doesn’t. Any range of quality in the ubiquitous skills required to be successful with a Windows upgrade do not have a major impact on the value of the outcome.
This is not at all the case with EPM and BI implementations. The lowest cost provider is going to be an opportunistic provider most likely using contractors, who can afford to cut rates because this type of firm doesn’t typically have the burden of paying for expensive attributes of a true leading competitive firm: staff training costs, R&D investments to get an advance understanding of future versions, new platforms, available accelerators, or development costs to build your own accelerators. The opportunistic firms go and find a handful of “skilled” individuals when a project drops in their laps.
Is this the kind of approach you want to take to hone your "core competency"?
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