Choosing the right corporate performance management solution is often a complex decision process. The first step is to be able to articulate the business problem and to identify an area of pain to use as the subject for a proof of concept (POC). The POC should take no more than a day or two to complete in terms of technical design and build.
We wanted a well-known solution and whilst there were a number of candidates, only one company, ICit, a leading IBM Cognos Business Partner in the UK, offered to run a proof of concept session using Robinsons’ own financial data. The demonstration went well and ICit was chosen as the supplier with the most expertise and dedication. We were also aware that ICit had won several awards from IBM – Lee Cunliffe, Commercial Accountant, Robinsons Brewery
The key to a successful POC is to choose a report or specific requirement that will enable you to assess whether the software can solve a business problem that has not been solved by other solutions (e.g. Excel) or that the business has outgrown.
The following is a checklist of information that should be prepared before the POC;
- Reports – examples of Management reports (current or future requirements), copy of existing Excel based spreadsheets are useful too.
- Sample Data – this may reside in an Excel spreadsheet or a csv file. The data needs to include data for each dimension (e.g. week, account code, product, etc.). Please refer to Appendix for an example file definition.
- Dimensions – a list of possible “dimensions” that will support the management reports. For example, List of Cost Centres, List of Products / Regions (if relevant), List of Accounts (plus mapping from management accounts to statutory account codes if statutory accounts required), List on Non-Financial Measures (e.g. Headcount, Number of Items, etc.)
- Business Rules – there may be a number of calculations that are required to calculate KPIs from base measures. These may already exist on Excel spreadsheets. For example; Gross Margin % = Gross Margin / Revenue, Average Price = Revenue / Qty
- Data cleansing/issues – a list of known data issues (e.g. imbalances between systems, poor data capture at source, inconsistent definitions, timing issues).
- A wish list of future applications. This is useful to ensure that the first application can, if required, be linked to other applications later. Examples may include; Management Accounts Reporting Pack, Budgeting & Forecasting, Operational KPI reporting system, What If? scenario planning.
- Approximate number of users of the system, both now and in a year’s time.
- A list of source data systems, plus an indication of whether data can be extracted from these systems (i.e. is there a systems person on hand to assist with data extracts that may be restricted due to security) – ideally extracts should be prepared and sent to ICit in advance.