For example, product lifecycle management provider UGS uses Hyperion Essbase data cubes; utility Baltimore Gas & Electric (BG&E) pulls its data from an Oracle Financial database; credit-union services provider Southeast Corporate Federal Credit Union uses a set of Applix TM1 data cubes; and hospital group Centra Health accesses a set of SAS applications that have a common data architecture. Except for Centra, these organizations pull their data from various transaction and departmental systems, "scrubbing" the data for accuracy and consistency and placing it in validated data stores. Centra has the advantage of already having had to meet regulations that require integrated, consistent data systems, says Kim Price, decision support manager at Centra.
In some cases, organizations can tap into real-time transaction systems rather than use intermediate data stores, as long as they know the data is valid and under what circumstances it's OK for managers to see KPIs based on incomplete or unverified data, IBM's McAuliffe says. He also concedes that managers need to be wary of spending too much time tracking minor variations in unaudited, real-time data.
Sorting the Essential From the Tangential
After an enterprise has a sufficiently robust data infrastructure in place, the big challenge becomes figuring out what data is meaningful, trustworthy, and relevant. Ditto on the metrics used to contextualize that data.
For example, in its CPM deployment, UGS found that, although it could get lots of data from its SAP order-entry and service-billing systems and its homegrown CRM system, some vital data just didn't exist in the SAP data structures, such as revenue from new customers, recalls Eric Kline, director of IT applications at UGS. So, the company had to develop logic rules to create this information from other data. "Additional fields may need to be created or captured" in existing systems, he notes.
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A CPM effort can also expose -- or be torpedoed by -- internal politics. Because a truly effective CPM system allows no one to hide their performance or to maintain silos of proprietary information, accessing the right data and metrics can require navigating difficult political issues. Board members, senior managers, and other authorized users suddenly have access to the same information at the same time. Because of this, report massaging goes away -- as it must for true transparency. Meta Group's Poe suggests that IT staff are well-suited to navigate these waters because they "know how to dissect the unknown -- they're used to change and [to] being transparent from having to share with others on a team." But strong executive support is ultimately required to ensure real sharing, Lawson's Rost says. Otherwise, "you'll find some people trying to protect their turf," UGS' Kline adds.
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