Traditionally, businesses have focused on their historical performance in an
attempt to accurately forecast what is likely to happen in their future,
writes David McWilliam, MD of Cognos SA.

Unfortunately, this has not always delivered the desired results. Gaining a
glimpse into what the future holds is further hindered by slow, manually
driven reporting processes. In order for businesses to stay ahead of the
game, they need to look toward automated Performance Management (PM)
PM solutions will assist to ensure staff understand the corporate strategy,
have access to real-time information in order to make timeous decisions,
have a means of clear measurement in place and are accountable.
A key challenge prevalent in today's dynamic business environment is the
need to respond to fluctuating trends and economic downturns, anticipating
outcomes and identifying the action that will achieve the best outcome. In
order for businesses to anticipate these shifts and changes, and respond
agilely to them, they need to focus on achieving a deeper business insight.
This empowers employees to make better business decisions, react faster,
improve efficiencies, reduce costs and comply with corporate governance
A considerable amount of knowledge remains 'locked' within business ICT
systems. Business intelligence (BI) and analysis are the keys to liberating
this information in a contextualised format. This approach that delivers
greater business insight and ultimately improves performance. However,
combined with the other underlying technologies such as measuring, planning
and forecasting, PM delivers far more valuable results – it allows
businesses to understand trends, plan ahead, execute strategies and measure
their effectiveness, keep abreast of compliance issues and optimise the
business operations.
PM is not exclusive to executives in an organisation. BI can enable all
employees within an organisation to work more efficiently and effectively,
allowing them to participate in a more productive manner. In addition,
creating a 'golden thread' of information across the organisation means
interconnectedness is created that improves overall performance. However,
buy-in from all staff is crucial for this to succeed.
Having a 'game plan' is part of the recipe for successful businesses.
However, business agility is pivotal if an organisation is to respond
quickly and agilely in terms of repositioning themselves advantageously in
an anticipated future scenario. Streamlining management processes results in
business agility and allows companies to respond faster when business
conditions change. It also allows them to leverage opportunities that can be
lost if not acted upon quickly.
BI provides this component, delivering timely information, analysis into
underlying business issues, and business metrics that provide management
with a snapshot of performance issues. This allows businesses to evolve from
managing information to analysing and acting upon it.
Compliance is often approached by businesses as a 'must do' rather than a
'want to'. However, the underlying benefit of compliance is that it improves
efficiencies and performance in an organisation. Think of it as a PM
partner. It drives these efficiencies through timeous reporting and provides
a clear understanding of the drivers of compliance, such as financial
accountability and transparency. Having a PM solution that automates various
processes and highlights performance issues within an organisation allows
businesses to better manage their compliance requirements.
Ultimately, having the right tools to drive faster time to decisions allows
businesses to save time and money. This it achieves by driving greater
efficiencies across the organisation, reducing time taken to action tasks
and increasing business optimisation. The PM platform therefore delivers on
the technology promise of a return on investment, allowing the organisation
to be run in a leaner, meaner manner.