One of the main keys to success is understanding how effective your business processes are. We’re not just talking about the ones that revolve around your main revenue stream — we’re talking every single one of your processes, from recruiting to marketing to supply chain management. In order to gain insights into the performance of these processes, businesses use two types of software: corporate performance management (CPM) and business intelligence (BI). What the average person doesn’t know, however, is what actually differentiates CPM vs BI. So let’s explore their similarities, their differences and which might be right for you.
A Brief History of Terms
The software world is chock-full of confusing terms and acronyms, so it’s easy to get them mixed up. BI is an umbrella name for “concepts and methods [that] improve business decision-making by using fact-based support systems,” a definition pinned down by Howard Dresner in 1989. The origin may go back as far as the 1800s when businessmen used information to outsmart and outmaneuver their peers and profit.
Soon enough though, the general umbrella term wasn’t specific enough. BPM or business performance management was coined to incorporate the “balanced scorecard” strategy of performance management. As businesses grew and the term “enterprise” began to emerge in the lexicon, BPM morphed into EPM, or enterprise performance management.
Gartner defines EPM, which is used synonymously with BPM, CPM (corporate performance management) and FPM (financial performance management) as “the process of monitoring performance across the enterprise with the goal of improving business performance.” We will be using CPM throughout the article to describe this type of software.
Now that we know what to call each other, let’s go a little deeper into the definition of BI vs CPM.
What Is BI?
Business intelligence software is one of the most sought-after software solutions today. BI tools analyze the data you’ve collected then use it to find the patterns and trends that help inform business decision-making.
In addition, these systems come with reporting features that create data visualizations. Data visualizations are visual reports such as charts and graphs that make the results of the data analysis easy to understand.
Many BI systems also feature a data warehouse, which stores your data and provides access to it when you perform an analysis. Others offer a more pared-down version for enterprise reporting, a more analytics-focused version, modules for processing big data, and some can even be embedded into other software solutions!
BI features include:
- Data Collection
- Data Visualization
- Data Lineage Tracking
- Interactive Visualizations
- Predictive Modeling
- Workflow Collaboration
- Document Management
- Decision Services
- Big Data Integration
What Is CPM?
Corporate performance management, also known as business performance management or enterprise performance management (EPM), is used to gauge how a business performs. As Gartner puts it, CPM is “an umbrella term that describes the methodologies, metrics, processes and systems used to monitor and manage the business performance of an enterprise.”
In other words, CPM helps track your progress by measuring the key performance indicators (KPIs) and performance metrics you’re working towards. Most CPM software does this using planning, forecasting and budgeting.
CPM features include:
- Goal Management
- Performance Evaluation
- Employee Lifecycle Management
- Succession Management
- Compensation Management
- Learning and Development
CPM vs BI: The Similarities
As you can see from the feature lists above, BI and CPM do very different things. Both focus on improving your business processes and are commonly used as a part of a company strategy to streamline everything from day-to-day operations to annual events. Both systems perform data management tasks. They allow users to harness different types of data in order to paint a picture and gain an understanding of a business question.
Their capabilities also cross over in a few areas — namely the reporting and analytics features. Both systems can generate reports based on predetermined metrics.
For example, a CPM user can use the solution to generate a report on a sales rep’s numbers for a quarter and present it to them. Some of these reports might be interactive and allow users to click on different tabs or icons to bring up different metrics, but they are typically fairly simple in both scope and execution.
A BI user can do the same thing, but they can generate reports on a huge range of data types and points. This includes unstructured data from sources like social media, sales reports, quotas, surveys and more.
CPM vs BI: The Differences
Generating reports and data management are where the similarities between BI and CPM stop. There are some crucial differences between the two that should make it easy to keep them straight.
Although they both play a role in decision-making, they play entirely separate ones. While BI helps you decide what decisions to make, CPM monitors your progress based on those decisions.
BI uses advanced analytics to find trends in your data. However, as you’re putting your BI solution to work performing data analysis, you don’t necessarily know what you’re looking for. BI places significant weight on the ability to investigate data through exploration, drill-down and other tools.
Oftentimes, businesses discover trends that they didn’t expect to see as a result of the analysis performed by their BI software. With this information in hand, they can create quantifiable goals and objectives to achieve and make forecasts about how different courses of action might affect their future metrics.
People continuously use BI throughout the decision-making process. BI has real-time data analytics capabilities which let users run ad-hoc queries in real time, at any time. Occasionally, this discovers a new trend that reveals a new goal for you to achieve. This could very well mean shifting slightly, or even completely, away from your old goals. At this point, new KPIs and performance metrics are developed, you use a CPM to track the new goal and the whole process continues.
CPM takes the reins after the analysis to track the progress towards those goals and objectives. After defining specific KPIs and performance metrics, a CPM solution helps you see how close or how far away you are to reaching those goals. Planning, forecasting and budgeting features help create a timeline for achieving them. You can then use a CPM to check if you’re keeping up with that timeline. If you’re not, you can use it to help find out why you’re falling behind and fix the problem until you reach your goal.
To Visualize or Not to Visualize
Another difference between the two is the output. BI focuses on creating visualizations — these can be simple bar graphs or complex, interactive, multi-dimensional graphics that let you scroll in, learn more by clicking around, or adjust the parameters with a single click, like in this interactive visualization from Visual Capitalist. CPM generates a much more abstract final product in the form of financial plans, budgets, performance reports and other data.
Umbrella and Subcategory
Basically, BI includes a wide range of software solutions that fall under its purview — in some cases this includes CPM. CPM is a much more narrowly focused niche of both HR software and BI software that focuses on collecting data for the purpose of improving corporate performance. CPM features could be covered by a BI solution, but a CPM software platform likely won’t meet all the requirements of someone who needs a BI platform.
BI vs CPM: Which Should You Use?
So which of these two systems should you use? Many businesses choose to use exclusively self-service business intelligence tools. For one thing, it’s less expensive to invest in one solution rather than two. And additionally, BI software is often more than adequate for evaluating your KPIs and performance metrics.
However, there are also plenty of businesses that use CPM solutions as complements to their BI software. They do so to help maintain focus on their goals and objectives. This helps keep every goal on track, meaning everything from project management to distribution and sales either reach their peak efficiency, or are headed in that direction.
Neither solution presents a bad choice, as both are very useful in achieving a more effective business. Ultimately, it depends on what your business needs and how much money you have to invest in business software.
Selecting a Software Solution
If you’re still a little confused about how to go about determining which of these types of software is right for you, these steps can help you find the perfect solution.
The first step to choosing software is gathering your requirements. If you don’t know what they are, don’t panic! These interactive requirements templates for BI and CPM can help you identify which features your organization will use and narrow your options down to one or the other.
Once you’ve identified the key features of either type of software, you can begin the comparison process. These comparison matrixes for BI and CPM allow you to compare top vendors in the industry based on their performance in different requirements. Use the matrix of your choice to create a shortlist of around five vendors that meet your needs.
Now you’re ready to request pricing, demos and proposals from vendors! This BI RFP guide offers the template for sending a request for proposal (RFP) to any software vendor. This is the only way to get an accurate quote for the solution; most vendors price their platforms based on very specific criteria, so there’s no way to know for sure how much you’ll be paying without a quote. You can also check out these pricing guides to get an understanding of the industry standards for BI and CPM.
Now you should be fully prepared to go forth and acquire a BI or CPM software solution to begin collecting data, analyzing performance and making smart business decisions!