And The Winner Is…
Posted by Alan on May 12, 2009
So after much research, discussion and thought, TGO Consulting has mapped out the new road map for our business intelligence practice. A lot of work has gone into our decisions and I hope we have made the right choices. I can’t speak for everyone here, but if I have to be involved in restructuring a BI practice a 3rd time, you are going to next see me on the evening news with the phrase “goes postal” being used to describe my actions.
After the dust (and anger) settled on the January PPS announcement we got down to business and began working out our options. We were still convinced that there was a huge opportunity for BI/CPM offerings and even though Microsoft might have made a stupid decision we still wanted to pursue the market.
The first thing we did was to decide if we were still on-board with PerformancePoint M&A now that it was being shifted to the SharePoint group. Ultimately the answer was “yes”, although we did/do have some concerns as to how much attention (i.e., development dollars, marketing, support, etc.) PeformancePoint Services will be receiving now and in the future. We also worry about the potential marginalization of the product. The fear here is a potential erroneous perception that since it is now a “free” feature within MOSS, then just how good could it be and just how seriously is it being handled by Microsoft. Because of that we have decided to boost our offerings in this area and will be utilizing more Excel (with and without Gemini), Virtual Earth and Visio into our solutions. We are also toying with adding Xcelsius to our mix as well.
So after we had taken care of the M&A side of the house we had to decide what to do for planning. We we were committed to offering a complete CPM solution. Right away we decided that before any final decision we would wait until the Dynamics group released their product road map. Not only did it make business sense to wait, but I think to some degree, as irrational as it was, we still hoped that the Dynamics team would decide that PPS Planning made the most sense and that they would keep it alive. Hope springs eternal as they say.
So while we waited on the Dynamics group we looked at our other options. We debated pushing Microsoft to make PPS Planning open source and supporting and developing it ourselves. However, we figured that ultimately this was an uphill battle as we would not have the same name recognition as Microsoft and there is tremendous reluctance out there to implement anything open source when it comes to financial related applications. We also considered creating our own solution utilizing Excel as the user interface, SharePoint for the work-flow and form storage and SQL/SSAS for security and data storage. But like the open source option above, the barriers to getting in the door and providing support were huge.
After that we began researching various vendors. As a guide we utilized feedback from other people we knew, web searches, blog posts and the Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management Suites from Gartner. The things we looked at from a solution and/or vendor included:
- What target market does the product serve and does that match the market we want to service.
- Does the product leverage the learning/skills we had gained with PerformancePoint Planning?
- What is their partnership program like and what is their philosophy on dealing with partners.
I won’t go into the specifics of who we evaluated or how they ranked. But ultimately we decided that for our clients who are running Dynamics and have simple needs we will still be implementing Forecaster (and later on down the road Management Reporter). For our more complex/larger Dynamics clients or for non-Dynamics clients we have decided that we will be implementing the planning solutions from Clarity Systems.
So why did we choose Clarity? It came down to what I had listed above:
- Clarity is focused on the Enterprise space but looking to also serve the upper mid-market with their product. The upper mid-market to low enterprise space is TGO’s sweet spot.
- Clarity planning solution is based on the Microsoft stack and utilizes SQL/SSAS for back-end storage and Excel as their user/designer interface. All things that we have familiarity with thanks to PPS.
- They are now building a limited reseller channel that will not be open to any partner that has a pulse and some cash. Because of that we will have greater opportunity to be heard when we have concerns or comments. Plus Clarity is based here in Toronto so it is easy to get support directly for a project or go down and yell and scream to get our point across if needed.
Later this week I fly to Orlando for some preliminary training that is being held in conjunction with Clarity’s annual user conference. I am sure I will have more to post after that experience.
I am also curious what solutions the readers of this blog — all 5 of you — have decided as your replacement for PerformancePoint Planning. Please post a comment and let me know.