Drive Business Performance (Book Review)

December 28, 2008
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I finally read Drive Business Performance: Enabling a Culture of Intelligent Execution (Microsoft Executive Leadership Series) by Bruno Aziza and Joey Fitts. Bottom line: this is a very good book on the business benefits and high-level “how to” of enterprise…

I finally read Drive Business Performance: Enabling a Culture of Intelligent Execution (Microsoft Executive Leadership Series) by Bruno Aziza and Joey Fitts.

Bottom line: this is a very good book on the business benefits and high-level “how to” of enterprise performance management (EPM).

While the authors refer to this domain simply as ‘performance management’ (more on this here), it’s not to be confused with the annual Human Resources review process, but rather all of the people, process, and technology involved in sustainably executing your strategy.

This book is not too technical nor too theoretical. It has the right balance of business perspective, systems enablement, and process maturity to give a good overview of the promise of EPM and strategy execution. It makes liberal use of case studies, examples and stories to illustrate points and give more depth to the insights.

Some highlights:

  • Fact-based, data-driven decision making (p.12)
  • Strategic, Operational, and Tactical Decisions (p28)
  • The Foundation for Decisions: information & trust (p32)
  • Competitive Benchmarking (p16)
  • The ‘right’ metrics (p49, 69)
  • Line of Sight visibility (p.93)
  • Accountability Mapping (p 226) and also how difficult it is to visualize and map metric relationships (p. 69) – of course this area is of special interest to me since it’s what we do
  • A very good “uber” model for determining where to focus your efforts (p.254)

They also follow-up the book with more information on their companion website at http://www.cultureofperformance.com

A few things could be improved (perhaps for the second edition):
– There is a disconnect early on in the book between modeling and planning. Financial Modeling is lumped together with scenario planning later on (p. 195, 212, 217) and is probably collapsed early on with “Plan.” But the distinction is important enough that they should be “un-collapsed” and addressed separately in the model from the start. There was an attempt at this on pages 38 & 39, but I think it was buried and not highlighted. On page 38 in figure 2.2 they say Planning answers the question “What do we want to see happen” and at the top of page 39, under Plan capabilities, they say it addresses “how to model what should happen.” I think it would be more helpful to say that:
         Modeling (financial & operational) helps answer the question “what do we want to happen” (and includes things like strategic objectives/targes, assumptions & constraints), and
         Planning (financial & operational) helps answer the question “how do we want it to happen” (and includes resource allocation, more specific targets, and accountability down to the planning unit level).This really is an untapped area of EPM that should be on most people’s roadmaps.

– More detail on statutory consolidation and reporting, especially with the emphasis on IFRS vs. US GAAP happening these days would be good (it’s briefly addressed on page 214)

– I’d like to see real examples of competitive benchmarking and how EPM impacts financial performance (eg: Revenue Growth, Operating margin, cash cycle, etc.)

– Perhaps more on the functional issues of performance management, that is, how points of view differ across marketing, sales, finance, operations, and so on.- And, of course, more leadership in the use of the term “Performance Management” versus EPM, BPM, CPM, IPM, etc.

All in all, a very good read and certainly belongs on the bookshelf of any EPM manager and any CIO and CFO….hopefully dog-eared and well-worn.

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