NEWVena-Logo NEWVena-Logo
Request Demo

Understanding Corporate Performance Management (CPM) Software

June 14, 2019 |

Organizations that properly manage their performance data do well – really well. But the breadth of performance management, and the complexities of enterprise software involved, can spell headaches for the finance teams leading the charge.

Corporate performance management (CPM) software monitors and manages the financial and operational performance of an organization in order to set and meet corporate goals. This typically refers to metrics like return on investment (ROI), operating margins, profits and other key performance indicators (KPIs). In recent years, CPM has evolved into what’s known as full-spectrum FP&A – the idea that all past and present performance feeds into, and directly impacts, the future performance and success of a business.

Comparing CPM - Understanding What CPM Software Does
Corporate performance management software allows finance and business teams to measure and manage their past and present performance in order to maximize future performance.

Managing CPM processes with a single software platform is by far the best solution, but it’s also where the most common problems emerge. There are a number of practical hurdles when it comes to selecting the right system, so it’s important to understand the general needs that enterprise financial software solution tries to solve:

CPM vs. BPM vs. EPM vs. FP&A

Corporate performance management (CPM), enterprise performance management (EPM), business performance management (BPM) and financial planning and analysis (FP&A) software all piece together disparate systems to discern meaningful KPIs.

Though there are many different names and acronyms, these platforms primarily serve the same function:


Modern, full-spectrum financial planning and analysis (FP&A), on the other hand, combines traditional FP&A functions with all the features of CPM software in one solution. It has become the gold standard for finance and accounting to learn from past and present company-wide data to inform better planning decisions that maximize future business performance.

Learn how to research, evaluate and select the perfect FP&A software for your finance and business needs with our free eBook Purchasing FP&A Software for Dummies.

Corporate Performance Management Processes

Enterprise financial software provides a framework for organizations to achieve their financial goals and objectives. The basic financial processes are:

Budgeting, planning and forecasting: Finance teams work closely with executives and other stakeholders to determine the strategic and financial goals of the business. In many ways, FP&A teams have a direct impact on bringing all departments together to work towards a common corporate vision – but it’s not possible without understanding the economic environment and forecasting the organization’s performance effectively.



CPM Software: Key Considerations

When selecting the right software solution, ease of use and adoption – along with features and functionality – are the primary considerations. Many feature-rich platforms have been hastily abandoned due to poor user experience. It’s no surprise that software users will fall back on the tech they’re familiar with when they’re presented with overly challenging options.


If the software doesn’t do what the business needs it to do, little else matters – so it makes sense that functionality and features are often the first factors explored by teams looking to adopt a software solution.

For upwards of four decades, financial analysis has been a spreadsheet-driven process. But it’s hard to keep track of data when it’s stored in numerous Excel spreadsheets or different software systems across the company – and nearly impossible to aggregate that data into a master spreadsheet or single view.  This challenge itself is often the reason why organizations seek out a CPM or FP&A solution.

Establishing a centralized, single source of truth to work from is tough, no doubt about it. But a unified view is essential to all aspects of organizational planning and reporting. And if that data can be integrated automatically, it’s possible to shave countless hours off of financial close processes – with less corrective oversight – and dramatically simplify the budgeting process altogether.

Comparing CPM Software - Essential CPM Functionality
A centralized, single source of truth, combining and reporting on real-time, financial and non-finanacial data, is essential for any modern CPM software solution.

Another important consideration is version control. While change is inevitable, controlling, managing and tracking that change most certainly is not. Version control is necessary to manage data complexity and mitigate risks, from business continuity to regulatory oversight.

But data is meaningless if it can’t be communicated and understood. That’s why reporting is so vital to fulfill the informational needs of an organization. Reporting informs action, alleviates third party audit concerns and drives strategic decision making. Without reports directing action, there’s no movement – or if there is movement, it’s risky.

Ease of Use

The ease of use in a software application has a direct impact on adoption rates. Modern computing is littered with instances of innovative technology being cast aside due to an overly complicated interface. What’s the point of investing in software if nobody’s going to use it?

Ease of use creates immediate value, because it allows the software to be adopted quickly. When business users in particular embrace a new solution, it makes the software more effective, leads to quicker wins that others in the company will notice. The next result in the value chain is buy-in and – in turn – adoption from senior management, using FP&A’s insights  to drive faster, smarter data-driven decisions.

Indeed, the credibility of the finance team – even the future success of the company – can tie back to FP&A software that’s easy to use and widely adopted across the organization.

The vast majority of finance personnel are well versed in Excel, and this familiarity has a huge impact on how finance teams respond to the implementation of a new FP&A system.

Excel: Integration vs. Imitation

A running joke among finance professionals is that the most popular function of any business application is its “Export to Excel” feature. There’s no denying Excel’s versatility. Historically, it’s been used for virtually all basic finance and accounting office functions.

Excel has also been used for analyzing, modeling, reporting and comparative analyses. Its place as the workhorse of the back office has been in place for at least two generations.

Despite Excel’s enduring popularity, it has distinct limitations. For one, it isn’t particularly good at communicating to a wide audience. Advances in data visualization have created audience expectations that Excel can’t easily match. Additionally, Excel presents a host of challenges when it comes to data integration and versioning. When you combine these factors with Excel’s difficulties in dealing with excessively large data sets, the answer becomes clear: it’s time for a unified solution.

The key is to embrace the versatility, usability and familiarity of Excel, while delivering on an enterprise’s need for integration, collaboration and communication. Unfortunately, many platforms fall short by trying to imitate Excel without fully capturing its power, and in the process, creating a steep learning curve for finance professionals who are already Excel pros.

Comparing CPM Software - Embracing Excel for Familiar, Self-serve Dashboard Reporting

The trick is to choose integration over imitation. Combining a centralized database with the ability to import and integrate different data sources from across the organization, while delivering all of the features and functionality of Excel, is the key to maximizing usability and adoption.

Case study: See how Yes! Communities reduced their disparate Excel reports by 82% and gained new insights by implementing the right FP&A solution.

A Comparison of Enterprise Solutions

While most products deliver standard, baseline functionality in terms of data and reporting, the systems and their vendors diverge broadly in terms of ease-of-use, technology integration, breadth of product offering and their approach to customer care and support.

In order to understand how various solutions stack up, it’s important to first consider the essential features that any CPM, BPM, EPM, or FP&A software must include. Otherwise known as “table stakes,” these features are:


Comparing CPM Software - Workflow Automation to Eliminate Tedious, Manual Notification & Data Collection

With these table stakes universal among CPM software, resources abound to compare vendors and their product offerings. Industry analyst reports can be invaluable comparing and selecting the right CPM software, offering customer-driven, objective and third-party analysis of the market landscape and product positioning. Several leading analyst firms comparing CPM software vendors include:

Full-spectrum FP&A: The Future of CPM

Full-spectrum FP&A is rooted in finance’s focus on CPM, but goes much farther. As the following image shows, the full spectrum of FP&A encompasses what’s now available from three traditional but vastly different categories of CPM offerings, allowing companies to manage their past, present and future performance with confidence.

Comparing CPM Software - FP&A and the CPM Vendor Landscape
Full-spectrum FP&A software combines the functionality of traditional, often disparate and unconnected CPM solutions in a single platform for companies' most important performance management and planning needs.

The right FP&A solution delivers insights that help managers make better decisions across an organization. Technology advancements, as well as a concerted focus on ease of use, have made it easier than ever to bring the value of FP&A to all aspects of the business. The key to success starts with the right software, proving its value within finance, then using it across the organization to maximize future performance under almost any scenario.

Ready see full-spectrum FP&A in action? Schedule a free personalized demo today, and see what Vena can do for you!

Recommended Posts

Ease of Use the #1 Driver of BPM Software Success, Survey Finds

June 17, 2020 |

Read More

How to Make an FP&A Mindset Part of Your Company DNA

June 16, 2020 |

Read More

3 Reasons Why the Time is Now for Finance to Adopt AI

June 11, 2020 |

Read More