March 27, 2009, Newsletter Issue #97: Business Intelligence And Sales Force Management (SFM) - Disadvantages

Tip of the Week

In order for any software system to gain acceptance in an organization, it must first overcome the disadvantages identified and, loudly, decried by detractors of change. Haag et al, and Cognos offer some of these negatives and this tip provides some thoughts on how to overcome them.

Detractors claim that sales force management systems are, for example:

Difficult to learnRequire additional work inputting dataDehumanize a process that should be personalRequire continuous maintenance, information updating, and system upgradingCostly to facilitateDifficult to integrate with other management information systems (MIS)Some of the negatives are typical of change-resistant tendencies of human nature and can be dismissed as such. However, care must be taken to ensure that eventually, every user of such a system must embrace it in order for the deployment to be successful. Cognos promotes a concept of the BI Competency Center as a way to put developers and users together to ensure efficient, embraced, and repeatable deployment of BI systems.

Other of the negatives are just plain wrong! There is no way that an automated, web-based reporting structure takes more of a salespersonís time than a manual report. If it does, such hand-prepared reports are probably shallow and worthless to management. Integration of automated SFM tools, if acquired from the right vendor, already have the hooks built in that make compatibility with legacy MIS systems relatively easy.

The final, and most salient of the detractions is cost. IT, especially BI is expensive, but so is lost profit on poor sales performance. If a company desires to embrace the concepts of performance management, then the return on investment (ROI) is substantial. There are many independent sources that discuss measuring ROI in a BI deployment, check them out and the underlying value of such an investment will be compelling.

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