I was recently dragged through the LEGO movie. I must have had corporate performance management technology on my mind because apart from being an overwhelming experience, the plot reminded me of the different technology options available to businesses. You’ve got to worry!
Lord Business had created a world of limited imagination, standard everywhere, overly constrained by rules, same, same for all. During the film there was a realisation that the art of master building had been lost and Emmet, a small LEGO boy, found he was harbouring master building greatness. He uses his unlocked imagination to confront Lord Business. Emmet convinces Lord Business that creativity is not messy or weird, and that it is okay for the people to build brand-new ideas from all the things Business himself had made.
So how did I make the connection to my CPM application thoughts?
Well a lot of applications are advertised as commoditised, point solutions, in a box, I often hear. Simply access and go. These remind me of the highly attractive, relatively expensive LEGO themed box sets I have purchased for my kids. The Star Wars, Batman, LEGO City, Disney, etc, character-based sets. They come with precise instructions, almost work exclusively in one way, and have unique pieces for a singular purpose. Typically they are built once and never again. Indeed the value diminishes very quickly. Great marketing, a booming business for LEGO. So it’s in a box, off the shelf, one purpose only. Some sets are themed together but generally Star Wars figures don’t cut in to your Middle Earth Landscape, or should I say Financial Budget App Guy looks lost in Operational world!
I contrast this with the old world of boxes of standard bricks that left the kids to use their imagination but, critically, design was limited to the shapes available. The rotor blades to your super heli-fighter were paddle pop sticks and gum. Here the problem was the pieces lacked the comprehensiveness of a holistic toolkit that allowed the imagination to be fulfilled. So in CPM terms, it’s like just handling the version management in Excel workbooks via file systems and email, or fudging driver-based planning because you cannot easily model and incorporate sales data. Robust? Repeatable? No? At the end of the day, your kids will chew the paddle pops and the game won’t last. In the worst case, many technologies are too fixed together. Indeed at one stage in the LEGO Movie, Lord Business’ forces gain the upper hand in reversing the citizens’ creative weapons and Kragle-izing them. Kragle turns out to be Krazy Glue. Yep, glue LEGO together then try and make something.
Can I contrast the above with the ultimate master building CPM technologies that have a full complement of scalable building blocks, quality adaptable components you can design and deploy around your business specific processes? Now building blocks should not mean resorting to development or coding to build systems partially or from the ground up. That’s like having the super duper LEGO kit but a 100 page guide in 28 different languages just not yours! Your super duper, rapid delivery kit needs to come in the “build by business and finance” language without the decode with help from IT and development.
So look around your organisation and ask whether you have master building capability. Can you rapidly build your competitive advantage in your performance, planning, reporting solutions? Can you be creative, and keep it dynamic and relevant?
Or do you really think performance planning and reporting is not worth being creative with? Frequently people take software “boxes” off the shelf, one at a time, and gradually they become overwhelmed by a theatre of characters and lack of a cohesive storyboard. Conversely, they tackle every adventure with their single Wookiee or worse still, with their half Bart, half Barbie, half-cocked solution.
Indeed the lack of master building technology thwarts your master building. As a CFO do you feel blocked from obtaining the improvements you seek?
What are the benefits of getting this right? Well, as Emmet said, “everything is awesome”.
Scania Australia did some CPM master building recently with a staggering achievement of reducing budgeting preparation from 19 days to 90 minutes.
Indeed, with the right toolkit platform you go from one success to another.
You can read more about Professional Advantage and corporate performance management here.
You can read other blogs for CFOs by Jonathan Marcer here or follow the High Performance for CFOs LinkedIn page to keep up to date.
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