So, a finance team puts in $750k and is 8 months into the implementation with a big vendor. The team meets with the vendor’s project manager to discuss the status and asks the vendor about promised functionality. The vendor replies; “That might be what sales told you, but I’m telling you what we CAN do.” -Anonymous Big Vendor Project Manager
And it turns out it wasn’t enough. This particular finance team cut off the project and implemented a smaller vendor’s solution. Not only was the smaller vendor faster and cheaper, but the little’ guy’s software actually did the things the sales team promised. The little guy came out on top.
I’m sure there’s some truth to the old axiom, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM”, but is anyone really losing their job these days for buying more affordable software solutions from smaller vendors.
I’ve seen hints of big vendor risk over the last 15 years. As finance professionals, I think it’s time we get the clue. Nearly all analysts and pundits covering planning software see the benefits of going small when it comes to software. The real problem is senior management. When a senior leader decides to implement a big vendor, that decision is generally not made based on the preferences of the people who will actually be using the software. When I ask my friends in finance who use big-vendor solutions why they use big vendor software, they tend to reply “because I have to.” And, they actually wind up doing most their financial modeling and just about all their analysis in spreadsheets.
By now, we all know it takes longer to build models with big vendor software. We all know IT is often required to make even the most basic change to a driver assumption or modeled relationship. Many of us have built models in one platform only to see our modeling environment sunsetted and replaced by whatever new software solution the big vendor decides to acquire. I just read a recent press release from a little guy trying to migrate existing big vendor customers to their small vendor solution. It’s no wonder that small vendors tend to appear at the top of the list on surveys ranking software solutions. I think IBM Cognos may have scored the highest score out of all big vendors with a 4.19 out of 5 on a recent survey. Customers consistently rate small vendors such as AxiomEPM, Tagetik, and Adaptive higher than their big vendor counterparts.
In Big Vendors, Big Risk, Rob Lautt, a small-vendor CEO, describes 3 key reasons why small vendors tend to be better than bigger vendors for corporate performance management.
I invite you to share your personal experiences with small and/or big vendors in the Corporate Performance Management (CPM) space. You may want to use these 3 benefit areas as inspiration. Let’s stand up against big vendors and large-scale software deployment failures and get back to meaningful and impactful work.