A Rose By Any Other Name

Last week I weighed in on the on-going debate as to whether PM is the same thing as BI. The Performance Guys seemed to agree with my assessment and echoed my belief that performance management involves motivation, not just monitoring and measuring.  I’d only point out that motivation doesn’t necessarily require money; I once did it with cans of Pepsi.

Timo Elliot, on the other hand, didn’t buy the arguments.  In his words,

“Yes, this process can be more or less sophisticated, and require additional technologies (see Jonathan’s table of the presumed differences between BI and PM) but the notion that at a certain level the business goal suddenly changes strikes me as artificial. […] I believe that organizations have a single business goal — call it, say, ‘performance excellence’ — that covers a spectrum of needs from ‘what’s happening?’ to ‘what should be happening?’, and which requires what are currently called BI and PM tools.”

While I applaud Timo’s efforts to ensure that we’re all more careful in our terminology, I don’t think his post helps remove the confusion. I, for one, can’t tell whether he’s suggesting that the PM and BI markets are the same or just PM and BI technology.  And to suggest that the technologies are the same thing because they both support the business goal of performance excellence is simplification to the point of silliness.  By that argument, ERP and CRM – whose goals are certainly to improve the performance of organizations – must also be the same thing as business intelligence.  In fact, we might as well throw office productivity tools in as well.

Intelligent, well-meaning, people can have differences of opinions on topics.  Religion, politics, and sports are subjects of these endless debates.  Perhaps performance management will be too.

2 Responses to A Rose By Any Other Name

  1. Frequently led by analysts (who offer credibility in their packages), marketing people are often the first to promote names or “handles” for certain groupings of management activities. As ways to facilitate discussions, this is clearly useful but often proves to be a competitive intellectual game. Doing one’s own primary research, one may readily generate other names or groupings as the focus of the very same discussions!

    This time around, what if we take the terms “performance management” and “business intelligence” and normalize them, so to speak. The proper way to compare them is to compare “managing business performance” against “managing business intelligence”. The former is about maintaining alignment of operations to goals. The latter is about managing the lifecycles of knowledge and perspectives.

    In a nutshell, the former *uses* the latter. Even then, the connection is indirect. To the breakdown:
    – Business intelligence assumes an element of managing information.
    – Managing information is not the same as managing performance.
    – “Business” is an indicator for the functional context in which information is assumed to be (or more bluntly, interpreted to be) “intelligence”.
    – “Intelligence” is presumed to be a success factor in business competency. Intelligence is a resource.
    – Competency is presumed to be a success factor in performance. Competency is an attribute.
    – Performance is a comparative measure of an end-state quality relative to a desired quality for the point of measurement. But end-state qualities are simply *outcomes*, not “performance”. Without a desired target state identified, there’s no point in saying “performance”.
    – Business Intelligence offers mechanisms for identifying and prioritizing target states or actual states — and for monitoring actual states against target states.
    – The bridge between business intelligence and performance management is usually business process (action) management supporting portfolio (value) management . For a complex business organization, this bridge is in effect where competency emerges. Intelligence walks on the bridge, and performance walks off it.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Always good to have Malcolm on your side.

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