Ah, the ‘90s. It was a time of flannel shirts and cloned sheep – but not cloned sheep in flannel shirts.  Even the ‘90s had standards.

And if you were a company embarking on the brave new world of corporate performance management (now more commonly known as enterprise performance management or EPM), you were rocking the latest and the greatest.

But that was then. That was before the cloud, before mobile – even, in some cases, before the Internet.  Nearly everything has changed in the way companies work since those early days of EPM, when financial plans were static, financial data was dated, reports featured oceans of numbers with little to no context, and business performance was managed in the same top-down manner that companies had employed for decades.

For them, it’s still the ‘90s, even when their customers are desperate for something designed for today’s businesses.The speed of business has accelerated, of course, yet many of the providers of these legacy EPM solutions have failed to keep pace.  Even as they’ve attempted to move their on-premise solutions to the cloud, they remain mired in legacy thinking. They deliver products that still force customers to work in ways that accommodate their applications, rather than delivering applications that work the way people do.

At Tidemark, we’ve had the privilege of working with forward-thinking CFOs who have shed their tired legacy systems for Tidemark’s mobile-first, cloud-based enterprise analytics applications.  And in the process, they are transforming their businesses.

What makes them so transformative? We’ve found five things that virtually all of these CFOs believe are vital for creating a culture of performance throughout their organization.

      1. Empower with information.  Future-focused organizations recognize that information is much more useful when it’s available to people who can use it to impact performance every day. Take it from Brown University’s Roberta Gordon: “By giving people the tools they need to influence change, we have created a value-add environment, where employees are encouraged to engage, and can feel a sense of ownership.”
      2. Make growth a company-wide initiative. A 2013 Gartner survey cites growth as the top priority for CFOs. While those surveyed said performance management and analytics was their most important tool for achieving growth in 2014, only a small fraction of employees actually use that tool for data-driven decisions. The CFOs we work with know that growth must be a company-wide initiative, and that means making enterprise performance management applications available company-wide on desktops and mobile devices alike.  As an added bonus, broader participation tends to produce more accurate forecasts.
      3. Move from transactions to insight.  When CFOs focus on transaction processing, they’re often viewed as bean counters. When they focus on marshaling their EPM resources to draw real-time insights that help managers across the business clearly understand the implications of their actions, they become something else altogether: strategic business influencers.
      4. Key in on collaboration.  Collaboration exists in some fashion in all companies, but those that excel make collaboration a key part of forecasting and planning. When a corporate culture is built around collaboration, team members gain rich context that closes gaps in understanding, improves the accuracy of forecasts and the relevance of plans, and keeps employees committed and engaged.
      5. Narrow the focus. Transformative CFOs don’t try to transform everything at once. Identifying the handful of business drivers that impact the lion’s share of operational and financial results automatically clarifies where to invest the most time and attention. For CFOs to get the results they want, they need to focus on the things that matter most.

Clearly, this isn’t ‘90s thinking. It reflects an understanding that when it comes to maximizing enterprise performance in today’s business environment, it’s best to leave the past where it belongs.