The competitive advantage of
Version : 1.0
Last Update : 1/12/2004
Status : Final
Author : Rob van Agteren
Review : Jaap Drenth
www.ackinas.com Page : 1
The Search for Competitive Advantage ........................................................... 3
CPM: next in line of management theories ............................................................ 3
CPM: Adding Value to Business ............................................................................ 4
CPM: What's Involved? ......................................................................................... 4
Components of the Solution............................................................................. 6
Bridging the gap between Strategy and Execution ................................................ 6
People ............................................................................................................... 7
The CPM Solution............................................................................................ 8
The System to support the formulation, communication and monitoring of strategy
(Balanced Scorecard)............................................................................................ 8
Process Management.......................................................................................... 11
Scenario Planning/Cost Control........................................................................... 12
Risk Management ............................................................................................... 14
Characteristics of CPM Systems ......................................................................... 15
Modular practical approach............................................................................ 16
The power of integrating processes, costs, risk and measurement in strategy and
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The Search for Competitive Advantage
In the quest for competitive advantage, organizations continually search for the
next "big thing," that application, service, business methodology, or unique way of
using technology that will catapult them ahead of their competitors and reward them
with increased profits. In a volatile business climate where product life cycles are
shrinking and global markets make it easier for new competitors to capture market
share, that search - and its result - becomes critical to the organization's survival.
Into this arena comes yet another new business term: "Corporate Performance
Management" or CPM for short. Initially coined by Gartner, the Stamford,
Connecticut-based research and advisory firm, they use this umbrella term to
describe "the methodologies, metrics, processes and systems used to monitor and
manage the business performance of an enterprise."
But in many respects this doesn't seem to be anything new. After all,
organizations have always sought to manage their performance. The critical
difference that CPM brings today is the integration of processes, metrics and
systems. It is a corporate wide strategy that seeks to align departmental initiatives to
prevent managers from optimizing local business at the expense of overall corporate
performance. It is not a “one-off” project but an ongoing process – part of the daily
work of managers.
In this paper Ackinas shows its way of interpreting CPM and that, with the
support of the modern technology and a pragmatic implementation approach, the
highest corporate maturity level can be reached with relatively low investments.
Ackinas - CPM helps organizations to implement their strategy and streamline
processes and financials into a continuous optimum, through short projects delivering
sound results and supported with best of breed software solutions.
CPM: next in line of management theories
The past decades we have experienced a lot of theories that supported managers in
improving results. In the fifties, in rebuilding society after the war, everything that
could be produced could be sold. In the ’60 and ’70 overcapacities in production
became a fact in many industries and marketing theories became important to
conquer and protect market share. Lately, optimizing logistics (supply chain
management) and shareholder-value demand a more integrated approach for
organizations to be competitive.
Competitive organizations have to:
• control their processes;
• be lean with good planning and control cycle;
• have a transparent relation between costs and activities;
• optimize performance;
• know and manage potential strategic and operational risks
This way the organization is able to lay out a strategy (= what do I have to do
tomorrow to be more successful), see the total consequences of different scenario’s
and translate the strategy into operational actions.
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In the past decades several management theories, to improve the performance of
organizations, have been introduced:
• Total quality management/change (ISO 9000, EFQM, Six Sigma...)
• Business process redesign
• Logistic theories (JIT – MRP – supply chain management)
• Strategic costs analysis – Activity based costing – Cost Management - …
• Performance management – Balanced Score Card - …
CPM connects a vast majority of these management
theories, where managers can optimize the activities
related to their role in the organization. A lot of value
can evaporate when operational managers are not
aligned to the corporate strategy.
• How is the mission of the company translated in
• How does an organization set a well balanced set
of objectives derived from the corporate strategy
and communicate them to the organization;
• How does the planning and control cycle fit in
• How do scenario analysis and forecasting fit in
• How are internal and external risks managed
• How are the processes actively connected with
(strategic) cost management, reporting
(scorecarding) and risks
• How can an organization replace corpulent
Figure 1: CPM integrates processes,
reporting by structured integrated management costs, risks and performance
solutions management; both in strategy and in
CPM: Adding Value to Business
CPM adds value to the business by focusing on how an organization
develops, implements and monitors strategic plans. This strategic focus is kept
throughout all management processes, right down to the contribution individual
budget holders make.
CPM is about the efficient and effective execution of the strategic plan. When this
focus is combined with the available technologies, studies indicate that organizational
performance is greatly enhanced.
CPM: What's Involved?
As mentioned earlier, CPM takes a holistic approach to the implementation
and monitoring of strategy. It combines business methodologies such as scorecards
and activity based management; metrics that are the specific measures used within
those methodologies; processes, which are the procedures that an organization
follows to implement and monitor corporate performance; risks management, which
assesses the likelihood and impact of future events, be they favorable or
unfavorable, and monitors the execution of mitigation plans; and systems, which are
the technology solutions that combine the methodologies, metrics, risk-mitigations
and processes into a single corporate-wide management system.
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A CPM system differs from other approaches to performance management in
that it leverages both technology and best business practices to help executives
answer the key questions around the formulation and effective implementation of
CPM answers the key questions around implementing and monitoring strategy execution
A CPM system enables a closed-loop process that starts with understanding where
the organization is today, where it wants to go to, what targets should be set, and
how resources should be allocated to achieve those targets. Once plans have been
set and communicated to the organization, the system then monitors the
performance of those plans, highlights exceptions, and provides insight as to why
they occurred. The system supports the evaluation of alternatives from which
decisions can be made -- which then closes the loop by leading back to deciding on
where the organization wants to go.
To support the formulation and implementation of strategy, which is a
continuous process, a CPM application begins by integrating company-wide
planning, budgeting, forecasting, reporting, and analysis. It supports methodologies
for linking strategy to the allocation of assets (financial and non-financial) so that
strategies can be transformed into action. A CPM application enables executives to
communicate and drive strategy down throughout the entire organization in a
way that helps people act
and make decisions that
support the strategic
goals. Finally, it helps
members of the
organization focus on
key issues and critical
data, rather than on all the
data and events that are
possible. It delivers the
right information to the right
people at the right time in
the right context.
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Components of the Solution
So what's involved in implementing an effective CPM solution? How do organizations
move from traditional business management processes to those that encompass
Bridging the gap between Strategy and Execution
To bridge the gap
between strategy and
execution, four different
areas of management need
to be aligned: Measures,
Processes, People and
Technology. Aligning two or
even three of these areas is
not enough -- all four need to
To begin with, organizations need to plan and measure the right things. For
example, if customer satisfaction is an essential part of your business, then it is
obvious that business activities that focus on keeping customers satisfied should be
planned and measured. A sad fact is that most organizations rely mainly of financial
measures -- take a look at your typical monthly management report. The chances are
that it shows this year actual vs. this year budget by summary chart of accounts. And
that's the level most people budget at -- by financial account. The trouble with this is
that financial accounts are typically the result of actions and not the actions
themselves. It's like looking at a garage bill that shows the cost of the service -- but
not what was actually carried out. This means that when a variance occurs or a
desired result is not achieved, you do not know what caused the variance. For
example, was the action fully carried out?
Check out your own budgets, reports and forecasts -- are you measuring the
right things -- the things that drive value in your organization?
Once an organization has decided on the right measures, they need to decide
on what targets should be set and how they are going to be delivered. To do this
organizations typically invoke the processes of strategy formulation (i.e., deciding on
how to achieve the target measures); planning (deciding on exactly what actions or
tactical plans will be required to implement the chosen strategies); budgeting
(allocating resources to those tactical plans); management reporting (monitoring the
actions and results of the tactical plans ability to reach the target measures);
forecasting (to see if the target measures set over time are still on course to be
achieved); and finally analysis (to see where the variances are and to decide on what
to do about them).
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Now this explanation seems very logical -- but we challenge you to see how
your own processes of strategic planning, budgeting, management reporting,
forecasting and analysis actually stand up to that description. Can you see in each
process the action plans of how each measure is going to be delivered? Sadly, too
many management processes are financially focused rather than focused on actions
to deliver specific measures. Without this focus, performance becomes something
that just happens, rather than being driven by management action.
People are nearly always responsible for the results they produce. And the
reverse is also true -- to produce desired results requires people to do the right
things. But quite often, incentives paid to people are often at odds with an
organization's strategy. Consider the following: The aim of most organizations is to
beat the competition and yet we often reward people on beating the budget. As a
result, employees will focus their attention during the budget process of minimizing
revenues and maximizing costs. Even worse, if those budgets are not aligned with
strategy -- for example the revenue budget is set to grow 5% year a year when the
economic climate actually grows by 15% -- we are now rewarding people for
achieving below market growth while our competitors take market share from us.
Incentives should always be set on individual ability to implement action plans
that meet or exceed strategic goals. These goals in turn must reflect what the
organization wants to achieve in the ever changing business environment in which it
The role of technology is to enable the CPM process to deliver strategic goals.
Strategic planning, budgeting, forecasting and monitoring actual, are all part of the
same process -- moving an organization towards achieving its desired goals.
The trouble is that most organizations implement them as discreet and
separate processes often using different and incompatible technologies. For
example, a Word document may be used to capture the strategic plan, spreadsheets
used to enter budgets, the general ledger to report actual while a general purpose
OLAP tool is used to analyze variances. Four different systems, four different
technologies, resulting in four separate versions of the truth. Some poor soul now
has to make these fit together in order to answer questions such as: Which products
are forecasted to be the most profitable compared to last year.
CPM exploits technology by combining all the management processes into a
single, closed loop application focused on the implementation of strategy.
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The CPM Solution
Ackinas supports its CPM solution through an integrated suite of software tools.
Strategy Formulation and Performance management is supported by the Balanced
Scorecard system QPR Scorecard, a fully integrated Process Management solution
is supported by QPR-Process Guide, Scenario planning, simulation, budgeting and
forecasting is supported by the cost management solution QPR-CostControl and
Ackinas has completed its CPM solution with the integrated Strategic and
Operational Risk management solution of BWise (IC and ORM). The communication
and collaboration part is fulfilled by the QPR Portal. This way technology enables
managers to really start to actively manage corporate performance.
The System to support the formulation, communication and
monitoring of strategy (Balanced Scorecard).
Most Software vendors of CPM solutions aim to provide integrated applications
that support all of the basic processes of Corporate Performance Management
(CPM) -- from the formulation of strategy, through implementation, monitoring,
forecasting and reporting on progress. But for the most part, these rely on the
collecting and reporting of measures either by some kind of table or in a graphical
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Apart from the entering of budget/forecast numbers, many of these systems are
basically reporting systems. While these reports are great for telling us what
happened, they are of limited value when it comes to managing the business.
The reason is:
They tell us what happened but tells us nothing about the actions or the
relationships that produced them.
They are predominantly about the past and provide little or no information about
what needs to happen in the future.
They are an accounting-based view of the world -- and not directly related to the
activities of operational managers -- activities that determine future results.
And finally, there is no way of knowing from this report if strategy is being
executed or even how successful it has been in generating the results obtained.
What they lack is the ability of senior
management to communicate
organizational objectives and high level
strategies to which operational managers
can build tactical plans that have a clear
'cause and affect' relationship to those
Kaplan and Norton in their follow-up book to The Balanced Scorecard The
Strategy Focused Organization said this about management systems.
"Organizations need a new kind of management system -- one explicitly
designed to manage strategy ..."
This is what the Ackinas CPM solution is, it is a Strategy Management
System, in fact the first solution to integrate Performance management with
Process management, Risk management and Activity based management
(Scenario Planning and cost management)
Managing performance is all about planning and managing the activities that support
strategic goals. To manage the business, we need answers to these questions while
What are we trying to achieve?
How are we going to achieve the goals?
What actions need to take place?
Who is going to be responsible?
How 'balanced' is the plan in terms of business perspectives and priorities?
Can the current plan be implemented in the timescale set?
And as the plan goes into operation we need answers to:
How well did the plan work?
Were the tactical plans implemented?
How successful were the tactics at achieving strategic goals?
How did individuals contribute to the creation of shareholder value?
How did the individual units contribute to the success of the plan?
What would be the impact if some tactics are not completely implemented?
From a management perspective, there are a number of methodologies that
can help organizations formulate, communicate and then monitor strategy. These
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methodologies move away from managing the business from an accounting view and
instead focus on activities that support strategic goals.
They do this by translating strategy into an action plan that can be measured and
monitored. These action plans are typically organized into 'cause and effect' which is
important as it allows organizations to plan by considering actions and their affect on
strategic goals. The Balanced Scorecard methodology breaks down the enterprise
vision and mission into strategic objectives that can be categorized in various
perspectives. Theoretically, there are 4 perspectives -- financial, customer, internal
process, and learning and growth -- which are used to make sure that the plan
covers all areas of the business that are essential for its survival.
The Ackinas Software solutions are designed specifically for the corporate
development, communication and monitoring of strategy. They enable senior
management to define corporate objectives and overall strategies, to which
operational management can then build supporting tactical plans to achieve those
Once built, the plan can be assessed for overall 'cause and effect' viability and can
be modified as required throughout the year. The tools have very innovative and
intuitive ways of communicating and visualizing the plan. The tools combine the
numerical reporting of budgets and management reports with an intuitive way of
visualizing the actions that support those results. In so doing the tools are able to
provide answers to questions that traditional budgets and reports typically cannot
answer. Answers such as: What actions are needed to produce the desired results;
what actions actually took place, and were those actions effective.
The Ackinas software tools provide a clear linkage between
strategic goals and detailed operational plans
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The system comes with a range of reports that allow plans to be viewed from
multiple perspectives. These reports show whether the plan is working and the status
of individual tactics. They show the effect that those tactics have on achieving
corporate goals and allows those accountable to see how well they are performing.
In addition to the 'cause and affect' relationships, the 'plan objects' can hold a
range of information including start and end dates, the person responsible for
delivering the goal, notes, attachments and 'drill-thru' linkages to traditional reports
In summary, the Ackinas CPM tool focuses on 'cause and effect' relationships is
set to change the way management formulate, plan and monitor strategy. We provide
management with an effective tool in which to manage corporate performance.
« Process Management is managing systematic continuous improvement of
processes in order to create added value and benefits for the customer and
other stakeholders. »
Process Management is about improving profitability while at the same time
improving quality, and therefore also customer satisfaction. Many organizations
suffer from the following 2 major illnesses:
• The individual workers have lost sight of the customer: they tend to work for their
boss, or for their colleague, but they are not aware anymore of the value, or non-
value, that they create for their business’ customers; especially in larger
organizations, the customer focus was lost over the years.
• The individual workers do their work in a given way, because they have always
done it that way; it is amazing to see how most people don’t know how their job
fits in the larger picture; not many people in an organization have an end-to-end
overview of the business processes they are working in.
Process Management tries to remedy the 2 challenges:
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• It puts the customer back into focus, by first identifying him, and then measuring
• It questions the way things happen in the process to eliminate all inefficiencies
and measuring the progress;
Any organization can increase the
satisfaction of its customers and
increase the profitability of the
company by applying these
principles to all of its processes.
When an organization pursues
these objectives consistently for all
its processes, it creates a long-
term value that goes beyond the
immediate objective of higher quality and higher profitability.
Intelligent Business Management is characterized by:
Definition of improvement objectives in line with the overall strategy;
Definition of measures in line with the overall strategy;
Company wide process improvement exercises; all processes must pass the test;
Management decisions based on feed-forward mechanisms that use the objectives
and actual measures from the processes;
Use of Active Scorecards down to the individual level, linked to personal objectives;
Process Management streamlines
operations and makes the whole
corporation more efficient, by
documenting business processes to
drive high quality and operational
efficiency. Continuous process
analysis and improvements
strengthens the competitive
advantages of your organization.
QPR ProcessGuide is an easy to use, multi-level process management tool. It allows
an unlimited number of users to create and maintain process models, then publish
models as dynamic web pages.
To make processes even more informative, users can attach information items to
process maps. This gives the user the ability not only to access the graphical process
maps, but also to view and download documents, follow Internet hyperlinks, and
open third party software. QPR ProcessGuide is a knowledge management system –
collecting vital corporate information in one place for functional, strategic, and tactical
QPR ProcessGuide also provides powerful analysis and simulation capabilities.
Simulating processes helps streamline operations and efficiently allocate resources –
saving time and money.
Scenario Planning/Cost Control
The need for company cost reduction has increased considerably due to
strong (global) competition. This is also the case in public organizations where
pressure on the budget has increased considerably. Manpower and operating cost
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reductions are the classical elements that have been executed by most
organizations. The quest for innovative solutions to improve cost control and create
reliable budgets and forecasts is growing.
Costs cannot be controlled as such. Costs are derived from processes and
activities executed by the organization.
Many organizations yet present monthly financial reports showing the
classical P/L cost elements like the cost of personnel, accommodation, energy,
maintenance, IT, et cetera. But how can we use this information to manage these
costs in the future? To what extend can we really influence the costs as presented in
the monthly reports?
The best way to cut costs is to
look at the processes involved and
analyze what can be improved in order
to improve efficiency. Organizing the
transparency between processes, the
alternatives, the related costs and
revenues is the way to achieve an
optimal result. The best result can be
achieved if external processes
(customer/supplier process) are involved Status Reques t
in the analyses, when you address C ustomer ‘facing’
How can each process contribute to success and how
• How does the way the customers are the processes interrelated.
behave or their specific requirements
influence my profitability; what should we re-negotiate and what will be the
• What do we earn with what products or customers or combination of the two;
80% of the profit is earned with 20% of the customers, products or combination;
• In case we change the way we create a service / product or alter the composition,
what will be the effect on profitability?
Ackinas’ approach makes it possible to answer these questions. The processes
can be changed and at the same time the effect on value creation is clarified. This
way management can concentrate on adapting the processes both in operational
(forecasting) as in strategic discussions (scenario-building). Activity based costing is
realized by pulling costs from the customers / products instead of pushing costs from
cost items to products (the traditional ABC). This is also referred to as Activity based
Budgeting and Activity based Management.
QPR CostControl is powerful and flexible Activity Based Costing/Management
(ABC/M) software tool. QPR CostControl has been developed in co-operation with
numerous world class organizations and universities in order to guarantee its
usability and performance in modeling and analyzing costs and actions in all kinds of
QPR CostControl’s advanced analysis capabilities provide you with the relevant
information in a customized, easy to understand structured format. Drill-down
functions provide a directly traceable means of analyzing and acting on cause and
effect relationships in your organization, from the activities that were performed
through to the resources utilized. In addition, a full validation report ensures the
quality and confidence in the information.
By simulating results at different production volumes you can discover how your
resource costs change, the maximum volumes for the resources and how the
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resource-usage in the activities change. Simulating different scenarios with QPR
CostControl helps preparation for the future.
QPR CostControl has been used
successfully in the following
• Pricing of upcoming products
• Product profitability analysis
• Customer and distribution
channel profitability analysis
• Activity and resource
• Budgeting and forecasting
The primary objective of risk management is to identify the actions required to
maximize likelihood of achieving organizational objectives. The objectives for
‘performance management’ are very similar, though emphasis is different: ‘good
things’ vs ‘bad things’
Similarities suggest that there is value in integrating processes to manage
performance and risk. The foundation must be a robust strategic control/
performance management system, where Risk is only one element that managers
Risks are possible sources of uncertainty that might have a material impact on the
company they occur. Most of them are identifiable and can be mitigated if properly
managed. Potential risks are:
• Legal, political and regulatory issues
• Shareholder relations
• The effects of competition
• Management competence
• Health and safety
• Product development
• Staff fraud
• Company reputation
• Financial aspects of running a
These strategic and operational risks can be linked to processes and integrated in
the performance management
through Key Risk indicators.
Through processes the costs of
preventing and handling risks
can be made explicit. Risk
management by itself contains
actions to prevent risks and how
to react upon in case they occur.
Risk management increases the
predictability of the companies’
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BWise Operational Risk Management
BWise launched a complete solution for setting up and managing an ORM
environment. Everything leads directly
to lower operational risks and
significant efficiency savings.
The main operational risks that can
lead to losses are human error, fraud,
late actions, conflict of interests,
exceeding of authority or unethical
and risky actions. Other aspects of
operational risk include natural
disasters or major failures in IT systems. BWise ORM helps companies to control
and/or avoid losses in relationship with operational
BWise Compliance Control provides an integrated
solution that provides an environment, which supports
all parts of Compliance. Starting with Compliance
Mapping (rules, regulation and organization), risk
management, reporting and management and control
of improvement plans. The Bwise risk management
• Risk Assessment Definition
• Predefined Key risk indicators and key performance indicators definition
• Multi-dimensional risk reporting
• Risk mitigation: definition and control of improvement projects
• Risk Monitoring
• Loss database
• Audit Management
• Change Management
• Release Management
Characteristics of CPM Systems
CPM systems have the following characteristics:
1. Complete integration. The Ackinas CPM system encompasses strategy
formulation/communication and monitoring, planning, budgeting, forecasting,
process management, risk management, balanced scorecard reporting, and
analysis, and treats them as a single, continuous process.
2. Enterprise-wide. The Ackinas CPM system is extensible across the company.
The system is web based, making it possible for users to work from anywhere at
3. Focus on exceptions. The Ackinas CPM system accommodates the reporting
and analysis of both financial and non-financial data. The system focuses users'
attention on the unanticipated by highlighting and proactively alerting them to
4. Automate the processing of data. The Ackinas CPM system automates the
processing of ratios, allocations and the consolidation of results.
5. Filter and format data. The Ackinas CPM system summarizes large volumes of
data and presents it in a form that is easily understood for the purpose.
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6. Provide end users with access to information. The Ackinas CPM system
exploits the web and provides secure user access to any relevant information
such as timetables, assumptions, comments, strategy, tactical plans, critical
success factors, Key Performance Indicators, Key Risk Indicators, reports,
analyses, actual, and forecast results. Information is easy to access and navigate
7. Support collaboration. The Ackinas CPM system is designed to allow users to
collaborate with colleagues no matter where they are or what time it is.
8. Provide insight. The Ackinas CPM system links to strong analytical capabilities
such as trend analysis, sorting, charting, and exception reporting, transforming
data into insight.
9. Automate monitoring of vital signs. The Ackinas CPM system, can search
underlying details on a continuous basis and proactively warn users when
exceptions occur without a user ever having to look at a report.
By combining these characteristics, The Ackinas CPM application becomes a
powerful management system. It allows executives to assess and communicate
strategy; provide operational management with tools for developing effective plans;
and give end users instructions and knowledge on how to perform their roles in
Although CPM systems may improve efficiency, they cannot ensure effectiveness by
themselves. They are only as good as the methodology, metrics, and processes that
Modular practical approach
Managers have two tasks: Formulate and communicate the strategy and oversee the
execution of the strategy. Within these tasks we define 4 areas of attention:
Processes, costs, risks and people (a part of which is performance measurement).
Ackinas has developed a modular approach to CPM. It starts with projects
that answer to the discussions at hand whether they are the strategy formulation and
translation to actions, the process management, the risk management, cost
management of performance management (e.g. balanced scorecard).
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The projects last about 2 months and deliver tangible results. The project can
be completed with other light projects depending on the aspiration of management.
So the above described CPM can be implemented stepwise. In doing so Ackinas
believes maturity level 5 can be reached without it being a burden for the operation.
Ackinas has developed a maturity
test, which is available on request. 1. Strategy Formulation
This test allows you to discover 12. Compensation
2. Strategy Communication
where your organization stands, and 11. Budgeting of Initiatives
3. Strategy Implementation
which elements of CPM should be 2,0
implemented first, so that your 10. Cost Control 0,0 4. Process Management
company can gradually grow to the
highest maturity level on all 9. Risk Management 5. Reporting Perspectives
elements of CPM. 8. Indicator Communication 6. Types of Process Indicators
7. Perf ormance Evaluation
The power of integrating processes, costs, risk and
measurement in strategy and execution.
• Your processes are fully in control and optimized with regard to costs and risks;
• Your ambition can be brought in line with the available capacity, possible
financing, and the potential risks are in control;
• You can play with scenario’s and have a structured and transparent view of the
effects on processes, profitability, risks and performance management of each
• You can steer your business through scorecards avoiding piles of paper in
And imagine you can realize this through:
• Short and effective projects starting with a subject that will immediately create
value for your organization;
• Pragmatic, complementary coaching, where your own people stay in the driving
• Low risk, high motivation and effect on the organization and
• No army of consultants, no soup of theories and models and no piles of reports.
Then you are imagining the service of Ackinas, using
1. well structured methodologies supported by
2. integrated software tools
3. a modular approach with isolated yet dependent projects leading to
4. a realistic plan for the organization to reach the highest maturity level.
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