Chiquita Slips, but Does Not Fall

The inside story of a problem-plagued financial system overhaul that just might work.

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Selling the Business on BPM

Mullaney faced several challenges to the BPM initiative right from the start. The business units already had their own tools and ways of doing things and saw no reason to change. They viewed the BPM initiative as something that would benefit only the corporate finance group.

In addition, migrating to a centrally managed BPM platform would require extensive and potentially disruptive changes to existing business processes. Considerable time and effort would be required to understand, document and redesign those processes before the system could be fully designed and built. And with budgets lean, FP&A needed to rely on assistance from people within each line of business to get the job done.

"It's a difficult project to lead when it's global and when people were OK with what they were doing," Mullaney says. So she committed to making sure there was something in it for each line of business. That meant providing lots of financial detail in the system and "allowing folks to do an extremely granular analysis by line of business," says Xena Ugrinsky, a senior vice president at Titan Technology Partners LLC, the Charlotte, N.C.-based integrator that designed, built and now hosts the system.

But there was a downside to that approach. "It added a lot of complexity and resource coordination," says Mullaney.

Singh was skeptical. He'd been down that road three times, the first two at other companies. Each time, he says, Hyperion sold to the finance group and bypassed IT, which was called in to support the project after contracts were signed. "That immediately sets one up for conflict," he says.

For each project, he says, Hyperion and its consultants underestimated the complexity of the project, overpromised and ultimately underdelivered. Hyperion is a state-of-the art tool, but its complexity can't be overstated, Singh says. "This is always the case with Hyperion. It's so difficult to get one's arms around the complexity of the product as well as the process changes that go along with an implementation like this."

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