How to Plan a Network for Corporate Performance Management

Monitoring your company's performance in today's 24/7 world is more complex and more critical than ever. Accomplishing this requires careful planning, appropriate management and proper systems design. Sanjay Beri of Juniper Networks explains the basics.

By: Sanjay Beri


Most senior executives can remember a time when performance management meant reviewing a thick stack of financials once a month, then heading down to sales or the shop floor for some hard-nosed problem solving. Those days are gone forever. Today's corporate performance issues crop up:

Everywhere-no longer the domain of headquarters offices, opportunities and constraints emerge from deep inside customer-facing application servers, or in branch offices nine time zones away.

All the time-monthly or even daily reports show where a business has been, often too late to influence where it's going.

From every source-financials remain essential, but careful managers keep an eye on supply chain throughput, employee absenteeism, lead-to-order conversion and a hundred other metrics of their company's performance.

Faced with challenges like these, lightning-fast competitive assaults and new regulatory demands, companies are arming themselves with CPM (Corporate Performance Management) solutions-whole-company quantitative management systems that combine the rigor of financial analytics, the precision of operational dashboards and the scope and speed of electronic networks.

CPM links departments and locations throughout planning, execution and assessment cycles to keep strategies aligned and put business intelligence and decision-making capabilities where the business needs them.

Yet be warned, these CPM systems can tax the capabilities of networks designed for a simpler time. By definition, these solutions span the organization from the shop floor and IT server farm to the most distant mobile worker. The scope, scale and sensitivity of the information they manage places new demands on networks for:

Breadth and integration-corporate intelligence and decision making connects headquarters and branch offices, including temporary connections by customers, mobile workers, partners and consultants, auditors and more. CPM means what it says; any exceptions to universal coverage fall short.

Flexibility and scalability-growth and change are universals, too. CPM, and the networks that support it, must accommodate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, and changes in personnel and partnerships, along with major rollouts to support new markets and initiatives.

Availability and performance-information-driven organizations require enormous volumes of data, available around the world any time of the day or night. Service interruptions are unacceptable, and performance bottlenecks that throttle the flow of vital information are little better.

Security-CPM exists to put business-critical information on corporate networks. It goes without saying that those networks must have unassailable security. Today's porous networks, with temporary connections by partners, contractors and visitors present a significant challenge but one that must be met.

None of these challenges should stop, or even delay, implementation of a company's planned CPM initiatives, because the alternatives are worse.

Poorly informed business processes raise costs and risks, alienate employees and customers, and stifle innovation and competitiveness. Instead, managers implementing or considering CPM solutions for their company should include network planning and a thorough review of network security as early in the cycle as possible. Networks designed to the stringent requirements of CPM provide a single view of enterprise status and direction to every location and stakeholder, and build a solid foundation for IT and business excellence.

Just as no CPM solution is right for every business, no network infrastructure is right for every solution. But with early, careful attention to network requirements, companies can build a high-performance network infrastructure that avoids many predictable CPM project crises and delays, as well as executive and end-user disappointment in project deliverables. The following elements from the world of Network Planning have the greatest impact on the success of CPM initiatives: