New forum addresses corporate accountability

If you're an exec, you're probably more accountable for more things than you ever have been. A new, nonprofit organization aims to help you meet these new responsibilities head-on.

Accountability –- it accounts for a lot of stress in corporate America. From keeping Uncle Sam to shareholders

to the CEO happy, more and more business executives are finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to answer to just about everybody for just about everything.

But a new organization is trying massage away some of that stress –- with some 1,750 fingers.

Citing a need for more corporate accountability and better business performance, 175 business leaders and experts have formed the nonprofit Business Performance Management (BPM) Forum. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based group's goal is to help companies keep their noses clean, their bottom lines black, and everyone satisfied across the board. How? By calling attention to the latest management practices, technologies and ideas for financial management, business performance and government compliance.

The forum's roster sports a wealth of wealth and experience. Members of the independent advisory board, which will lead the forum, include executives from IBM, Verizon and PepsiCo, as well as the former CEO of Apple, business professors and the former chief economist of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Forum members define BPM as an up-and-coming technology discipline that helps firms turn strategies into plans, keep an eye on how those plans are carried out, and provide insight to improve financial and operational performance. When BPM works, it helps to shape business outcomes and improve decision making. It also helps companies adapt to market changes and keeps shareholders from being unpleasantly surprised.

Advisory board members believe the Enron and WorldCom accounting scandals have combined with shareholder losses, financial unpredictability and the need for better business results to make BPM the top corporate challenge in the U.S. and a C-level issue at many companies around the world.

BPM Forum advisory board member Gil Amelio, former CEO of Apple and National Semiconductor, said the group will help companies take the issue by the horns.

"By building upon a vast array of executive experience and real-world customer interaction, we [the BPM Forum Advisory Board] intend to help impart direction and thought leadership in performance accountability to global organizations," he said in a statement.

Hal Sirkin, board member and senior vice president of leading global operations and e-commerce at Boston Consulting Group, said that the forum will give C-level execs a heads up on what to expect in this new era of accountability.

"They're going to be asked a bunch of questions they've never been asked before, and they're going to have to have answers," he told SearchCIO.com. The forum will help them with those answers.

According to the mission statement on the group's Web site, the BPM Forum will educate global organizations and increase BPM's role in strategic decision making; develop and share cutting-edge BPM thought leadership, content, best practices, and experiences; and help senior executives meet the demands for performance accountability.

A survey conducted by Hyperion Solutions Corp., which helped get the BPM Forum off the ground, underscores the need for such an organization. The survey of corporate board members showed that about 60% are not happy with the accuracy of their companies' financial forecasts.

The BPM Forum will publish or co-publish studies, white papers and other materials produced by its members. The information will appear on the organization's Web site, www.bpmforum.org.

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