1. Learning from the best: an interview with Dr. Robert Camp

    July 12, 2010 by

     

    Dr. Robert Camp

     

    If benchmarking today is an established business practice, much of the credit goes to the efforts of Dr Robert C Camp, lifetime president of the Global Benchmarking Network (GBN), principal of the Best Practice Institute, US, and the man known around the world as the guru of benchmarking. Dr Camp was in Mumbai in June for the 2nd GBN Benchmarking Roadshow organised by BestPrax Club (India) and Benchmarking Partnerships (Australia).

    Based in Ithaca, New York, Dr Camp works with government agencies, non-profit organisations, educational institutions and many large domestic and international manufacturing and service firms. He has written three books – Benchmarking: The Search for Industry Best Practices that Lead to Superior Performance, Business Process Benchmarking: Finding and Implementing Best Practices and Global Cases in Benchmarking: Best Practices from Organisations Around the World along with dozens of articles on the subject. His first and best-selling book on benchmarking has been translated into 14 languages.

    Vivek Dev (from domain-b.com) spoke to Dr Camp on various aspects of benchmarking during his recent visit to Mumbai.

    1- Tell us about your personal experience with benchmarking. How were you initiated into the process?
    I started with benchmarking when I was at Xerox Corporation. At the time, benchmarking was a fairly new improvement process and I was asked by my manager to implement it in the logistics function. 

    2- Why should companies benchmark? What does benchmarking achieve?
    Benchmarking is an experience where you can learn from others who have solved a problem you are trying to solve. As they have gone through the experience and implemented improvement processes, this learning can be used as the basis for improving one's organisation through internal, competitive, functional or generic benchmarking.
    Any organisation can improve provided it is willing to improve. One can almost be assured that the organisation will get value out of the benchmarking exercise.

    3- How should a benchmarking investigation be carried?
    There is a defined process for carrying out benchmarking. First, you decide what to benchmark, and then decide whom you benchmark against. Next, you gather the information, conduct the analysis, and define the process(es) for best practices search. The benchmarking process is best facilitated with help from a professional benchmarking expert who can act as a guide or mentor. Often, a knowledgeable librarian can offer valuable inputs for information search.

    4- Identifying a candidate list for benchmarking is comparable to laying the foundation of an organisation. What factors are considered while putting together a candidate list?
    Most of the time people in various functions have a pretty good idea of superior practices in other organisations, so that knowledge is already there in the organisation. People in particular functions, say, logistics, know from various sources, say, trade journals, peers, etc, on how things are done in other organisations. By putting together the knowledge thus available, a list can be prepared.

    5- What is the significance of benchmarking in the operations and growth of an organisation? How does it positively impact organisations?
    Benchmarking is a fairly fast way to improve and a very powerful way to justify funding. People have been known to achieve significant results with benchmarking in a short time.

    6- Is benchmarking relevant across industries (marketing, manufacturing, administrative support, finance and personnel functions)? Can lessons learnt from one be applicable to another? Please give an example.
    In certain processes, lessons can be learnt across industries. Typically, there are three types of functions in industry – management, support and operations. While management and support function processes have much in common across industries, the function process of operations is unique to industries. For example, support function processes such as in HR or IT can be benchmarked across industries.

    7- What role does benchmarking play in innovation? Can you elaborate?
    Benchmarking is a necessary ingredient in innovation. Firstly, it is necessary to benchmark the extent of the innovation focus through a search. Defining the standard or benchmark is in itself a creative process so innovation and benchmarking are concepts that are interlinked from the very start.
    Secondly, combining the creative and innovative talents of the innovation team members with the insights gained through benchmarking is a powerful and often revealing experience and may markedly improve the result. Further, the actual process of people going through the exercise opens their minds and brings about new ideas and thinking.
    Benchmarking is a critical tool for how you run your business. It is a strategic strength when practiced and a fatal weakness if not pursued.

    8- The term best practices is widely used in every stream of business (particularly, insurance, banking and mutual funds) and not-for-profit-enterprises. Does this have any connection with benchmarking?
    It is the essence of benchmarking. Benchmarking is a process of finding and implementing best practices. It is the desired output of the benchmarking process. It is only through an understanding of best practices that the way to improvement is revealed.
    The process of identifying, understanding and adapting superior practices from organisations locally and worldwide, within and outside the industry, helps an organisation improve its performance and achieve priority business results.

    9- What would you say is the value proposition of benchmarking?
    I would say 'quick learning to improve'. The important aspect here is 'quick learning'.

    10- When and why did you establish the GBN? Does it have a presence in India?
    The objective of the GBN, established in 1994, is to have benchmarking competency centres around the globe so that assistance with benchmarking is available locally, and so it can be adapted to local conditions. In India, the GBN is represented by the BestPrax Club, Mumbai, founded by Suresh Lulla.

    11- If Indian organisations have to leapfrog into the global arena, can the GBN help in finding benchmarking partners?
    The experience of the GBN member organisations would substantiate that finding. Every gathering of those interested in benchmarking, including the recent GBN Roadshow and Executive Briefing, should be used as an opportunity to establish potential partners.

    12- With your wealth of experience, how do you visualise India 2020?
    A sage person once said, ''I hesitate to make predictions especially when it involves the future!'' I would leave the details of 2020 to the economists and others more knowledgeable of the particulars in India. I would trust however that India would continue to pursue its competitiveness through ''best practice'' benchmarking.

    About Dr Robert Camp: Principal, Best Practices Institute, talks on the various aspects of benchmarking in an interview with Vivek Dev

    Source:
    http://www.domain-b.com/people/interviews/20100629_robert_camp.html
    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Features/Corporate-Dossier/Benchmarking-with-best-practices-outside-industry-works/articleshow/6116117.cms?curpg=1


  2. Benchmarking in year 2030, any idea how it will look like?

    June 1, 2010 by
     
    Future of Benchmarking
    The Global Benchmarking Network is embarking on a project to look at the future for Benchmarking up to the year 2030. This project will take into account new technologies and social networking opportunities as well as issues such as global financial crises, governance, political, social and environmental trends and changing natural characteristics.  However the project also needs to look well beyond the current issues.

    Any inputs would be greatly appreciated.

    This project will answer the following questions – What will Benchmarking look like in 2030 – and in between? What are the tools, methodologies and technologies that Benchmarkers can use now to help organisations and economies to improve their outcomes? The main outcome will be to report on results of a  Roundtable at end 2010 – as part of the Dubai GBN AGM and Annual Conference.

    The project will investigate the use of benchmarking and the future use of benchmarking techniques: It will connect Benchmarking experts with people from politics, science and companies and discuss the use and future use of benchmarking (e.g. survey, roundtable discussion, delphi study). Key parties to the proposal are Bruce Searles, Benchmarking Partnerships (project leader), Dr Robin Mann, bpir.com and Dr Holger Kohl, Fraunhofer.

    Best wishes,

    Bruce Searles
    Director
    Benchmarking Partnerships


  3. 16 companies present their best practices at BestPrax Conclave 2010

    May 10, 2010 by admin

    Another fascinating event organised by the Indian GBN member BestPrax Club, over the two days of the Conclave 2010 the BestPrax Club held the “Benchmarking aspects of Business Excellence” at Mumbai where 16 teams from manufacturing and services organisations  such Hindalco Industries, Yes Bank, Grasim Industries, Tata Power and others shared more than  30 best practices they developed and implemented in their organisations to successfully drive excellence in their operations.

     

     best practices Conclave 2010            best practices at BestPrax Conclave 2010

    best practices at BestPrax Conclave 2010

    Media press release:

    The Best Prax Club’s Conclave 2010 on ‘Benchmarking aspects of Business Excellence’ held at the Taj President on 28 and 29 April drew an enthusiastic response from professionals engaged in promoting business excellence across a wide spectrum of Indian manufacturing and service industry.The conclave focused on leadership and strategic planning covering the theoretical underpinnings of the benchmarking practice as also the ‘hands on’ field experience and expertise gained by various organisations through the best practices. These included diverse groups representing the academia, healthcare, mining, manufacturing, consumer products, insurance, banking and other domains.

    Setting the context for the conclave, Suresh Lulla, founder and director, BestPrax Club India, dwelt on the evolution of the concept of quality over time, starting with the consumer’s expectation of better quality of the goods/services he purchased to better quality at less cost to better and cheaper plus faster delivery to the current quality paradigm of better, cheaper, faster and different offerings. Emphasising that consumers were no longer looking for clones of established product and service offerings but rather offerings that incorporated the wow factor, which innovation alone could best deliver, he said, this called for integrating the key core value of ‘managing for innovation’ in fostering performance excellence. Innovation itself would involve ideation which would come from ‘Cross industry benchmarking’ involving knowledge mining and bench marking survey.

    Robin Mann, chairman, Global Benchmarking Network, offered an overview of the global benchmarking network and its activities and projects across 22 member countries. He said the current use of improvement techniques involved Informal benchmarking (68 per cent of organisations), Performance benchmarking (49 per cent) and Best practice benchmarking (39 per cent), according to a study conducted in 2008 by the Global Benchmarking Network (GBN). The study also showed an average financial return of $100,000 to $125,000 per best practice benchmarking project with over 20 per cent reaping benefits of more than $250,000 per project.

    Elaborating on the theme, Bruce Searles, director- business development, GBN and managing partner, Benchmarking Partnerships, Australia, explained what constituted business excellence and how implementing a benchmarking framework could help organisations deliver improved and sustainable business results.

    Following the proceedings on the opening day, the second day of the conclave saw 16 teams from organisations across manufacturing and service sectors, including banks, health care providers, heavy industry, utilities etc share 10 best practices they developed and implemented in their organisations to successfully drive excellence in their operations.

    Hindalco Industries, Mumbai with the vision to emerge as a premium metals major, global in size and reach with a passion for excellence outlined the 10 best practices implemented in the organisation, including fostering a culture of transparency and integrity with external and internal customers, unleashing employee potential, nurturing a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

    Yes Bank, which pursues a brand strategy to build one of the finest financial brands in the India, has set its vision of being recongised as the Best Quality Bank of the World in India. The bank nurtures values of growth, trust, technology, knowledge driven human capital, transparency and responsible banking and aims to champion the “Responsible Banking” in India where the concepts of corporate social responsibility and sustainability are integrated in the DNA of the organisation. The 10 best practices the bank has implemented include leveraging technology for workforce empowerment, innovative recruitment and onboarding practices, total outsourcing and co-creation of value and mobile banking.

    Grasim Industries’ white cement division manufactures white cement, wall care putty, and a range of surface preparation products. The company’s vision is to emerge as the most preferred supplier of quality products in the category and to achieve sales revenues in excess of RS1,000 crore. The company has instituted various best practices, including a knowledge integration programme, vision formulation, creativity index, benchmarking 100 companies and a leadership driven innovation culture. The company seeks to inculcate values of integrity, commitment, passion, seamlessness and speed through the organisation.

    Tata Power is engaged in power generation, transmission, distribution and trading in power, fuel and fuel logistics with transmission lines and distribution network being the delivery mechanisms. The company envision’s emerging as the most admired integrated power and energy company delivering sustainable value to all stakeholders, with a strategic intent of generation 25,000 MW by 2017. The company has adopted creation of sustainability mindset, organisational excellence through TBEM, multirater process and Tata Power Energy Club as some of the best practices for driving excellence.

    ACC- Gagal Cement Works produces Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) 43 Grade and Portland Pozzolana Cement (PPC) with 98% of its output being blended cement, ie, PPC, which is an eco-friendly and durable cement. The company’s vision is to be one of the most respected companies in India recognised for challenging conventions and delivering on its promises. The company has implemented a slew of best practices, including sharing of best practices among sister works, promoting cost consciousness among employees, afforestation, and ACC Ashwamedh among others.

    Sterlite Industries (SIL) manufactures copper cathodes of LME grade ‘A’ and copper rods as its main products. The company’s vision is to be the worlds’ leading copper producer delivering sustainable value to all stakeholders by leveraging technology and best practices. Among the best practices implemented at SIL are SPIDER, Management Assurance Services, Project Parivartan and Total Quality Management.

    PT. Elegant Textile Industry & PT Indo Liberty Textiles, Indonesia produce 100% rayon, polyester and rayon/polyester blended spun yarn. The company has a mission to deliver superior value to customers, shareholders and employees and envisions emerging as a leading producer and exporter of premium quality man-made fiber spun yarn globally. Best practices implemented at the company include two-way communications, knowledge management, SAP, re-engineering, quality function deployment

    Hindustan Zinc’s Lead Zinc Complex is the largest zinc and lead production facility in the world. It envisions emerging as a world class company creating value, leveraging mineral resources and related core competencies. The company’s mission is to be the lowest cost zinc producer on a global scale and maintaining market leadership. The best practices at the company include integrated water management approach, transparency and reporting on corporate governance, triple bottom line among others.

    Aditya Birla Chemicals, Palamu, produces caustic soda lye, liquid chlorine, hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite, anhydrous aluminum chloride. The company’s vision is to emerge as the benchmark in chlor alkali industry with clear focus on each business process. Ancillarisation, CSR activities through Jan Sewa Trust of ABCIL, Group Synergy for strategic are some of the best practices being followed at the company.

    ITC- SBU, Packaging & Printing Division, services both domestic and export markets and supplies packaging solutions to various industry segments, including food and beverage, consumer electronics etc. The unit envisions emerging as the most preferred supplier and key marketing partner for all customers and has implemented Triple Bottom Line Approach, Green Packaging, constant innovation and continuous learning among other initiatives as best practices.

    Sesa Goa is India’s largest exporter of iron ore in the private sector and is majority owned and controlled by Vedanta Resources Plc, a London listed FTSE 100 diversified metals and mining company. Sesa Goa has three major inter-related business segments – iron ore, met coke and pig iron. With the vision of emerging as one of the top four iron ore mining companies in the world, the company strives to foster values of entrepreneurship, growth, excellence, trust and sustainability. Among the company’s 10 best practices are initiatives such as Energy Recovery Technology, Knowledge Sharing and Management, Nurturing Young Talent and JOSH Improvement Scheme.

    Castrol is engaged in manufacturing and marketing of automotive, industrial and marine and energy lubricants and counts Castrol Edge, Castrol Activ, Castrol Tection Globa, Castrol Hyspin, Castrol Cyltech 70 among the brand leaders. The company’s mission is to be a global differentiated player focusing on material and sustainable markets leveraging its brand strength, consumer/customer relationships through a cost disciplined approach and some of the best practices it has implemented to drive operational excellence are Brand Management, Individual Performance Management, Innovation, Road Safety, Self Advocacy and Self Certification.

    P D Hinduja National Hospital and MRC is engaged in healthcare delivery in personalised form either in the hospital or at home in an ethical way, respecting the dignity of the patient. The hospital’s vision is to deliver quality healthcare and the organisation strives to foster the values of Work to Give, Work is Bond, Act Local & Think Global, Partnership for Growth, Advance Fearlessly. The hospital has adopted a number of best practices, including Innovation in Healthcare, Six Sigma, Value Enhancement Strategies and Performance Review Mechanism.

    Eureka Forbes envisages a happy, healthy, safe and pollution-free world built on lasting relations. Eureka Forbes manufactures and markets products that provide solutions for water purification, cleaning technology, air purification, and security of domestic and commercial establishments. The company’s mission is to build sustainable relationships with customers by satisfying their evolving health, hygiene, safety and lifestyle needs. Among the best practices it has implemented to drive excellence are rewards and recognition, Euro Business Partner, EuroSenate, Product & Service improvements from Customer Insights.

    DAV Public School delivers educational services through mechanisms, including classroom instruction, books provided by the school and other learning resources like library and laboratories. The school’s stated vision is to produce academically accomplished students equipped with competencies to enable the country to be counted as the world leader in human, intellectual and financial capital. The Best Practices at DAV Public School are Building Social  Capital,  Internal Audit Process, Legal and Ethical Behaviour and Internal Benchmarking of Icons/Leaders among others.

    ICICI Prudential Life Insurance is engaged in offering life insurance, retirement solutions, health insurance, and group insurance. The company envisages emerging as the leading life, health and pension player building on trust. The values the company strives to foster are Customer First, Ownership, Passion and Integrity and counts Business Case for MIS, Business Case for Sales force Automation, TATVA among its Best Practices initiatives for driving excellence.


  4. Benchmarking presentations on You Tube

    January 28, 2010 by

    Over the last year, I have been busy running benchmarking workshops in Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Singapore and the United Kingdom. The training addresses the misconceptions surrounding benchmarking and aims to increase the professionalism of benchmarking through a certification scheme.

    Through my research and experience it is evident that many organisations have misunderstood benchmarking or applied it incorrectly with poor results. In one of COER’s recent studies on behalf of the Global Benchmarking Network we identified that:
    • 25% of respondents that used benchmarking had not been trained in benchmarking and another 30% of respondents indicated that “only a few of the employees had received training or that training was rarely given”.
    • 30% of respondents that used benchmarking do not follow a particular benchmarking methodology when conducting benchmarking projects.
    • 25% of respondents do not follow (or rarely follow) a benchmarking code of conduct when undertaking a benchmarking project.
    • 30% of respondents “do not, rarely, or sometimes” develop a project brief for their benchmarking project specifying the aim, scope, sponsor, and members of the benchmarking team – thus indicating poor project planning.
    • 35% of respondents do not (or rarely) undertake a cost and benefits analysis of the project once it is completed.
    The methodology that I promote is the TRADE best practice benchmarking methodology. TRADE focuses on the exchange (or” trade”) of information and best practices to improve the performance of processes, goods and services. Use of this methodology, and its prescriptive approach, ensures that benchmarking projects:

    a) are focused on key areas of importance

    b) have the buy-in of key stakeholders at each and every step of the project

    c) are conducted professionally using a sound research approach
    d) deliver results. After each stage of TRADE, the project is reviewed to ensure it is on-track. If it is not on-track, the project can be stopped or the direction of the project changed.

    TRADE significantly increases the likelihood that best practices will be found, often resulting in breakthrough improvements. On average, as identified in COER’s study, successful benchmarking projects produce a return of more than US$250,000 – therefore it is well worth investing the time in learning and adopting a proven methodology.

    To help organisations learn more about benchmarking, COER has just launched a series of You Tube videos on benchmarking showing snippets from a presentation I gave at the Business Excellence Global Conference in Singapore:

    1. A benchmarking example from the health sector

    2. What is benchmarking?

    3. TRADE best practice benchmarking and certification Part 1
     
    4. TRADE best practice benchmarking and certification Part 2

    5. Popularity of benchmarking

    6. Benchmarking is becoming easier due to advances in social media

    7. What is the BPIR.com? – and how it supports benchmarking

    I hope that you find them useful. Good luck with your benchmarking efforts!

    Best regards

    Robin

    Dr Robin Mann, Commercial Director and Part-Owner, BPIR.com Limited, r.s.mann@massey.ac.nz

     


  5. The BPIR.com and recession proofing your business

    October 20, 2009 by

    How has the recession affected your business and what are you doing about it? With the current economic climate organisations everywhere are thinking one thing: “How can we survive the recession?”

    There are a number of ways your business can survive the recession. Some positive (reducing costs, optimizing, expanding), and some negative (layoffs, downsizing). Either way the BPIR.com can help you to research ideas and provide information on best practices for successful implementation.

    The strength of the BPIR.com is found in its vast amount of content in the form of research and case studies, and the fact that it is all accessible by keyword searches. Our research can help to prove or disprove your current plans, and you do not have to reinvent the wheel but refer to case studies from award winning industry leaders.

    If you haven't already – why not join the BPIR right now? Our resources will not only help you to get through the recession they can also help to take your business to the next level.

    As a follow-up to our previous post on the telecommunications industry , check out the snippet below from one of our many cases studies.

     


    Digital Island Communications in New Zealand

    The following is a refreshing account of some well earned success achieved by Digital Island Communications in New Zealand. DI are a top ICT company that provides internet & data services, toll calling, phone lines & systems, mobile phone services, conference calling, phone cards and fax-to-email services. They were also winners of the Deloitte Fast 50 "Fastest growing technology company in 2008", and "Fastest growing telecommunications business" award in October 2007.  Ruth Le Pla [1] in NZ Business magazine writes that in a slowing economy DI was losing a lot of revenue and to overcome this it worked at improving its total operations and closely examined its underlying business model.  As a result instead of retrenching this led DI to make the following improvements:

    • Carrying out a re-branding exercise in order to put a new sparkle into its image,
    • Examining the products offered and eliminating poor performers,
    • Dropping some suppliers and picking up new ones as appropriate,
    • Proactively offering key customers better prices i.e. reducing costs!
    • Assigning additional staff to focus on loyal customers,
    • Improving service levels,
    • Leveraging technology by implementing sales-force software and efficient document management systems,
    • Implementing cost reductions by targeting areas where the greatest impact and maximum gain would be achieved and not by “nit picking”,
    • Managing debtors closely by following up personally on the 21st of the month.
    • Communicating well internally so that staff were always in the picture,

     As a result of these actions Digital Island achieved more than 25% revenue growth for the 2009 financial year. Blair Stewart of Digital Island said that "When times become tough, you need to make better decisions faster than ever,” and offered the following advice for achieving growth:
     

    • Stay in touch with cash flows.
    • Add value to customers.
    • Personalise offers.
    • Develop ways to up-sell.
    • Carry out contingency planning.
    • Work closely with key suppliers and banks developing a relationship of openness and honesty.
    • Guide customers through sales processes and keep them informed, customers value the experience just as much as they value the result.
    • Don't read newspapers. They spread negativity.
    • Be positive. (The attitude projected by management teams has an incredible effect on an organisation.)

      [1]  Le Pla, R., (2009), The tough get going!, NZ Business, Vol 23, Iss  6, pp 24-28, Adrenalin Publishing Ltd., Auckland
     

     
    Members may read the full article (click here)   which provides further helpful tips regarding three organisations that have bucked the trend by rising against the recession.