1. Benchmarking for Performance Excellence

    March 20, 2011 by

    Following to the 5th Global Benchmarking Network (GBN) conference which was held in Kuwait in Dec 2010 and organised by GBN member Gulf Lead Consultants (GLC), GLC covered the topic in their January issue of GLC newsletter.

    The newsletter starts with defining what is benchmarking and then highlighting the challenges of benchmarking, benchmarking types & methodology and finally the value of benchmarking.

    You can download the full newsletter from here:

    Ahmed Abbas
    Benchmarking Researcher, BPIR.com

  2. Enhance your career and hold on to your job

    February 15, 2011 by

    Susan H Ivancevich [1] a fellow of the Dixon Hughes Faculty and her colleagues, in a article aimed primarily at newly employed accountancy graduates, provide the following tips for holding on to a job enhancing a career:

    Best practices for new employees

    1. Volunteer for new assignments: employers appreciate employees that show initiative and that look for new assignments and responsibilities.
    2. Work as a team player: the new employee’s goal during the first two years in particular should be to do whatever it takes to earn recognition as being a valuable member of the team.
    3. Show a desire to learn: including reading trade journals in  clients' industries, studying new accounting standards, and asking questions concerning these in connection with job responsibilities.
    4. Display a positive attitude: arriving at work on time with a positive attitude can greatly benefit your career.
    5. Have a strong work ethic: going above and beyond requirements, demonstrating a willingness to work hard and putting in extra effort for the organisation.
    6. Ask good questions: ask questions when required taking care to do this in an appropriate way.
    7. Produce quality work: be committed to excellence, review work before submitting, ensure that it accomplishes what was requested.

    [1] R11063 Ivancevich, S H., Ivancevich, D. M., Roscher, R., (2010), The First Two Years of Employment: Strategies and Pitfalls, The CPA Journal, Vol 79, Iss 7, pp 69-73, New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, New York

    Neil Crawford

    Members may read the full article which provides further advice about giving feedback to employees by clicking on the link below:


  3. China First in ISO 9001 & ISO14001 Certifications for 2009

    February 6, 2011 by

    ISO9001 use 2009

    The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) published the results of The ISO Survey of Certifications – 2009 about the global use and growth of ISO 9001, 14001, 16949, 13485, 27001 and 22000 standards.

    Despite Europe having acquired the most number of certifications, China is the leading country for ISO 9001 compliance, with a total of 257,076 certifications in the year 2009 alone.

    According to the ISO survey, China owns the highest number in the list of 10 countries for ISO 9001 certificates, with Italy coming in second having 130,066 certificates, or just a little above 50 percent of China’s overall amount.

    Previous years have witnessed China’s quick rise to the top; as early as 2000, China achieved Number One status moving up from third position. Other countries have remained constant: Japan, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Others, like the Republic of Korea, are now experiencing a historic low after being recognized earlier as one of the top achievers; while the Czech Republic has completely disappeared from the list.

    ISO 9001 is an international standard for quality management systems. This translates to an assurance that an establishment or institution has passed quality requirements and to be able to demonstrate that they are managing their business so as to achieve consistent quality goods and services. The fact that China continues to hold the topmost position is an affirmation that the country is ramping up its quality standards.

    ISO14001 Growth 2009

    While the records have shown a historic boost in the issuance of ISO 9001 certifications worldwide, the same cannot be said of ISO 14001 certifications. ISO 14001 prescribes the standards for environmental management systems (EMS), or how economies would better handle the effects their industries have on the environment, and which measures to apply in order to practice effective environmental management.

    Close inspection of the annual growth chart will reveal a distinctly erratic rise and fall in ISO 14001 issuances. In recent years, however, the numbers have seemed to stabilize; in 2008, figures display a total of 34,243 certifications as compared to the year 2009’s subtle increase at 34,334. The leading country in terms of growth is, unsurprisingly, China.

    Currently, a new ISO/ITC handbook/CD package has been created to make ISO 14001 guidelines more comprehensible. Released at the start of the year 2011, its aim is to provide “an easy-to-use checklist for small business”, so that SMEs can achieve ISO 14001 certified status more quickly and more conveniently. It highlights the varying benefits of the certification, particularly in profitability and enhancing one’s corporate image. This could be ISO’s way of addressing the need to further raise environmental awareness.

    More information can be found at ISO Survey of Certifications – 2009 here

    Ahmed Abbas
    Benchmarking Researcher, BPIR.com

  4. Book Reviews…

    January 22, 2011 by

    Over the past year I have read and reviewed a number of books – it is part and parcel of our job at BPIR.com to keep up-to-date with the latest information. Here are some of the most interesting books I have read. Why not get off to a good-start in 2011 by reading one of these books and applying their insights and ideas.

    Authentic Personal Branding – A New Blueprint for Building and Aligning a Powerful Leadership Brand, Dr. Hubert Rampersad, 2009. www.total-performance-scorecard.com. Hubert has a talent to apply business concepts to personal improvement. In this book, he shows us all how to build our own personal brand—and just as importantly—how to persuasively communicate this brand to the world.

    FAST Action Solution Teams – How to save a million dollars in 2 days, Jim Harrington, 2010. www.qualitydigest.com/inside/quality-insider-news/book-fast-action-solution-technique-fast.html. Jim Harrington is still going strong at 82 years old, his mind and thinking is as sharp as ever and this is his reflected in his latest book. FAST Action Solution Teams is a straightforward book on how your organisation can pick off the low hanging fruit and put in solutions that will quickly reap major bottom-line returns. FAST Action Solution Teams refers to one or two-day study projects that define improvements that individuals performing the study can implement within the next 90 days.

    Hoshin Kanri – The Strategic Approach to Continuous Improvement, David Hutchins, 2008. www.hutchins.co.uk/bk_hoshin.aspx. David has been a leader for many, many years in bringing tried and trusted techniques from the Far East to the awareness of the West. David’s latest book focuses on Hoshin Kanri—a strategic approach that encompasses four key elements of business management, namely Vision, Policy Development, Policy Deployment and Policy Control. This approach, developed in Japan, and used by organisations such as Toyota, was initially popularised by Professor Kaoru Ishikawa. It is a powerful approach, as it particularly assists in strategy deployment, which is often a weakness in organisations.

    Key Performance Indicators – Developing, Implementing, and Using Winning KPIs, David Parmenter, 2009www.davidparmenter.com. I have known David for many years, and could not wait to read the second edition of his book. The book simplifies performance measurement and is highly practical. Its focus is on the correct selection and deployment of performance measures to ensure that all resources and effort are focused on achieving business strategy. In particular, it explains the right way to measure and not the wrong way. Too often, companies claim they have key performance indicators, and yet these are often lagging measures and measured infrequently… therefore, how can they be key?   This second edition includes a discussion of critical success factors, as well as new chapters that focus on implementations issues and 'how to sections' on finding your CSFs and brainstorming the performance measures that report progress within the CSFs, Key Performance Indicators. The second edition will help you to identify and track your organization's KPIs to ensure continued and increased success.  

    No More Consultants – We Know More Than We Think. Geoff Parcell & Chris Collinson, 2009. www.chriscollison.com. This book describes interesting and practical ways to do internal benchmarking through self-assessments and the use of a “River Diagram”. A River Diagram visually shows where there is the greatest opportunity for sharing practices and learning within an organisation. By using River Diagrams, the level of internal sharing can be mapped and increased, thus assisting an organisation to leverage off its internal experience, expertise and practices.  

    The Rudolph Factor: Finding the Bright Lights that Drive Innovation in Your Business, Cyndi Laurin and Craig Morningstar, 2009. www.guidetogreatness.com. The Rudolph Factor details the impressive turnaround of The Boeing Company, with real stories from the people at Boeing C-17 who contributed to its success. Rudolphs, explain the authors, are the 10 percent of any organisation's people who are the true agents of innovation – people who can shine the light exactly where a company needs to go. Since they tend to identify causes of problems (rather than symptoms), they generate sustainable solutions more quickly and efficiently than others. Because their thinking tends to be counter-intuitive, Rudolphs are typically considered outcasts or loose cannons until their talents are needed (often at the 11th hour of a crisis, at which point they often are hailed as heroes).

    In finding these crucial individuals, nurturing them, and putting their ideas to work, your company can achieve consistently higher levels of innovation – and thrive in every economy. The Rudolph Factor shows managers how to spark bright ideas and capture greatness in others. Another great book from Cyndi!

    I hope these reviews were useful! Please, let me know of any books that you recommend.
    Dr Robin Mann
    Co-founder BPIR.com

  5. EbeFixer Stooge and the Cost of Quality Past

    December 19, 2010 by

    Hello all,

    Here is another great article from our friend Adam Stoehr of the National Quality Institute in Canada. The National Quality Institute, http://www.nqi.ca, are BPIR.com’s partner for Canada.  Adam’s article is about the story of EbeFixer Stooge and the cost of quality.

    EbeFixer Stooge and the Cost of Quality Past   

    By:  Adam Stoehr, MBA, BBA, NQI CEP®
    Vice President, Educational Services, National Quality Institute

    Once upon a time there was a manager named EbeFixer Stooge.  Stooge was always in a bad mood.  His job was to find problems and fix them.  He was an expert at fixing things.  He would sit in his office long days and nights reworking all the mistakes that were made by his co-workers.  He was known around the office as the Re-Man.  His specialties were re-work, re-pair, re-do, re-place, re-call, re-anything!  Despite his grumpiness, Stooge was really good at what he did.

    One of the things that he was particularly good at was counting all the money he was saving the company.  Every day at 7:30 pm he would sit at his desk and calculate the money he saved the company and produce his re-ports.  These daily re-ports could easily have 30 plus pages of charts and figures in them.  By the end of the week the re-ports would pile up high on his desk so that he couldn’t be seen behind them.   Sometimes you could walk past his office and hear him mumbling under his breath behind the huge piles, “money, money, money, money, saving all this money”.


    Stooge loved Christmas time.  Not the way that most of us love Christmas time.  He loved it because he could go into the office and have some peace and quiet.  His office was one of those offices that closes for the Christmas holidays.  This year was no different.  All of the staff were home with their families.  Everyone except for Stooge.


    It was Christmas Eve and Stooge was sitting at his desk cranking out re-ports.  He was quite happy sitting by himself.   It was past dinnertime and Stooge was about to lock up for the day.  He was planning on coming in bright and early on Christmas morning to finish off some more of his re-man duties.   Just before he shut down his computer a new message arrived in his inbox.  The message was from an old mentor of his named Jacob Smartly and the message was titled: “The Cost…”

    He opened the message and it read: “EbeFixer.  Don’t forget about the Cost of Quality.   You will receive 3 messages before midnight, each one giving you insight into the Cost of Quality.  The messages will explain how the cost of quality can be divided into three categories.  Cost of prevention, cost of inspection, and the cost of failure.   Don’t forget the best places to spend the money.  Best Regards, Jacob Smartly (aka re-bug).”

    Stooge was surprised by the email.  He hadn’t heard from Smartly for months.  Last time they spoke, Smartly told Stooge that he had been meaning to share some thoughts. Smartly was known as re-bug because he always bugged Stooge about his re-man ways.  Stooge was thinking back to what it was like working with Smartly and thought… bah….re-bug….

    He shut down his computer and reached for his coat.  Just then, his BlackBerry buzzed and sure enough there was a message titled: “The Cost of Quality Past.”  Stooge sat back down and read the message.  The message was all about prevention costs.  Prevention costs are things like training costs, planning costs, process improvement costs, and continuous improvement activity costs.  Prevention costs are sometimes referred to as controllable costs, meaning that we have control over how much we spend on them.  Prevention costs are things that organizations spend or spent money on to reduce exposure to future failure costs.  Great organizations spend most of their quality dollars on these “good” prevention costs.   A dollar spent in the past will prevent a bunch of dollars being spent in the future.


    Stooge was reminded of a time when he used to think more about controllable costs.  A few years ago when the company hit hard times, he had to make the decision to put a freeze on all training dollars.  Travel for planning meetings was also axed.  Plus, all continuous improvement efforts were put on hold until further notice.  Instead, all hands were to be on deck for crisis management with a focus on getting through the storm.  At the time it saved the company around 20% of the HR budget and he was rewarded and praised for his efforts.   

    His BlackBerry buzzed again.  The second message was titled: “The Cost of Quality Present.”  This message built on the theme of prevention from the first message.   It went on to talk about the cost of inspection and appraisal.  Inspection costs are things like auditing, checking, proof-reading, and testing.  It is the cost of checking for deficiencies before they affect customers.  These costs are also controllable.  They don’t happen in the past; they happen after the fact or in the present.  These costs are important things to spend money on, but world-class organizations try to avoid these inspection costs over the long term.  Inspection costs are the last chance to catch problems before the customer sees them.  They are necessary, but the best organizations in the world try to figure out ways to prevent problems before they become something that can be inspected in the present.


    Before Stooge had time to reflect his BlackBerry buzzed again.  This message was titled: “The Cost of Quality Future.”  This message was darker.  It was all about failure.   Failure costs are the costs of getting things wrong.  Examples of failure costs are re-work, re-do, re-call, re-pair, re-anything.  These costs are no longer controllable.  They are resultant.   Resultant costs are not those that we make happen, they are those costs that happen to us.  The worst part about failure costs is that they are much more expensive than the other two costs.   The email detailed recent examples like the oil company that could have prevented the oil spill by installing a $50,000 (controllable) valve but instead was exposed to the cost of clean-up of $23 billion (resultant).  Or the food company that could have prevented a listeria outbreak that caused deaths, with a $1 million prevention plan.  Failure is expensive and when we fail, it’s too late to fix the long-term damage.


    Just then, Stooge was overcome with self-awareness.  I am the re-man.  I focus on failure.  I am a failure expert.  How could this be?  I’ve always thought that quality is about fixing stuff.  But Quality is really about preventing stuff from going wrong.   He looked at the piles of re-ports on his desk and thought that he was measuring the wrong thing.  In fact he wasn’t saving the company any money.  He was costing the company money.  Failure is way more expensive than prevention.   

    “It’s not too late!  I can change!  I can shift the focus of our spending from expensive resultant costs to cheaper controllable costs!” shouted Stooge as he stood up and in one fell swoop knocked all the re-ports into the recycling bin.

    Stooge decided to take a week off for Christmas.  Then on January 3rd he was back at work, a new man.  No more re-man.  He was Pre-Man (short for prevention man).   That morning he lifted the freeze on training dollars.  He reinstated travel for planning meetings.  He planned out a pathway for organization-wide continuous improvement activities.  He built a cost of quality communication plan to share his new-found knowledge with the rest of the organization.  He even had a new nameplate printed for his office door and desk with the new nickname of Pre(vention)-Man.

    As the year went by, the organization started performing better.  They were failing less.  Stooge was always in a good mood.  His job was now to find problems and prevent them.  He was an expert at preventing things from going wrong.  He would work with his colleagues to find ways to prevent mistakes.  He was known around the office as the Pre-Man.  His specialties were training, planning, and continuous improvement.  Stooge was really good at what he did.

    Stooge was even rewarded for his efforts with the De-Stress Award that was highly regarded around the office.  After receiving the award Stooge read the inscription out loud.  It read: The De-Stress Award, presented to EbeFixer Pre-Man Stooge.

    De-Stress Us… Every One…