Benchmarking software in action
Increasingly, our Benchmarking software is being used as a tool by consulting firms both as a precursor to client engagements and also as part of a valued deliverable. It offers them an independent and detailed gap analysis, positioning their clients against peer groups and indicating overall levels of attainment.
This article offers an example of professional use via an interview with the BCM project team of Atos Consulting Germany & Central Europe, comprising Robert Unrau, sector head Telco & Media Germany & Central Europe, and executive business consultants Kai Pigorsch and Jacques Eding. Kai contacted us to ask whether they could use the BCI Benchmark to formally assess a client’s condition as part of an ongoing project.
JR: Robert, to begin, can you tell us a little about your organisation and its business?
Robert Unrau: Yes, of course. Atos Consulting is the international business and IT consulting practice of Atos Origin, a global provider of consulting, system integration and outsourcing services. We have about 2,500 consultants worldwide through whom we help our clients advance their businesses in many directions, from strategy, through financial management, governance and organisation to operational excellence. We operate across all sectors, e.g. telecom and media, finance and banking, retail, transport and logistics, utilities, and more. Our customers range from global players to medium-sized, local companies.
JR: So which aspects of your work relate to business continuity?
Jacques Eding: We recognise the growing importance of business continuity in a number of client projects related to risk management and corporate governance. On the one hand, we see ever-growing complexities in global business ecosystems, spanning geographically spread supply chains and strongly specialised sourcing partnerships. On the other, there is an inevitably strong dependency on ‘real time, always on’ technology solutions that enable highly automated process chains. We can see that the resilience of a business is now vital for its competitive performance – sometimes even for its existence – certainly in physical disasters, but also in more frequent crisis situations. This is why we believe that business continuity management (BCM) should have its place on every CEO’s agenda. In response, we have grown a dedicated competence team providing end-to-end BCM with special focus on disaster recovery, risk management and security.
JR: I know you used the BCI Benchmark in a recent BCM assessment for one such customer. What can you tell us about that organisation and the project’s goals?
Robert Unrau: We performed a BCM maturity assessment for a company active in the converging communications, media and entertainment business in Europe. As with most of its competitors, the company is making significant investments to offer multi-play services, such as broadband Internet access, voice telephony, TV and further entertainment and information services. The aim of this assessment was to provide a view on the company’s business continuity maturity in relation to two dimensions: first, on the adoption of BCM at enterprise level; and second, on the current operational risk exposure of core business functions. We provided detailed recommendations against findings in each case.
JR: So, a top-level brief, clearly demonstrating that BCM is now a key competitive factor across entire sectors of business. How did this company find you and what was their aim?
Robert Unrau: We tendered successfully for the work, offering the right mix of experience, skill, project approach and price. Their goal was to obtain an independent view of their condition and then, on the basis of this, evaluate the need for further action.
JR: How did you find out about the BCI Benchmark?
Kai Pigorsch: In our project we used the BSI 25999-1/2 guidelines for the enterprise level BCM assessment. We searched for a benchmark that shared the same standard and we found this particular one. It also uses the BCI Good Practice Guide which satisfied another of our criteria, so we decided to use it.
JR: Was it a good fit with your project requirements?
Robert Unrau: Yes, the fit was good and the Benchmark helped us answer the question that top business decision makers usually want to know most, namely “How do we perform against the competition?” And since investments in centralised enterprise functions and the execution of a BCM programme usually do not show direct and immediate effect on the bottom line of the business, benchmarking results like these provide a good additional measure to support the management’s decision on its BCM policy. Recognising the gap between your own organisation and your competitors regarding BCM maturity greatly strengthens the case for funding and focused corrective action.
JR: What were your main findings?
Robert Unrau: We found that our assessment of the client’s BCM maturity level and the outcome of the benchmark converged well. Both indicated a low overall level of business resilience and organisational preparedness, and both indicated different levels of maturity in the many different dimensions of the assessment. We saw this as a confirmation of our formal assessment findings, though we were surprised by the significant difference of our client’s maturity level compared to comparable benchmarked companies. We believe that the average Benchmark user is not an average company, but much more enterprises which have dedicated special attention to BCM, for example by becoming members of the BCI.
JR: That’s a valid point, Robert. The Benchmark inevitably attracts achievers in this area and so encourages excellence. However, it is anonymous and there are clear benefits for organisations whose BCM is less mature, using it to advise and draw attention to areas where major improvements may be possible, in many cases at potentially low cost.
JR: What were your experiences using the Benchmark tool?
Kai Pigorsch: The tool provided us with an intuitive web-based front end that allowed us to easily compare our client’s BCM maturity level against its peers. The drill-down reports for eight specific disciplines gave us valuable information for our client on where to improve their BCM process. Overall, we liked the flexibility of the tool and its ability to present multiple different views on the data it collects. It allowed us to compare our client immediately against companies of similar size, industry, geographic region and more. We believe a more transparent interpretation of the findings could be reached by making the tool present the information used, such as the number of peers compared, against the quantifiers for the size of the visual elements on ‘control’ and so on. We understand this type of data can be accessed via an enhancement to the package we bought.
Our thanks to Robert Unrau, Kai Pigorsch and Jacques Eding of Atos Consulting for taking the time to share their experiences using the Benchmark.