Benchmarking and business continuity

Benchmarking business continuity means different things to different people, judging by the variety of information available. In one case, the standard by which comparisons are to be made is based on how many organisations (manufacturers and service providers) think their BC plan covers their supply chain risks. Opinions are subjective and no guarantee of results. Yet if organisations looked at how supply chains themselves have developed an approach to benchmarking, they might find a better model to adopt for benchmarking their BCM.

Perception or opinion is of course not the only approach to business continuity benchmarking. Other approaches exist, based on the collection of data from different enterprises to generate benchmarks for areas within BC such as leadership and governance, training, IT disaster recovery, and crisis management. From a point of view of objectivity, we’re already closer to something that organisations can use to make both qualitative and quantitative comparisons. Further down the line, we can find benchmarking information for specific industries such as credit unions, on RTO (recovery time objectives) and RPO (recovery point objectives). As numbers, they’re eminently comparable, although the approach is still piecemeal, not global.

Here’s what business continuity might learn from supply chain benchmarking, which has the benefit of additional years of experience, and trial and error. Enlightened supply chain thinking takes account of metrics and performance standards for individual areas, but it also produces benchmarks that involve a whole range of cross-functional performance. A good example is the “perfect customer order” that spans order taking, order processing, warehousing, transport, delivery and invoicing, and puts all of these individual benchmarks into a meaningful and relevant combination. The point is that it takes all of these things to accomplish what is vitally important for an enterprise – to satisfy its customers. The definition of a similar overall, vital benchmark for BCM could help measure its true value and effectiveness for an organisation.