Global companies join plan for online business process database

The World Bank, multinational companies and software suppliers have announced plans to store the definition of thousands of...

The World Bank, multinational companies and software suppliers have announced plans to store the definition of thousands of business processes on an online database.

The proposed benchmarking service, which is backed by companies including Shell Oil, consumer goods firm Procter & Gamble, the US Navy, analyst firm Gartner and IBM, could help IT directors compare the performance of their IT systems and business processes with that of other companies.

The database will also save companies from having to pay for benchmarking software and services offered by consultancies and analysts.

Business processes covered by the plans include supply chain, financial management, IT, customer service, marketing, and sales efficiency.

The companies and organisations involved are working with the American Productivity & Quality Center to create a standard set of thousands of measures of business processes, ranging from the cost of processing a customer order to reducing wastage on the factory floor.

Companies can view the information in the database for free if they provide measurements about their own business processes while retaining commercial confidentiality.

"Organisations rely on third-party evaluations of their performance with no real view of the accuracy of that analysis beyond their industry or geography.

"Most crave a better way to compare and benchmark themselves with their peers," said APQC president Carla O'Dell.

David Roberts, chief executive of the Corporate IT Forum, welcomed the initiative and said it would help IT directors judge their performance within an industry. But he added that firms would still be faced with the difficult task of changing their IT and business processes to the highest industry standard.

"The real art is making an improvement [to IT and business processes]. The information [in the database] will not tell you how to change your business processes."

Although benchmarking services have become commonplace, they are usually proprietary in the way information is collected and tend to be narrower in the technologies or industries they focus on.

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