Tobacco giant uses benchmarking to help suppliers and boost IT project success rate

British American Tobacco has developed a benchmarking process to predict how new applications will run on its global network.

British American Tobacco has developed a benchmarking process to predict how new applications will run on its global network.

The company, which operates in 180 countries, said the benchmarking test has contributed to the success of IT projects and is now part of the tendering process when dealing with suppliers.

BAT has also used the benchmarking system to help one of its existing suppliers, Hyperion, to improve the performance of its business intelligence software.

Most companies benchmark their software and hardware - judging their performance based on service level agreements and industry data. However, BAT goes further by benchmarking the performance of an application for end-users at the inception of new projects.

BAT uses application performance monitoring tools from Compuware to assess the potential impact of new software installed on its global network before pressing ahead with a deal.

The performance of new applications on a company network can make or break IT projects, and BAT needs to ensure that any application will perform adequately, irrespective of whether it is running over broadband, a satellite connection, or a 64kbps link.

Jon Veness, application architect in global programmes at BAT, said some software makers optimise their software for US and European networks, where broadband bandwidth is readily available. This can result in an application failing on other parts of a company's worldwide network.

Using Compuware's Application Expert, BAT developed a benchmarking process that it uses during the tendering process for new application software.

The benchmarking process has been used to identify performance issues with legacy software.

Veness said BAT's Hyperion 5.0 financial reporting tool appeared to struggle during the quarterly reporting periods. Using Application Advantage, also from Compuware, he identified the problem in the way Hyperion worked. Having informed the company, Veness said the performance issue was resolved in the 6.0 release.

"We are now upgrading to the new Hyperion. [The benchmarking] has reduced the risk of failure significantly," he said.

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