Service company Eurapco provides benchmarking for six financial services firms each operating in a different European country. The firms have formed a partnership for mutual self-help and self-improvement.
Eurapco acts as a project management company, covering areas of common practice such as security and purchasing. One of its activities is benchmarking IT operations. The objective is to establish best practice and the best ways in which member companies can learn from each other.
Eurapco uses two benchmarking processes. The CPI (Continuous Performance Improvement) service, run by The Corporate IT Forum, is initiated by CIOs. The other involves a consultancy, BCG, and is directed towards strategic objectives, initiated by chief executives.
Implementing a common approach has been a major challenge, according to Eurapco project manager Thomas Spantig. "Our main problems were, first, language; second, costing structures; and third, achieving a common approach with the controllers. In all projects in a pan-European alliance there is a language problem.
"With budget and costing structures, they found they were using the same term to mean different things," he says. This did not always become apparent before considerable work had been done.
Another problem was convincing the controllers within each organisation not to fight for a 100% correct table of all detailed figures. "It took a lot of time to get the right control, and then to get the figures, and from there to get to the whole picture," Spantig says.
Eurapco's plan is to continue the CPI benchmarking process on an annual basis. So far the work has concentrated on the operational side: work is currently in progress to extend it to cover development as well. Eurapco has run workshops to hammer out a common measurement method, and hopes to reach an agreement on a basis for proceeding by next year.