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Benchmarking is one management tool which captures and monitors an organization's performance. It also identifies performance improvement opportunities and pin points gaps in key areas. SAP Value Management Center, the benchmarking on-demand solution, is a FREE offering from SAP for all to measure, monitor and compare their performance with industry leaders.

I had a discussion on the capability of this free offering of SAP with Shailendra Sahay, Program Director of Value Engineering (VE) Best Practices Center and Global Benchmarking. His organization runs the SAP Benchmarking Program globally. The organization helps SAP customers assess their business process maturity and gap to industry best practices. He's given a similar interview to Silicon India, now here are a few salient points from our discussion.

1.) Business Performance Benchmarking is the first step to understand the health of an organization's business processes.

As per Shailendra, "As a trusted vendor to the customer, our objective has always been to solve our customer's real business issues. It is always important for us to first understand the customer's pain points, before offering an IT solution. And our benchmarking program is the perfect tool set to make this happen. Companies can choose to participate in one or more of our 20 plus business process assessments. At the end of the benchmarking exercise, they will get a customized report which will help them understand where they are doing good and the areas they need to improve. This also helps us understand the real pain points in our customer's business, and articulate an IT solution that will help them run better as an organization. "

The Benchmarking program has grown exponentially over the years. This has now transformed the way our customer's approach benchmarking. This program is available through the self-service VMC (Value Management Center) platform. The VMC platform has a database of more than 10,000 benchmarking survey submissions from 4,000 plus companies across 24 industries. It provides 20 plus business process assessments and 12 industry-specific business process assessments (e.g. demand planning for retail, asset management for utilities, etc).

Organizations can use the VMC to benchmark against one of the 300 plus available industry/process combinations (e.g. supply chain planning in retail industry). Customers and select prospects can register themselves on this platform, and choose the survey they want to take, and can get to see real time results after successfully completing the survey. This service is available absolutely free of cost and team of Value Engineers can help the customers interpret the results.

2.) Evolution of Benchmarking Practice over the years

The Benchmarking program was first launched in North America and then slowly expanded it to cover the rest of the world.With experience, the quality of the program improvement which in turn has resulted in robust benchmarking coverage across geographies and industries.  Shailendra sights an example where they realized that many companies in emerging and less mature financial markets were not tracking all the KPI's asked in the benchmarking surveys.

As per Shailendra, "It was a learning experience for both the parties, where these companies realized what they were missing by not tracking all KPIs that are critical to a successful business. We also learned on how we could make our surveys easier so as not too appear too overwhelming to companies which are still ramping up on the best practices curve. Often, we learn a lot of new trends from our customers. Lately, our customers have started to track a lot of new and innovative KPIs in order to keep pace with the changing business landscape. We keep updating our surveys to maintain their relevance to the current business reality. "

We ended our chat discussing the future roadmap and the vision of the offering. As per Shailendra, the vision would be to "go on and enable value management to be more effective and to reach a stage where it becomes a part of customers' DNA. We want to make it a self sustaining discipline which runs on its own because customers see value in it. "

The VMC functionality have been augmented with Business Case creation. More Services are in pipeline. I would strongly recommend that we pass on this good word around our community in our quest to make the world "run better". Please drop in your feedback and comments.