Other Tools  
  The ICBS is a knowledge-based strategic management information system framework that has been built drawing direct inspiration from the resource-based view, the activity-based view and tries to refine the classic strategic SWOT analysis, using benchmarking and competitive intelligence techniques as a versatile learning tool. Value Management - also a tool used to build the ICBS - provides a perspective of value based on the relation between satisfying needs and expectations and the resources required to achieve them.  
  Competitive intelligence  

Competitive intelligence is the action of defining, gathering, analyzing, and distributing intelligence about products, customers, competitors and any aspect of the necessary environment to support executives and managers in making strategic decisions for an organization.

Key points to emphasize:

1.       Competitive intelligence is an ethical and legal business practice, as opposed to industrial espionage which is illegal.

2.       The focus is on the external business environment.

3.       There is a process involved in gathering information, converting it into intelligence and then utilizing it in business decision making. Competitive Intelligence  
professionals emphasize that if the intelligence gathered is not usable (or actionable) then it is not intelligence.

The term Competitive Intelligence is often considered as synonymous with competitor analysis, but competitive intelligence is more than analyzing competitors — it is about making the organization more competitive relative to its entire environment and stakeholders: customers, competitors, distributors, technologies, macro-economic data etc.

  Business intelligence tools  

Business intelligence is the activity of monitoring the firm’s external environment concerning the information that is relevant for the decision-making process in the company. The aim is to use the strategic intelligence in the decision-making process. That is, to make intelligence actionable, capable of guiding decisions in organizations, in the sense that, if the intelligence gathered is not usable (or actionable), then it is not intelligence.

Sometimes, the terms “business intelligence” and “competitive intelligence” are interchangeably used. While there are many interpretations for both terms, the Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals – SCIP (www.scip.org) distinguishes these two concepts in terms of scope of action. For SCIP, business intelligence refers to any combination of data, information and knowledge concerning the business environment in which the company operates that, when acted upon, will confer a competitive advantage or enable sound decisions to be made. Whereas competitive intelligence is defined as a systematic and ethical process of gathering, analyzing, and managing external information that can affect the company’s plans, decisions, and operations. It focuses on scanning a company’s competitive landscape for opportunities, threats, risks and advantages.

Business intelligence tools are a type of application software designed to report, analyze and present data. The tools generally read data that have been previously stored, often, though not necessarily, in a data warehouse or data mart.

  Value Management  

The concept of Value is based on the relationship between satisfying needs and expectations and the resources required to achieve them. The aim of Value Management is to reconcile all stakeholders’ views and to achieve the best balance between satisfied needs and resources.

What is Value Management?
Value Management is concerned with improving and sustaining a desirable balance between the wants and needs of stakeholders and the resources needed to satisfy them. Stakeholder value judgments vary, and VM reconciles differing priorities to deliver best value for all stakeholders.

VM is based on principles of defining and adding measurable value, focusing on objectives before solutions, and concentrating on function to enhance innovation. It uniquely combines within an integrated framework a value focused management style; a positive approach to individual and team motivation; an awareness of the organizational environment; and the effective use of proven methods and tools.

Value Management uses a unique combination of concepts and methods to create sustainable value for both organisations and their stakeholders.

The Institute of Value Management Techniques
The institute suggests some tools and techniques. Some of them are specific to Value Management and others are generic tools that many organisations and individuals use. You can see detailed information on http://www.ivm.org.uk/techniques.php

  (Competitive) Benchmarking  

Wikipedia defines Benchmarking as the process of comparing one's business processes and performance metrics to industry bests and/or best practices from other industries. Dimensions typically measured are quality, time and cost. Improvements from learning mean doing things better, faster, and cheaper.

Benchmarking involves management identifying the best firms in their industry, or any other industry where similar processes exist, and comparing the results and processes of those studied (the "targets") to one's own results and processes to learn how well the targets perform and, more importantly, how they do it.

Also referred to as "best practice benchmarking" or "process benchmarking", it is a process used in management and particularly strategic management, in which organizations evaluate various aspects of their processes in relation to best practice companies' processes, usually within a peer group defined for the purposes of comparison. This then allows organizations to develop plans on how to make improvements or adapt specific best practices, usually with the aim of increasing some aspect of performance. Benchmarking may be a one-off event, but is often treated as a continuous process in which organizations continually seek to improve their practices.


Benefits and use

In 2008, a comprehensive survey on benchmarking was commissioned by The Global Benchmarking Network, a network of benchmarking centers representing 22 countries. Over 450 organizations responded from over 40 countries. The results showed that:

Mission and Vision Statements and Customer (Client) Surveys are the most used (by 77% of organizations of 20 improvement tools, followed by SWOT analysis(72%), and Informal Benchmarking (68%). Performance Benchmarking was used by (49%) and Best Practice Benchmarking by (39%).

The tools that are likely to increase in popularity the most over the next three years are Performance Benchmarking, Informal Benchmarking, SWOT, and Best Practice Benchmarking. Over 60% of organizations that are not currently using these tools indicated they are likely to use them in the next three years.

Collaborative benchmarking

Benchmarking, was originally invented as a formal process by Rank Xerox, is usually carried out by individual companies. Sometimes it may be carried out collaboratively by groups of companies (e.g. subsidiaries of a multinational in different countries). One example is that of the Dutch municipally-owned water supply companies, which have carried out a voluntary collaborative benchmarking process since 1997 through their industry association. Another example is the UK construction industry which has carried out benchmarking since the late 1990s again through its industry association and with financial support from the UK Government.


Various benchmarking methodologies have been emerging. The seminal book on benchmarking is Boxwell's Benchmarking for Competitive Advantage published by McGraw-Hill in 1994. It has withstood the test of time and is still a relevant read. The first book on benchmarking, written and published by Kaiser Associates is a practical guide and offers a 7-step approach. Robert Camp (who wrote one of the earliest books on benchmarking in 1989) developed a 12-stage approach to benchmarking.

The 12 stage methodology consisted of:

1. Select subject ahead

2. Define the process

3. Identify potential partners

4. Identify data sources

5. Collect data and select partners

6. Determine the gap

7. Establish process differences

8. Target future performance

9. Communicate

10. Adjust goal

11. Implement

12. Review/recalibrate.

The following is an example of a typical benchmarking methodology:

Identify your problem areas - Because benchmarking can be applied to any business process or function, a range of research techniques may be required. They include: informal conversations with customers, employees, or suppliers; exploratory research techniques such as focus groups; or in-depth marketing research, quantitative research, surveys, questionnaires, re-engineering analysis, process mapping, quality control variance reports, or financial ratio analysis. Before embarking on comparison with other organizations it is essential that you know your own organization's function, processes; base lining performance provides a point against which improvement effort can be measured.

  Identify other industries that have similar processes - For instance if one were interested in improving hand offs in addiction treatment he/she would try to identify other fields that also have hand off challenges. These could include air traffic control, cell phone switching between towers, transfer of patients from surgery to recovery rooms.

Identify organizations that are leaders in these areas - Look for the very best in any industry and in any country. Consult customers, suppliers, financial analysts, trade associations, and magazines to determine which companies are worthy of study.

Survey companies for measures and practices - Companies target specific business processes using detailed surveys of measures and practices used to identify business process alternatives and leading companies. Surveys are typically masked to protect confidential data by neutral associations and consultants.

Visit the "best practice" companies to identify leading edge practices - Companies typically agree to mutually exchange information beneficial to all parties in a benchmarking group and share the results within the group.

Implement new and improved business practices - Take the leading edge practices and develop implementation plans which include identification of specific opportunities, funding the project and selling the ideas to the organization for the purpose of gaining demonstrated value from the process.

 Competitive Benchmarking

The term “benchmarking” is relatively new but the concept is as old as competition itself. Whether in industry, sport or in other aspects of our daily lives, we continually need to reference our own performance against others.

Industrially a business can live or die depending upon how well it benchmarks. Benchmarking need not be industry specific because the majority of processes in one organization are the same as in others irrespective of industry, for example, financial management, HR, product development process, supply chain management, customer support etc.

Competitive benchmarking is where we wish to discover what our company’s performance is compared with an immediate competitor

Depending upon circumstances and market pressures, competitive benchmarking has always been conducted either formally or informally. What is perhaps very new to most is the concept of “world class” benchmarking. This has come about in recent years as a direct result of severe international pressure in the market place, and notably the emergence of firstly Japan and then other Asian and South East Asian industries. These posed a real threat to many American and European companies and world class benchmarking has developed as part of a counter to that threat.

Depending upon circumstances and market pressures, competitive benchmarking has always been conducted either formally or informally. What is perhaps very new to most is the concept of “world class” benchmarking. This has come about in recent years as a direct result of severe international pressure in the market place, and notably the emergence of firstly Japan and then other Asian and South East Asian industries. These posed a real threat to many American and European companies and world class benchmarking has developed as part of a counter to that threat.

World class benchmarking

World class benchmarking is where comparisons are made with organizations in different industries, with the object of being “best in class” for critically important activities which may influence market share, costs, employee motivation and effectiveness (i.e. accounts receivable, standard costing) etc.

The 'loose brick'.

In Japan this aggressive form of benchmarking is often referred to as the 'loose brick'. In the West it might be called 'looking for the Achilles heel'.


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