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BPI Best Practice Comparisons – Design High Level Phase

Blog: Biz-Performance, David Brown

BPI Best Practice Comparisons – Design High Level Phase


  • Compilation and presentation of ‘leading edge’ approaches of competitors and industry leaders, in areas such as business process, technology and human resource management. Best Practice Comparisons are largely qualitative in nature and refer to innovative ideas that have successfully proven to yield high performance levels elsewhere. The presentation of Best Practice Comparisons includes a description of  the leading edge practice and its rationale for use, performance levels its adoption has yielded and constraints/risks associated with its implementation.
  • Best Practice Comparisons can refer to a wide variety of elements. For example, ‘enablers’ for process improvement can range from names of leading software packages to unique approaches to customer service used in unrelated industries. Furthermore, ‘lessons learned’ (e.g. limitations of solutions, actual payback from implemented changes, what others would do differently, etc.) can be equally valuable to an organization undertaking BPI.

Client Value

  • Best Practice     Comparisons allow the client organization to learn from other     companies’ successes and failures prior to adopting proposed performance-enhancing opportunities itself. Exploring ‘how others do it’ also challenges the way business is currently conducted and broadens the perspective of client team members.
  • Without this type of information, design teams cannot ensure that the processes that they are designing will incorporate the Best Practice Comparisons used by the leading companies in the world. Consequently, ‘catching up’ and surpassing the competition is unlikely.
  • By looking at Best Practices outside of the client’s industry, process improvements and “best processes” can be discovered that are not currently implemented in the client’s industry. These “best processes” from other industries can provide the insight and innovation that allows the client to surpass competitors in it’s own industry.


External comparisons can vary in complexity. Standard, support-process activities (e.g. order entry, invoicing, ac­counts receivable/payables, etc.) can often be readily transferred from company to company, with relatively minor adjustments to the specific client. Industry-specific processes can be ad­dressed through industry consultants or other ‘experts’.
Comparison efforts should not only include travelling to view how other organizations man­age the same process but also trading information on process per­for­mance, sharing models that show how the process operates and understanding how an organiza­tion sup­ports a process. If possible, the design team should locate information about how competitors manage the same process. Some relevant information for the competitive anal­ysis may be found in the client’s existing competitive evaluations
  1. Identify and select activities for which Best Practice Comparisons are to be obtained.
  2. Specify the scope (e.g. appropriate ‘targets’ for comparison) and a measurement method for identified activities.
  3. Plan data collection activities and responsibilities.   
    1. Determine information needed for analysis
    2. Identify method for information gathering
    3. Identify frameworks for summarizing information
    4. Assign responsibilities
    5. Prepare for and schedule workshops, design forums, interviews, facility         ‘walkthroughs’, etc       
  4. Collect appropriate external data.   

Collecting external     comparison data

  1. Summarize/synthesize results
  2. Prepare a presentation for review by senior management.



  • Competitive/external     comparisons risk reinforcing certain individuals’ views that the     client organization’s current performance is ‘good enough’. Do not     let the objectives for the BPI project be limited by others’     performance.

Tactics/Helpful Hints

  • Best Practices may be useful earlier in the BPI exercise to determine the Focus Areas     and Priority Opportunities. At this point, when areas have     been pinpointed, Best Practices will help in designing versus focusing.   
  • Obtain     information on technology enablers from the technology-trade press,     industry analysts and competitor research as the basis for “clean     slate” brainstorming sessions.   
  • Be prepared to give something (information, results of study, etc.) in return for site visits to other companies.
  • Look for best practice processes in different industries. Making comparisons only with direct competitors only allows the client to “catch up” to the competition. Often, to develop “break through” improvements that will catapult the client past its competitors, Best Practices outside the clients industry must be researched.   
  • Remember that the objective with respect to technology is only for an understanding of technology to be applied in the redesign of business processes. The team should exercise care to avoid letting technology fascination obscure the objectives of the exercise.


  • Optimize resources through simultaneous analysis of multiple processes.
  • Charter a separate team to identify Best Practice Comparisons if design team     resources are more effectively deployed in the redesign effort.
  • Process expertise of industry-specialist consultants is critical to identifying appropriate Best Practice Comparisons quickly.

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