The Value of Benchmarking and Peer Reviews

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Receiving and Validating the Greatest IT Value

As a Chief Information Officer (CIO) for over 15 years in multiple industries, I have never been more convinced of the value of peer benchmarking and peer reviews. Considering that there has never been a better time to be a great CIO, yet never the worst time to be a mediocre CIO, leveraging the benefits of benchmarking and peer reviews is invaluable.

When benchmarking our University IT operations against hundreds of other universities through the Educause Core Data Survey, we can quickly see how we compare to costs, performance, and serviceability.  To drill down even further to gather more pertinent comparative data amongst our peers, we have learned to use the invaluable services of leading research firms like The Tambellini Group.  Firms like The Tambellini Group have years of research data that allow member institutions to quickly obtain decision-making data on vendor support, system costs, and implementation hurdles for the data systems used among our peers.

By leveraging the benchmark and peer reviews through leading organizations, we are able to make more accurate and timely decisions, while strategically measuring how well we are performing. As a CIO, it is priceless to be able to tell your executive team that they are in the top 5% of peer-like organizations in the area of cost savings and overall service performance. In addition, to measure the costs savings on major system purchases and implementation through benchmarking reports is icing on the cake. For instance, The Tambellini Group produces and annual SIS/ERP comparison report known as the “Student Information Systems U.S. Higher Education Market Share, Trends, and Leaders Report.” This report is the Higher Education CIO’s guide to staying out of hot water on the very systems that consume ~55% of the overall IT budget. Over the years I have continually used these services; which cost a fraction of the overall savings we gain — while giving me a peace of mind how we measure against our peers.

Normally, the same firms like Educause and The Tambellini Group who understand the value of benchmarking, also incorporate annual peer recognition programs. A great example is The Tambellini Group’s annual Dr. Wayne Brown Ed. Tech Leader Award which recognizes leading initiatives led by college and university leaders.  As you can see from the graphic below, the award incorporates a peer review process; whereby peers are able to nominate and review the great work being done in the higher education space.

Every year, colleges and universities are able to do a peer-review of the great work others are doing. This year, The University of Wisconsin, Centre College and Oral Roberts University are finalists.  Through this peer reward process, higher education professionals will not only cast a vote but learn of the great work each institution is doing.  As an IT leader, I am able to rejoice and review the transformative work of my peers at The University of Wisconsin and Centre College. I am elated to see their collaborative and creative work that is benefiting many other higher education institutions.  Even though there will be an award given, the greater reward is the peer reviews that are naturally taking place through the method and process being used. If you work for a college or university, you are welcome to vote on the finalists and input as a peer professional within higher education. Very few award recognition programs are set-up to allow peers within the same industry to vote on recognition for their peers.

I continue to talk to many of my colleagues, and a good percentage of them are stressed over the never ending tasks, goals, and requests for technology related initiatives.  My advice continues to be that they should allow benchmarking and peer reviews through the services of Educause and The Tambellini Group to help alleviate some of the pressures.  The fact is, even a great IT leader who has excelled in the past, needs to validate, test, and benchmark their own belief system. I encourage you to find the similar service organizations in your industry that allow you to benchmark your own IT organization’s value.

Another example of benchmarking and peer reviews are all the wonderful articles being written by the contributing writers of CXOUSA.  The collective value of these writings allows a peer review between IT leaders across industries. The dynamic and fresh information that spans across critical topics and industries by leading IT professionals is invaluable.

Michael L. Mathews
Chief Information Officer, Oral Roberts University

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