by Dennis Gutkin, CPM, Pfizer
and Al Kidney, CMIR, Nova Chemicals
 
The Investment Recovery Association was founded on the principles
of relevant education, professional networking and ethical practices
over 25 years ago. Since then, the Association has developed numerous
avenues for members to receive timely and useful information to improve
their personal and professional performance. One of the most important ways in which this IR-specific data is
collected and made available to our members is through the efforts of
the Benchmarking Committee.
 
IMPORTANCE OF BENCHMARKING
 
Investment Recovery Benchmarking provides a mechanism by which
Association member companies gauge their own activities against their
peers and stay current with standards and best practices. It also
provides a path by which new methods for improved productivity and
profitability can be proposed. In fact, the IR Association Best
Practices are a significant result of the Benchmarking survey and the
efforts of the committee. Benchmarking is an excellent tool proposing
improvements within an organization, and can also help heighten the
profile and perceived value of the investment recovery role within
one’s company.
 

Committee Mission

The Benchmarking mission states, “It shall be the responsibility
of this committee to study and develop strategies which address the
benchmarking of the investment recovery profession and publicize the
data available from the study.” For those not familiar with “the
study”, it is the solicitation, collection, analysis, interpretation
and reporting of key metrics, processes and statistics fundamental to
the investment recovery profession.
 

What the Benchmarking Committee does is simple yet incredible. In
essence, it is the conduit through which this vital data is collected,
analyzed and made available to the Association members.
The committee is made up of a mix of association members from various
industrial backgrounds, i.e. large to small manufacturing companies;
utilities, food, drug, chemical and equipment  manufacturers. This
makeup helps insure a well—balanced group with diverse viewpoints—an
important criteria for achieving our Mission.

 

The committee assumes the following major responsibilities:
• Maintain the focus and integrity of the Benchmarking program.
• Review the Benchmarking questionnaire and survey findings each time the survey is fielded to assure it meets expectations.
• Work with the PR committee to promote participation in data collection and publish timely results.

• Seek funding so this important initiative can continue.
 
Due to the ever-changing business environment, we review and
update the survey questions to ensure the full comprehension by all
participating companies. Once the study criteria and data points are
developed and finalized, the Committee collaborates with the Center for
Advanced Purchasing Studies (CAPS). CAPS, a global research center for
strategic supply management affiliated with the Business School of
Arizona State University, serves as our data collector and facilitator.
By utilizing an unbiased third party research team of this caliber, all
individual information remains anonymous and the quality of the study
is assured.
 

Once the data from all participating companies is analyzed by CAPS
Research, a report is made available to our Committee. The Committee
then ensures the information is disseminated throughout the Investment
Recovery Association. The Executive Summary and full Benchmark Report
are posted behind the ‘Members Only’ section of the Association
website. Results are reviewed with the Public Relations, Education and
Seminar Committees to ensure they make appropriate updates to their programs. Many improvements to the seminars have been a direct result of this input.

 
Based on the post-report results and review of the finished data,
the committee reviews the questions and respective responses, beginning
the development process for the next study.
 
The Importance of Participation
 
Did you know that of the invited participants in 2007, only 40%
completed the survey? The more varied the participants, the more
comprehensive and valuable the report. Although “Not enough time” is
often cited as a reason for not responding to the survey-with records
assembled-actually completing the survey takes only about 30 minutes!
 
WHAT’S NEW WITH THE BENCHMARK SURVEY?
 
Because current information is more actionable, the decision was
made to field the Benchmark Survey every other year vs. every third
year, providing all of us with more accurate and up-to-date information.
 
Completing the survey is done online as it was in 2007. Feedback
indicates the last survey was extremely user-friendly. However, there
were some terms or questions participants did not fully understand, so
we are including definitions this year to ensure everyone understands
what results we hope to achieve from specific questions. 
 
Although the majority of responses are from companies that are members of the Association, we invite non-members as well.
 

The survey will include questions regarding:
• How your company chooses to organize the Investment Recovery function
• How it aligns to the balance of the organization
• Employees, expertise and salaries associated with investment recovery

• Strategies for managing and functions performed by the IR department 
• The tools or services employed to perform the functions

• Use of outsourcing, Internet, Auctions, etc
• Statistical data relative to results, costs, achievements, etc.

• Your knowledge of the Association Best Practices, and how you stack up against them.
 

Save $50 on Your Next Seminar

The 2009 survey will be issued by CAPS  Research via email on
Tuesday, March 3, 2009. By participating, you qualify for $50 savings
on a future Investment Recovery Seminar and Trade Show registration
fee. Be sure to mark your calendar to ensure you and your company get
the most out of the next Investment Recovery Benchmarking opportunity!
 
Reprinted from ASSET 2.0, the Investment Recovery Business Journal, Vol. 1, 2009

© The Investment Recovery Association