The Governance Execution Framework (GEF) is a solution set that addresses GRC in both financial and operational contexts and at 5 levels of governance from the boardroom to internal audit. It enables companies to apply structured problem solving methods such as the Cynefin (pronounced ku-NEV-in) Method, decision support and other means of data collection that are known generally as “crowdsourcing”. What makes GEF unique is the strong tie to performance management and industry benchmarking.

RuleSphere’s BreakPoint Benchmarking Engine™ provides unmatched industry benchmarking capabilities for members of The GRC Sphere. Now your organization can close the loop on performance monitoring and assessment. We can achieve this by moving your operational and financial crowdsourcing tools into a multi-company consortium of peers where all members benefit from the performance feedback that they receive. Most importantly, our industry benchmarking approach and technology will not jeopardize your firm's competitive advantages, your intellectual property, nor your data privacy and security.

GEF consists of an industry benchmarking vision, a process, and the methods, tools and training that enable a firm to aggregate information from one of 12 separate areas (i.e. model categories) that support a variety of Governance Risk, and Compliance work practices and disciplines.

Analytic models and templates can be created by model authors, then branded and published for use by industry peers. Once a model or template has been tested and refined, it then has the potential to be used as a central data aggregation device for a consortium of firms within the same industry cluster. Validated and approved models serve as benchmarking instruments that can produce near real-time “peer average” and “best-in-class” industry benchmarking information without jeopardizing any of the participants in regard to loss of competitive advantage, nor loss of intellectual property, data privacy or security.           


                        • Audit Work Programs (AWP’s)
                        • Control Self-Assessments (CSA’s)
                        • Decision Support System Models
                        • Financial & Quick Ratios Models
                        • Industry Benchmarking Models
                        • Knowledge Management Models
                        • Maturity Models 
                        • Risk Assessment
                        • Risk Mitigation
                        • Strategy Models
                        • Surveys
                        • Other Crowdsourcing Instruments

RuleSphere’s BreakPoint Benchmarking Engine™ provides a progressive way to reduce the cost of compliance and close the loop on performance monitoring and self-assessment using near real time peer averages and best-in-class performance information!


The Strategic Value of Closed Loop Performance Management

Once the consortium has been able to take an analytical crowdsourcing model from concept to industry benchmarking and reporting, the real strategic benefits come into focus; both operationally and financially. By implementing an industry benchmarking performance appraisal and monitoring platform, members can expect to return impressive gains as reported by The Aberdeen Group in their March 2005 report entitled, “Closed Loop Corporate Performance Management Benchmark Report. Here are some of their key findings…


More than 75% of all enterprises that engaged in a program to improve their closed loop

performance management systems achieved impressive improvements in % gross margin on

average a 6.8 percentage points gain (17.7% to 24.5%).

Enterprises with best-in-class closed loop performance management programs consistently

outperform their competitors across all industries and company sizes:

 32.7% gross margin versus 24.7% for industry norm, and 15.3% for laggards

•  65.7% profitable segments versus 41.3% for industry norm, and 31.5% for laggards

•  27.2% share of profitable segments versus 20.1% for industry norm, and 14.9% for laggards. 


These research findings are not just impressive, they’re astounding and extremely compelling! So how can we get on board the industry benchmarking wave? Here’s the detailed 2-part story that starts with crowdsourcing and then proceeds to industry benchmarking.


If you are new to industry benchmarking, here's the story...

Benchmarking has been around for many years and the data that drive the typical benchmarking study has not been handled consistently.

According to a 2007 Bain and Company survey, benchmarking received the fourth-highest usage score (81%) among more than two dozen management tools used by senior executives around the world. The survey also reported that users tend to be highly satisfied (rated 3.8 on a 5-point scale) with the results benchmarking provides to their companies.

Many industry benchmarking organizations and tools have fallen by the wayside due to challenges such as making the data valid and consistent as well as by providing the information output as an industry service.


The Full Definition of Industry Benchmarking

Benchmarking is the process through which a company measures its products, services, and practices against its competitors, or those companies recognized as leaders in its industry. Benchmarking is a management tool for determining whether the company is performing particular functions and activities efficiently, whether its costs are in line with those of competitors, and whether its internal activities and business processes need improvement. The objective of benchmarking is for management to identify the practices that are most successful in the marketplace and to incorporate those techniques into the operation of their business.

Benchmarking focuses on company-to-company comparisons of how well basic functions and processes are performed. Among many possibilities, it may look at how materials are purchased, suppliers are paid, inventories are managed, employees are trained, or payrolls are processed; at how fast the company can get new products to market; at how the quality control function is performed; at how customer orders are filled and shipped; and at how maintenance is performed.

Benchmarking enables managers to determine what the best practice is, to prioritize opportunities for improvement, to enhance performance relative to customer expectations, and to leapfrog the traditional cycle of change. It also helps managers to understand the most accurate and efficient means of performing an activity, to learn how lower costs are achieved, and to take action to improve a company's cost competitiveness.

Companies usually undertake benchmarking to obtain a competitive advantage by reducing labor cost, streamlining the work flow through reengineered business processes and common administrative systems, improving data center operations through consolidation and downsizing, implementing new technology, outsourcing some assignments and functions and redesigning the development and support processes.


The goal of benchmarking is to identify the weaknesses within an organization and improve upon them, with the idea of becoming the “best-in-class.” The benchmarking process helps managers to find gaps in performance and turn them into opportunities for improvement. Benchmarking enables companies to identify the most successful strategies used by other companies of comparable size, type, or regional location, and then adopt relevant measures to make their own programs more efficient. Most companies apply benchmarking as part of a broad strategic process. For example, companies use benchmarking in order to find breakthrough ideas for improving processes, to support quality improvement programs, to motivate staffs to improve performance, and to satisfy management's need for competitive assessments.

Benchmarking targets roles, processes, and critical success factors. Roles are what define the job or function that a person fulfills. Processes are what consume a company's resources. Critical success factors are issues that a company must address for success over the long-term in order to gain a competitive advantage. Benchmarking focuses on these things in order to point out inefficiencies and potential areas for improvement.

There are many motivators that drive the different types of benchmarking. Application benchmarking and infrastructure benchmarking, for example, use such motivators as cost, quality, competition, and goal setting. An advantage of benchmarking is that it facilitates the process of change, clearly laying out the types of solutions external organizations have used and providing a global perspective on how part of the company affects the whole. It further helps focus improvement in the areas where actual gains can be made, which translate into value added to the company as well as its employees.

Benchmarking can be used at any time, but is usually performed in response to needs that arise within a company. According to C.J. McNair and Kathleen H.J. Leib-fried in their book Benchmarking: A Tool for Continuous Improvement, some potential “triggers” for the benchmarking process include:

  • Quality programs
  • Cost reduction/budget process
  • Operations improvement efforts
  • Management change
  • New operations/new ventures
  • Rethinking existing strategies
  • Competitive assaults/crises



Benchmarking involves selecting a product, process, or service to benchmark, and then identifying the key performance metrics for that particular function. A metric is a quantitative measure that is used as a reference point for comparisons. The analysis can take the form of vertical or horizontal benchmarking. Vertical benchmarking is where the focus is placed on specific departments or functions, while horizontal benchmarking is where the focus is placed on a specific process or activity.

There are four main approaches to benchmarking, including strategic benchmarking, functional benchmarking, best practices benchmarking, and product benchmarking. Strategic benchmarking compares different companies' strategies with particular reference to process capability, technology portfolio, and product line. Functional benchmarking analyzes the performance of core business functions, whereas best practices benchmarking breaks the function down into discrete targets for comparison with the industry leaders. It is a more focused study than functional benchmarking in that it assesses business processes and the management techniques behind them. Finally, product benchmarking, also known as reverse engineering or competitive product analysis, assesses competitor costs, product concepts, and alternative designs by dissecting competitors' products.

After isolating the aspect of the company to be benchmarked, the managers choose what they will measure the function against. Internal benchmarking is the analysis of existing practices within various departments or divisions of the organization, looking for best performance as well as identifying baseline activities and drivers. Competitive benchmarking looks at a company's direct competitors and evaluates how the company is doing in comparison. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the competition is not only important in plotting a successful strategy, but it can also help prioritize areas of improvement as specific customer expectations are identified. Industry benchmarking is a more trend-based approach. Because of its broad scope, it is primarily used by companies to establish performance baselines.

Once an internal department or another company has been selected to benchmark against, management collects data about its practices and performance. Benchmarking uses different sources of information, including published material, trade meetings, and conversations with industry experts, consultants, customers, and marketing representatives. Databases such as from the nonprofit American Productivity and Quality Center contain performance indicators for thousands of different companies. Management analyzes the data and identifies the best practices. Once the opportunity for improvement has been observed, the managers must implement the necessary changes and monitor subsequent performance.


There are several keys to successful benchmarking. Management commitment is one that companies frequently name. Since management from top to bottom is responsible for the continued operation and evaluation of the company, it is imperative that management be committed as a team to using and implementing benchmarking strategies. A strong network of personal contacts and an open mind to new ideas are other keys. In order to implement benchmarking at all stages, there must be a well-trained team of people in order for the process to work accurately and efficiently. Based on the information gathered by a well-trained team, there must also be an effort toward continuous improvement. Other keys include a benchmarking process that has historical success, sufficient time and staff, and complete understanding of the processes to be benchmarked.

In almost any type of program that a company researches or intends to implement, there must be goals and objectives set for that specific program. Benchmarking is no different. Successful companies determine goals and objectives, focus on them, keep them simple, and follow through on them. As in any program, it is always imperative to gather accurate and consistent information. The data should be understood and should be able to be defined as well as measured. The data must be able to be interpreted in order to make comparisons with other organizations. Lastly, keys to successful benchmarking include a thorough follow-through process and assistance from consultants with experience in designing and establishing such programs.