Strategic IT Benchmarking

Strategic IT Benchmarking

Benchmarking has become an established approach for IT organizations to assess their performance. Key performance indicators (KPIs) such as the IT costs per turnover, or IT costs per employee have found their way into most management accounting schemes that IT executives use. Strategic IT benchmarking (SITBM) has been used to improve the business-IT alignment, form a basis to develop or revise IT strategies, or for internal marketing. However, despite strategic benchmarking’s rather long tradition, recent studies have shown that IT managers in corporations still find it difficult to fully exploit the information they are generating in their strategic benchmark endeavors. This difficulty is especially problematic, because an average strategic benchmark project costs $100,000, which does not include the human resources needed to conduct such a project.

Hinton et al. (2000) surveyed 559 business representatives and found that only 45% of them engaged in benchmarking, of whom a majority (more than 50%) reported problems with comparability issues, or that they were unable to interpret the data. Both of these problems strongly hinder the initiation of further actions. Additionally, a large number of SITBM initiatives still fail to reveal desired improvements, or fail completely, leaving us wondering why.

Given this background, our research addresses two research questions relevant to both science and practice:

  • What factors distinguish successful (i.e., outcome-producing) from unsuccessful (i.e., only output-producing) strategic IT benchmarking initiatives?
  • How do these factors influence the process of producing successful strategic IT benchmarking initiatives?

To answer these questions, we opted for a multi-case study research project and observed three companies that have undertaken a SITBM project. Currently we are in the an extended data analysis phase.


2008 - ongoing



  • Müller, B.; Ahlemann, F.; Roeder, K. (2010): Understanding the Success of Strategic IT/IS Benchmarking: Results from a Multiple-Case Study, 18th European Conference on Information Systems, Pretoria, South Africa, 2010.
  • Müller, B.; Ahlemann, F.; Riempp, G. (2009): Towards a Strategic Positioning Method for IT Management, International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), Phoenix, USA.
  • Müller, B.; Ahlemann, F.; Riempp, G. (2009): A Framework for Strategic Positioning in IT Management, 9. Internationale Tagung Wirtschaftsinformatik, Vienna, Austria, 25.02.2009, pp. 25-34.
  • Riempp, G.; Müller, B.; Ahlemann, F. (2008): Towards a Framework to Structure and Assess Strategic IT/IS Management, Proceedings of the 16th European Conference on Information Systems, Galway, Ireland, 09.06.2008, 2008, pp. 2484-2495.