Why We Participate in OPEXEngine’s Software Benchmarking

Rally Software, based in Boulder, CO, is the leader in Agile Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) and IPO’ed April 2013

Rally is a later-stage, venture-backed software company with a true SaaS business model.  We provide Agile development tools and coaching services, and Forrester Research recently identified us as a clear leader in our market. 

To manage any business well – it needs to be measured and compared. Our business is doing very well – but we wanted to know how we compare to our peers. We use OPEXEngine’s benchmarking because it is the only tool that enables us to perform quality comparisons with similar types of companies.  Low quality comparison data is easy to find, but you get what you get – low quality comparisons.  We found OPEXEngine’s reports to be square on with what we needed and a critical source of data for our management team.  High quality data – like OPEXEngine – is rare and worth paying for.

We use the benchmarking data to get the whole executive team on the same page in terms of the budget and targets.  In addition, the board really appreciates having the comparison data when evaluating our plans.

OPEXEngine’s benchmarking is the only tool that enables us to perform quality comparisons with similar types of companies.

Most of the survey data components drop easily from our financial system and a staff member can quickly complete our submission.  Some items required a little thought or analysis at first but the time invested is well worth the results.  You can answer 85% of the survey in 30 minutes straight out of your audited numbers.  The additional 15% took about 2-3 more hours but it was worth taking the time to determine those numbers.  As a second-time participant, we now do some of the analysis on a regular basis so the whole survey input should only take an hour or so.

BUDGETING AND PLANNING BEST PRACTICES

Like most companies, Rally has an annual planning process. The OPEXEngine benchmarking participation and reports are critical in driving a positive and productive budgeting and planning process. 

For example, in our most recent planning in January, we carried out a parallel process whereby we collected inputs from the executive team for each departmental budget. We circulated a presentation with benchmarks for comparable companies and business models to each department head, 80% of which came from OPEXEngine and 20% of which came from public company data for other market leaders that we follow.  We reflected as a team on the benchmarks and how our internal plan related to those benchmarks.  We then used the benchmarking data to adjust the plans from the executive team as appropriate.  The team said this was one of the most friction-free and productive planning cycles they had ever experienced—primarily because it was data-driven. 

The team said this was one of the most friction-free and productive planning processes they had ever experienced—because it was data-driven. 

In the same way, we moved through a systematic process to get budget approval from our board by giving them supporting data for our plans.  We circulated the benchmarking presentation to each member of the board 7 days in advance of the board meeting to approve the budget. Our goal was to start the board meeting with board approval of the budget and we did exactly that.  In the past, we have spent 30 to 60 minutes of the board meeting discussing the budget. This time, we started the meeting with approval from the board first off and spent the rest of the board meeting talking about how to move forward with the plan. It was as easy as it ever has been, and we couldn’t have done it without high quality benchmarking data to support our plans.

We have used the benchmarking presentation, as well as the original benchmarking reports, repeatedly. Everyone wants to continue participating in the benchmarking because the experience this past year in our planning process was so positive and a true team exercise.  Now we can conduct thoughtful analysis of our targets as well as where we want to invest our resources.  By fundamentally integrating the OPEXEngine benchmarking into our planning process, and using it on an on-going basis, I believe that we are using our resources more efficiently, making better investments, and more easily achieving our targets.</p

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