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Operational Benchmarking: The First Step when Considering Structural Change

As sports organizations consider changes to their operating models they need to ask themselves: are we making decisions in a silo? Looking beyond your immediate context to learn from the structures and processes used across the sports landscape can create the conditions for successful transition and be the difference between cosmetic alterations and meaningful change when it comes to operational adjustments.


In a highly competitive environment, the ability for sports organizations to make fast, efficient, coherent and effective decisions is a major competitive advantage. The shorter the time between observation and action, and the higher the level of confidence in the robustness of that process, the greater the advantage.

As such, it is essential that leadership teams continuously and rigorously assess the suitability of their organization’s operating model and its capacity to create the conditions and processes required to deliver positive strategic outcomes.

As organizations weigh up operational changes as potential solutions to the myriad challenges they face, we believe that there are significant benefits to be gained from assessing the various different operating models and decision making structures that exist across the global sports ecosystem.

However, a key issue for senior leaders is finding the time and the opportunity to explore and gain access to other organizations in order to conduct detailed assessments of alternative operating models. That’s where Sportsology Group can assist, using our extensive global sports network and our detailed knowledge of operational frameworks to help teams understand alternative models and the lessons that can be learned and effectively applied to their own context.

Our Process

At Sportsology Group we prioritize understanding your organization and its needs. We collaborate with you to define the operational issues you are facing and identify markets and clubs to benchmark against to arrive at a deeper understanding of how other organizations approach their operational structures and processes. Ultimately, the end goal is to support your organization to build a framework for effective change that is geared to reduce the time from observation to action.

To achieve this we follow a four-step process:

1. Understand your challenge

At the outset of the project, Sportsology Group works with the client to understand key operational needs and define the areas where it may be looking to make structural changes.

2. Intelligence gathering

We work with the client to select an appropriate sample of sports organizations for benchmarking analysis based on filtering criteria relevant to the needs of the client. We then conduct in-market interviews with individuals close to the clubs in question to gain detailed, highly relevant insights into the operating models and decision functions of the organizations in question. This market intelligence is supplemented by extensive desk research and information from our own global database.

3. Report delivery

Market intelligence is written up in the form of a comprehensive report that describes the operating structure archetypes across the anonymized benchmark organizations and details key findings in terms of organization, process, governance, data, innovation and decision making.

4. Implementation plan

Sportsology Group works with the client to digest the learnings from the report and define any changes that are identified for implementation based on the information delivered. We can also work alongside the organization during the post-report phase to design an implementation plan for any identified actions.

4 Benefits of Operational Benchmarking

In our view there are four core benefits to organizations that pursue the operational benchmarking process:

1. Evidence-based decision making

The benchmarking process enables your club to objectively assess the various operating models common to a relevant, targeted set of organizations as you weigh up changes to your own structures. This ensures that any decision is made with full access to key intelligence and a full appreciation of market trends through relevant comparisons. 

2. Deeper understanding

The operational benchmarking process goes beyond simple org charts to explain in great detail how different operating models work to affect outcomes in reality. Giving you access to granular detail around how structures operate and how decisions are made at comparison organizations, the process delivers a deep level of insight into the issue at hand.

3. Framework for change

An effective operational benchmarking process focuses on decision dynamics and builds a heightened level of clarity around potential solutions to the questions your organization is asking. Through a detailed assessment of best practice and alternative models, we introduce concepts that can guide you towards a framework for change that works in your specific context.

4. Lessons & Applications

Sportsology Group consults with you and your wider team to understand the lessons that can be taken from the benchmarking research and how they can be assessed and implemented through targeted, strategic operational changes.

Is your organization rethinking its operational structures? Contact us today to understand how we can design a benchmarking process to support you through the change.

Chris M

By Chris Mann


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