Hamburg/Munich, January 31, 2014. Schickler has successfully accomplished its one hundredth benchmarking/KPI project for publishers. We took the occasion to talk to Hendrik Langen, a Schickler media consultant with more than 15 years’ experience in publishing companies.
Congratulations, Hendrik. One hundred is an impressive number of benchmarking projects.
Hendrik Langen: Thank you. Yes, Schickler has indeed acquired very extensive knowledge in benchmarking publishing companies. Some clients even tell us that our expertise might be unique in the world. We have worked for more than ten years to create a very comprehensive KPI system for publishers and to fill our benchmark database with world class references.
Do you see yourself as a benchmarking professional, maybe even an addict?
Hendrik Langen: (laughs) No. The Schickler Team is very concerned about market conditions for publishers getting tougher every year. There is high pressure on publishing organizations to adapt their strategy and their structures. Our KPI system for publishers and our benchmark database help publishers identify potentials for change. It is more a starting point for a journey into the future. We want to help publishers to find the way that suits them best.
What is your typical approach in a benchmarking/KPI project?
Hendrik Langen: Before we start, we need to know the specifics of the publishing organization and its regional market. This is extremely important. Although the business follows the same rules around the world, every market and every publisher is a little different.
So you go into the organizations?
Hendrik Langen: Yes, of course. Each benchmarking/KPI project starts with interviews. The department managers explain how their organization works. Then we start the data collection.
Is the data collection a big effort for the publishers?
Hendrik Langen: It depends. In most publishing organizations, 90 per cent of the data we need is easily available.
You almost make it sound like a routine job. Are all benchmarking/KPI projects the same?
Hendrik Langen: (laughs again) Not at all. We have seen very different approaches in publishing organizations. And we are very curious to learn new ways to do business in publishing. We see ourselves as a network and transmitter of good ideas.
What are some of the typical results of such a project?
Hendrik Langen: We have defined Key Performance Indicators for every single department of a newspaper or magazine publisher. The publisher gets detailed insight into where he or she stands. We line up potentials for improvement and give an indication of how much profits will rise if the publisher implements all the recommendations.
Can you be more specific?
Hendrik Langen: In most projects we have identified efficiency potentials of 15 per cent or more. The investment in a benchmarking project usually pays off in the very short term, sometimes in less than a month.
I can imagine that not every publisher is keen to see the results?
Hendrik Langen: Some clients just want to be given an indication of where they stand without the results becoming widely known. In these cases, we do a management level benchmarking without involving the employees in detail. But most publishers we know are very eager to know their position in relation to the best in the industry. Apart from good economic reasons, this desire seems to be very human.
Schickler works in a large number of countries. Personally, where have you been so far?
Hendrik Langen: My projects have taken me to Russia, Croatia, Dubai, France, Switzerland, Austria, and Norway, to name just some of the countries. It is very interesting to see the differences in these markets and cultures. But we have found a way of taking these differences into account in our benchmarks.
What has been the most surprising result in a benchmarking/KPI project?
Hendrik Langen: The most expensive subscription we have come across belongs to the former pope, Benedict XVI. He gets his German local newspaper delivered every morning in Rome – by courier. Of course, he pays no more than the normal subscription fee.