Benchmarking for Performance Evaluation

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ISSN 1940-204X

Northlake Bookstore: Benchmarking for Performance Evaluation Hugh Grove University of Denver Tristy Hillestad University of Denver Lisa M. Victoravich University of Denver

IntroductIon
In September 2004, Wendy Wiley, the Northlake Bookstore manager, was considering the implications of a shocking development. For the first time in her seven years as the Bookstore manager, textbook sales for this fall had decreased from the prior fall sales. The sales decrease was approximately $180,000, or 3% of annual textbook sales. Wendy wanted to address this problem before it got worse. She found that this sales decrease was due to two emerging technology problems, possibly of equal magnitude: 1) the students’ increasing use of online textbook vendors, and 2) the professors’ increasing use of online textbook publishers. Wendy reported the bad sales news to her boss, Chuck Irwin, the Vice Chancellor of Finance at Northlake University. After commiserating with her, Chuck told her that he was not surprised by this sales problem and that she should consider how to deal with these emerging technologies in her next performance evaluation report by comparing the performance of the Northlake Bookstore against competitors using benchmarking analysis. This analysis would help Wendy find the strengths and weaknesses of the Bookstore. Additionally, Chuck wanted Wendy to develop a few key related short-term performance goals and related measures that could be used in future performance evaluations. He wanted to discuss the situation at their meeting next week, which was the annual review 1

of the Bookstore’s performance for the prior fiscal year 2004 (July 2003 through June 2004). A benchmarking analysis was required by Chuck for the annual review of all the nonacademic departments under his management. Northlake is a private university, located in a major metropolitan area in the Midwest, with an annual enrollment of 12,700 students, mostly undergraduates. Northlake is quite dependent upon student tuition, which typically accounts for 60% of its total revenues. However, the Chancellor was concerned because donations and gifts to the University were down, possibly due to uncertain economic conditions and erratic stock market performance. Prior to becoming the Northlake Bookstore manager, Wendy had spent 15 years in retail sales, most recently as a Wal-Mart sales manager. She was an outgoing, supportive individual who really liked being a retail sales manager and enjoyed working with her employees. She strongly believed in continuous improvement of any sales department that she managed. Despite her extensive retail experience in the for-profit sector, this was her first experience working in an academic environment. Wendy occasionally became frustrated working with faculty due to their late or inaccurate book orders. However, she liked helping students and enjoyed working in an academic environment without all the pressures of a for-profit business with aggressive sales and earnings targets like Wal-Mart.

IM A Ed u c AtIo nA L c A S E JournAL

China Case Competition 2009

nortHLAKE’S HIStorIcAL PErForMAncE MEASurES
To prepare her benchmarking analysis report required for the upcoming annual performance evaluation of the Bookstore, Wendy had collected income statement, product line, and other performance measures for the last three fiscal years. To aid evaluation, she summarized the various Bookstore operations into five product lines: textbooks, supplies and sundries, clothing, software and accessories, and computers.

The textbook product line included new texts, used texts, class notes (course packs), and general reference books. The supply and sundry line included school and office supplies, electronics, food, sundries, greeting cards, and miscellaneous campus department sales. The clothing line included all insignia clothing, gifts, and memorabilia. Wendy knew she needed to act fast to thoroughly analyze all...
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