The objectives of the Overhead Cost Benchmark research are the following:
- Create awareness about the volume of overhead and indirect business functions in your organisation; overhead structure and costs.
- Provide insight in key factors that contribute to the optimisation of overhead.
- Develop recommendations on the optimisation of overhead design, structure and cost.
- Quantitative benchmark survey
- Interviews with participating companies
Definition of overhead
To be able to ‘compare apples with apples’ when looking at companies’ overhead, one needs an universal definition of ‘overhead’. When we started our research on overhead in The Netherlands in 2003, we introduced a clear definition of ‘the overhead’. This definition is now leading in The Netherlands: one of the largest economies in Europe.
We define the following high-level categories within a company as ‘the overhead’:
1. Management and management support
2. Human Resource Management
3. Finance and Control
5. Marketing and communication
7. Facility management
Our definition provides a detailed assessment of all mentioned categories, as well as a detailed description of corresponding functions. We also take into account roles that are in support of the primary process, but also directly add value to it. In that situation, we calculate a percentage of a specific role as overhead.
In our vision, the overhead needs to be in balance with the primary process. Therefore, we express the size of the overhead (and the costs) as a percentage of the total organization. In addition, we use FTE as the main indicator for overhead, as this captures the work load of most overhead functions as well.
With reference to the overhead costs, we include:
- Salary costs and costs to company of overhead functions
- Costs of outsourcing and temporary labour
- Office lease costs
- ICT costs
- Other material costs of overhead and indirect functions.
Beside this, the research will also look into the balance between centralised and decentralised overhead functions and the size and costs of the primary service functions.
We compare the outcomes of your organisation with the average of a reference group, consisting of companies of similar size and similar service offering.
You will receive a clear and comprehensive report which indicates the deviations of your company from the industry average. Before producing your company report, we will have a meeting with you to discuss the draft results and reasons and clarifications behind the deviations from the industry average.