We thought we were best-in-class…

…Until we completed this benchmarking initiative.

Organisations often come to this conclusion after having used the right methodology to search for best practices inside and outside the company with the aim of improving their performance and practices. 

Through benchmarking, companies find examples of superior performance and analyse the processes and practices driving it. Organisations then improve by tailoring and incorporating these best practices into their own operations — not by copying, but by innovating.

Statue of Henri IV. Photo © Marc Cwikowski

Statue of Henri IV. Photo © Marc Cwikowski

Why would you embark your organisation upon benchmarking?

Organisations willing to evaluate and improve their performance, and embrace change in a proactive rather than reactive manner, see benefits in using benchmarking. The process can be used at any time and for various scopes such as policies, strategies and objectives, processes, products and services or even their organisational structure.

Companies may consider different types of benchmarking such as internal (benchmarking of activities and processes within the organisation) or competitive (benchmarking of performance or processes with competitors) or even generic (by comparing strategies, operations or processes with unrelated organisations). From experience in conducting and participating in benchmarking studies, including companies far outside the particular organisation’s field of activity, helps to learn and innovate, and is definitely a way to shake things up and make real change.

Benchmarking provides an inventory of creative changes that other companies have enacted.
— John Langley

What should you consider to ensure benchmarking brings full value?

There is first a need to define the scope of the subject for benchmarking as well as the process for selecting benchmarking partners, including the associated confidentiality rules. Determining the indicators for the characteristics to be compared, and the methodology for data collection and analysis, will be a second pre-requisite. When data are collected and analysed, there will be a need to identify the performance gaps and the associated opportunities for improvement. Implementing the defined improvement plans, monitoring their deployment and ensuring learning is captured will be final steps to consider for success.

Successful benchmarking will depend on various factors that include a strong support from top management, a companywide acceptance, the methodology used to apply benchmarking and the rigour by which improvement plans are implemented.

What a business needs most for its decision are data about what goes on outside it. Only outside a business are there results, opportunities and threats.
— Peter Drucker

Are you interested in improving your organisation’s performance through benchmarking?

Interested in learning more and getting support in using benchmarking to improve your performance and bring value to your organisation? We would be happy to share our practical benchmarking experience as well as the knowledge acquired in participating some years ago in the design of the International Standard “ISO 9004 - Quality management - Quality of an organisation - Guidance to achieve sustained success” in which benchmarking is addressed as a key process for performance evaluation and improvement.

Please get in touch.

Marc Cwikowski