Benchmarking :: Overview Click here to go to the homepage
What is it?
The pioneer of benchmarking, Xerox, defines benchmarking as the continuous process of measuring products, services and practices against the toughest competitors or those companies recognized as industry leaders (best in class). Benchmarking is the process of identifying, understanding, and adapting outstanding practices from organizations anywhere in the world to help your organization improve its performance. Benchmarking can be applied to processes or process metrics. It is a methodology in striving to attain a leap-ahead rather than gradual improvement and looks for the significant new aspect of a process that will accelerate innovation and change, to yield a breakthrough improvement, on the way to a world-class level of performance / customer satisfaction. Benchmarking is not a way of getting someone off your case by proving that you have nothing to learn and it is not a quick, easy, number crunching, spying, copying, espionage or gradual improvement.
Why is it important?
Benchmarking eliminates the guess work by looking at processes and enablers that lead to best practices. Benchmarking doesn't limit itself to competitive information; it seeks innovation by looking outside the industry paradigm. People often mistake benchmarking for competitive analysis. Competitive analysis typically looks at intelligence data: facts and figures, product breakdown (reverse engineering) strategic goals. It's a guessing game as to how to achieve the competitive advantage. Companies benchmark in order to: develop and implement strategic goals establish realistic actionable objectives provide a sense of urgency encourage striving for perfection and innovative thinking create a better understanding of the industry, and emphasize sensitivity to changing customer needs.
When to use it?
Benchmarking can be done prior to embarking on a new process or reengineering an existing one. This enables the organization to set a stake of objectivity in the ground and establish a standard. By understanding the state of operations before one can define improvement goals such as reducing unit costs by x percent a year, or improving service levels by y percent a year. Once the agreement is in place, continued measurement can track progress over time. Benchmarking can be a very useful management tool.
How to use it?
Follow the Plan - Analyze - Integrate - Act / Check cycle [which is parallel to the Plan - Do - Check - Act (PDCA) cycle].
1 Develop a team which represents all stakeholders.
2 Provide team with information and  overall materials necessary.
3 Identify results you want to achieve through examining other similar  processes and resources.
4 Develop a vision of what doing the process better means.
5 Determine how information will be collected.
1 Determine strengths and weaknesses presented in the information.
2 Identify quantitative data that can help you measure performance and set future targets.
3 Identify qualitative data that explains success factors and how the process is best-in-class.
4 Compare data and determine what you can learn from it.
5 Determine how you can apply what you have learned.
1 Modify any of your original goals of the process based on results of analysis.
2 Communicate findings and gain acceptance among key stakeholders. 
3 Consider the benefits of pursuing or not pursuing findings.
Act / Check:
1 Develop action plans to implement findings.
2 Identify any problem solving or continuous improvement opportunities.
3 Develop a process for monitoring and evaluating progress.
4 Implement plans.
5 Assess plans, resource objectives and process.
What's on the web?
APQC Benchmarking/Best Practices
Presentation on Benchmarking
The Benchmarking Center [UK]
The Benchmarking Resource Guide

Self-Assessment & Action Planning: Using the Baldridge Organizational Profile for Business

The Benchmarking Exchange [TBE]'s SelfAssessor program has launched a new way for you to get a quick look on how your department, division or entire organization measures up. The report will also show how you rated compared with others across all industries as a whole.

Many organizations also use this service to compare like departments within their own organization, anywhere in the world, then by comparing the report cards for each department they can learn which department needs assistance in certain processes and which department is the best choice to get assistance from.

By completing a series of questions on a simple form at selfassess/bald1/bp.cfm you will automatically and instantaneously receive a customized report showing how you rated.

This service is free to anyone. Just another one of those wonderful business process improvement tools from the makers of BenchNet and

Happy Networking!
TBE Technical Resources

Food for Thought !
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