The key steps in benchmarking process are divided into five phases starting with the planning phase and evolving through analysis, integration, action, and finally maturity. In each of the five phases, there are actions that you need to accomplish. While you con and should modify them to meet your particular environment, it is important to remember that these actions are minimal for successful implementation of the overall benchmarking process: Improve business performance with benchmarking.
The objective of this phase is to lay out your plan for benchmarking. The key question you need to address are the basic elements of any plan. Specifically, three general questions must be answered:
- What will be benchmarked? Every function of your business delivers a “product,” so you need to identify which of these “products” must be benchmarked.
- Who is your best competitor? While you recognize that your major business competitors are your primary concern, you can also benchmark against other companies that set the standard in a functional activity.
- How will the data be collected? Just keep in mind that there is no one “right” way to do benchmarking.
Once you acquired the data, you must then analyze them. The objective of this phase, after all, is to understand your competitors’ strengths and to assess those strengths against your own performance. Therefore, it is essential to find the answer of these basic questions:
- Is the competition really better? If so, how much?
- Why are they better?
- What can we learn from them?
- How can we apply what we have learned to our business?
The answers of these questions will help you to find the “gap” between you and your competitors.
Benchmarking really begins to “earn its keep” during this phase. The first initiative is to gain senior management’s acceptance of the results of benchmarking analysis and its commitment to develop short-term useful action plans. Once senior management understands and accepts the date and the conclusions, then the development of strategies and action plans can begin. The problem-solving methodology is your best option during this phase. Keep in mind that timing and communication are essential.
After Integration phase is completed and you have a plan based on benchmarking data, and you have set specific goals and objectives, then it is time for action. Follow your benchmarking plan but do not forget to update your customers’ satisfaction perceptions. The best way is to use surveys.
How do you know when your benchmarking process has reached maturity? The answer is very simple – when you attained a leadership position and when performance assessment and process change have become essential, ongoing elements of your business survival management process.
While you may not be the leader in all areas at all times, that should be your overall goal. Only through striving to achieve superiority in delivering reliable products and services to your customers in the most cost-effective manner, you can achieve leadership in the marketplace and benchmarking can assure survival of your business in a fierce competitive marketplace. Benchmarking benefits will have matured only when it has become an integral part of your overall management practices.
You can use these benchmarking phases for all your businesses need, it will help you identify good practices that will need to be deployed internally. Benchmarking is an approach with multiple uses, for various applications. The results of a benchmarking operation will provide valuable information during a strategic planning in addition to a SWOT analysis.
The quest for good practices should not, however, kill in the bud all thoughts of organizational innovation. Taking inspiration from models to find your own way will be much more profitable in a competitive world than trying to copy them to the letter. The role of follower is hardly tenable over time.
Benchmarking can of course be used to assess not only the design, manufacturing, marketing / dissemination processes, but also the products produced, the services provided or even support and support activities.