Learning from others is how we all improve.
Organizations use benchmarking to compare themselves to others and learn.
Benchmarking is the process of going outside an organization to look at how high performers are doing things in other industries.
The concept is to identify and learn from best practices.
Organizations use benchmarking as part of their Quality Management System in an effort to gain insight into ways to improve what they do.
Successful organizations understand that learning from what others do is a valuable resource for targeted improvement.
7 Tips for Benchmarking
1. Identify What Area Needs Improving
Use your critical success factors as a guide to help you identify areas to improve and focus on those areas that are not performing as well as you had hoped.
This will help you target specific areas in your organization that need improving.
Make sure you consider factors like cost, quality, and service when you are targeting improvement.
For instance, if you operate a call center, benchmark hold times, or abandoned rates from like organizations to see if they have tips or tricks to improve your times.
2. Look for High Performing Organizations
Look for organizations that perform well in this area. Use professional contacts and networking to find the right organizations.
LinkedIn is a great place to do this kind of networking.
Going outside your industry can shed light on how you do things as compared to how other industries tackle the same problem.
For instance, healthcare has improved many of their processes by learning from the hospitality, manufacturing, and airline industries.
3. Contact the Organization
Be professional in your communications and don’t pressure the organization to share data.
Many organizations have a process for sharing benchmark data and are happy to share, especially in areas that they perform well.
They are proud of what they do and are happy to share with others.
However, not all organizations are comfortable sharing performance data so be sensitive to this if you get resistance to the request.
Make contacting you as easy as possible and if you miss a call be courteous and respond quickly.
4. Collect and Analyze Data
Be prepared with your questions and the specific data you are looking for.
Make sure that when you collect data, you are comparing apples to apples and if oranges are in the mix, take differences into consideration when applying the information to your own organization.
For example, if you are requesting benchmark information for maintenance staff, make sure that the square footage and the number of hours of operation are the same.
The maintenance needs of a hospital would be very different from the maintenance needs of an insurance office.
The goal is to learn what’s working for other organizations and bring tips back to implement in your organization.
5. Develop A Performance Improvement Plan
Once you analyze the data gathered you will have a better understanding of where you are as an organization as compared to where you would like to be.
Use this information to develop a performance improvement plan to get you there.
Identify staff to help implement the plan and manage the performance of employees to achieve those goals.
6. Implement the Plan
Implement the plan and be sure that is incorporated into organizational goals so there is assigned accountability for getting things done.
Some plans are lengthy so be sure to allow adequate time to implement.
Be sensitive to this and use SMART goals to ensure they are achievable.
For example, improving customer satisfaction scores takes time and can’t be done overnight.
Try not to discourage employees by forcing unrealistic goals and timelines.
7. Check for Improvements
Once the plan is implemented, go back and see if improvements show in the data.
This is where FOCUS PDCA comes in to close the loop.
Once you have relationships with organizations that share data, it can be a valuable way to keep your organization moving forward and constantly striving to improve what you do.
There are also professional benchmarking organizations you can join and share data within your industry.
Networking at your professional conferences is also a good way to identify these types of organizations.
It’s amazing what we can learn from others if we just take the time to ask.
Benchmarking is a great way to find those best practices that will help your organization improve!
Do you have any examples of benchmarking projects that helped your organization improve?