Benchmarking is a very powerful tool – a process improvement tool – that can deliver tremendous improvement to any organization. Even though benchmarking has been in use since the early eighties, there are many misunderstandings about it.  Please see Benchmarking Jargon to find out more about what benchmarking can do; what benchmarking is and what it is not; and its language.  It is important to realize that benchmarking is a lot more than simply collecting the benchmarks.

Critical success factors

There are many definitions for benchmarking given by different pioneers of benchmarking.  We at PAG define benchmarking as “learning from others to improve yourself“.   Based on this definition we believe the following to be critical success factors for benchmarking projects:

  1. Need for significant change
    Benchmarking studies are time-consuming and costly.  A full benchmarking study is used when potential for improvement is in excess of 30%.  There are other more cost efficient processes to achieve improvement less than 30%.
  2. Desire to learn and improve
    Benchmarking is all about learning.  Resist the temptation to simply compare benchmark measurements to gauge performance.  Focus on learning from the right partners and improvements will follow.
  3. Front line involvement
    Like every other project the true learning and improvement is achieved when the front line employees are involved.  They are subject matter experts.  Their involvement encourages employee buy-in to any changes.  Bring them on board as early as possible.
  4. Executive support
    Involve your executive champions in your efforts early and often.  Gain their support by providing up-to-date progress reports and seeking their input.  Make sure they know – and support – the direction that you are taking and look for ways to address their concerns.
  5. Sharp focus, narrow topic
    Narrow goals achieve deeper results.  A broad topic will only allow you to scratch the surface.  Do not attempt to boil the ocean in one study.
  6. Follow a solid methodology
    There are many approaches to benchmarking. Regardless of the number of steps in the methodology (we have seen anywhere between 4 and 12) successful benchmarking studies include assessing the current situation, finding the right partners, learning and utilizing such knowledge.
  7. Maintain your focus
    In the course of benchmarking activities the team will face many choices and options that could uncover additional interesting ideas in the areas outside the original scope.  Pursuing such interests, however, can and will take the project off course.  This results in too many solutions but none for the problem at hand.
  8. Do your homework
    Benchmarking involves many people from your partner companies.  Don’t expect them to deliver their knowledge on a silver platter.  Planning ensures your time with partners is well spent.  Gain their respect by making sure that you are ready and follow-up on your promises.

Why PAG?

At PAG we have conducted many benchmarking studies and were partnered with APQC’s benchmarking Café (for contact centers) on the following studies:

We also offer a one day benchmarking workshop to assist contact centres plan their own benchmarking study!