A long term research method and process that requires a project manager using facilitation methods in its application
The purpose of this technique is to improve certain procedures and/or structures by looking at successful examples.
- Engage with other companies or organizations which appear to be successful and are willing to help the struggling company.
- travel expenses if visiting other companies or organizations.
- research tools may be required
Types of participants: Participants who are involved should be knowledgeable about the process or structure to be improved.
Time needed: The time that is needed varies according to the problem, and can be between days and years.
Pre-Work Required: The facilitator has to get acquainted with the problematic area.
Overall, there are basic steps that a facilitator should implement with the client. Due to the fact that benchmarking can be applied in business process or function, there are various research techniques that may be required such as informal conversations with customers, employees, or suppliers; exploratory research techniques such as focus groups; or in-depth marketing research, quantitative research, surveys, questionnaires, re-engineering analysis, process mapping, quality control variance reports, or financial ratio analysis.
Step 1: Identifying the problematic areas
The first and essential step to this technique is to know the organization's function(s) and process(es) in which problems occur. Only when these two elements are clear, it is possible to compare the problematic area to others.
Step 2: Identifying other industries that have similar processes
Now, a company, organization or group has to be identified that serves similar purposes but emerges to work well. The organization in focus does not have to do exactly the same, but does have to have similar processes. Of course it makes sense to look at the leaders in the respective area, no matter which industry or country. Here, customers, suppliers, financial analysts, trade associations, and magazines can be consulted so as to find out which organizations are worth studying.
Step 3: Survey companies for measures and practices
Surveys are usually masked to protect confidential information by neutral associations and consultants. With these it is possible to research specific business processes detailed, and find out about alternatives of other companies.
Then, the company with the best, or one of the best procedures should be visited. Typically, companies do agree to exchange information to all parties in a Benchmarking project, and then share the results within the group.
Step 4: Implement new and improved business practices
The last, and again very important step is to of course put the new ideas and information into action. The facilitator should, together with the client develop an implementation plan. This plan should include a specific identification of the given opportunities and how to put them into action. On a constant base, the success of this implementation plan should be supervised, and in case of failure, the process should be repeated.
Follow-Up Required: There is no follow-up required.
Usual or Expected Outcomes: The outcome will be an implementation plan, stating possible solutions detailed.
Potential pitfalls: A potential pitfall would be choosing the wrong companies to focus on.
How success is evaluated: The process is successful when the client managed to improve the organization's processes.
Recognizable components: The most important and essential component for this method is research.