Benchmarking can play a critical role in the successful ongoing business of an organization. There is a lot to gain from constantly evaluating your products and processes to ensure that they are in line with current industry standards, as well as to see where you stand compared to the competition. There are a lot of intricate details to consider when setting up a benchmarking process in your organization though, and there are some points that can be important to consider.
1. Work with Actual Data
This may seem like an obvious one, but you would be surprised how many companies sometimes miss this point. Just because you have some data sets already collected doesn’t necessarily mean that they are still relevant for your current situation. It’s a good idea to have a system in place that automatically runs a periodic evaluation of the data you are benchmarking against. Depending on where you are getting your data from, this might not always be so straightforward to implement. This also makes it important to ensure that you are in sufficient control of those information channels.
2. Revise Your Benchmarking Processes
Just like your benchmarking data, the processes themselves might gradually become obsolete over time. This is particularly true when working with certain types of advanced technology, such as microelectronics. It might even be necessary to completely rebuild your benchmarking system from time to time in order to keep up with current trends. And yes, this can occasionally mean that it’s not cost effective to keep your benchmarking system fully up to date. It’s a tradeoff you will need to consider carefully.
3. Ensure There Is No Random Variance
Even a small change in details can sometimes throw off your benchmarking results significantly. You should put as much effort as you reasonably can into making sure that the influence of random external factors is kept to a bare minimum. Sometimes you unfortunately can’t do anything to avoid those random deviations, in which case you will have to rely on statistical analysis methods to align the results properly. It can still make sense to work with data with randomness in it, as long as this is accounted for in your main processes.
4. Benchmark Against Yourself
Another point that some may see as obvious, but an important one nonetheless. It’s not only good to know where you stand compared to your competition, but against your own past work as well. This means that you should run benchmarks against old versions of your products where appropriate, and investigate any regressions in the tested variables. Of course it’s not always the case that a new product will improve upon an old one in every parameter, but as long as you have enough knowledge of your specific industry, you should have a good intuition for that in the first place.
5. Don’t Always Make Your Results Public
Sharing your benchmarking results can have various positive effects. It can be a useful marketing tool when the results are impressive compared to your main competitors, for example. However, this data can also be quite valuable to those same competitors themselves, as it lets them know exactly how far behind you they are. This can have some serious implications in the progress of those companies, so be careful. On the other hand, it’s not rare to set up a mutually beneficial agreement with a competitor in which you share results with each other.
6. Don’t Overengineer for the Sake of Benchmarking Results
If your benchmark results are satisfying, you shouldn’t put any unnecessary extra effort into trying to improve them just for the sake of obtaining better results next time. This kind of defeats the point of benchmarking in the first place, which is to let you focus your effort in areas where it truly matters.
7. Store and Organize Your Results Meticulously
Last but definitely not least, appropriate organization of your benchmarking results plays an integral role in the future success of those tests. The more historic data you have available, the better will be able to run comparisons later on. Just make sure that the data is easy to access and sort through – it doesn’t matter how detailed your records may be when they are also difficult to navigate.