Benchmarking – searching for enablers in other organizations that boost performance

Benchmarking is the process of measuring activity within your organization to that of a peer (either within the organization, within the market or outside the marketplace). Benchmarking is utilized to facilitate the transfer of best practice into the organization initiating the benchmarking.

The key to successful benchmarking is identifying appropriate processes that can be measured (and compared). A process is a series of steps and activities that turn an input into an output.

Benchmarking requires a level of analysis and is reliant on collecting measurements of the process being benchmarked. Processes will therefore need to generate data that can be collated and deployed as a metric. For example if we look at a manufacturing process it will consist of a series of steps from the printing of a work pack or job list, through to issuing raw material through to the manufacturing process itself. Each activity within the process could be analyzed to form a detailed view of the process and facilitate highly effective benchmarking at a detailed level.

Once data has been collected on the process – benchmarking requires that assess and investigate results that indicate better performance in your selected peer group. Where areas of better performance can be seen the rationale behind these needs to be determined. What are the enablers that result in these efficiencies?

An enabler is something that can influence the outcome or effectiveness of a process. For example in a manufacturing process where a piece of metal is bent into a particular shape enablers could be considered to be:

Condition of the raw material
Condition of the pressing machine
Training and experience of the machine operator
Process and work-instructions on activity

Enablers, or the quality of the enabler, can have a dramatic impact on a process. Benchmarking often highlights the use of these enablers to achieve increased levels of performance – the benchmarking organization can then determine the opportunities to integrate these into existing processes.

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