Why Benchmarking Will Save Your Business Butt!

Adriana Girdler

Seven Tips for Successful Benchmarking Let me paint you a picture. Senior executives from your organization are sitting around a board room table discussing what …

Seven Tips for Successful Benchmarking

Let me paint you a picture. Senior executives from your organization are sitting around a board room table discussing what the strategy for next year will be. Lots of great ideas are bantered about. This is, after all, the job of the senior executives, to be the visionaries for the company. Decisions are made and then they’re trickled down the corporate ladder. You are in the position of executing strategies and as you look at what was given to you, you groan “Oh why didn’t someone ask me for my opinion, this conflicts with our ways of working, not to mention our products and services”. Does this sound familiar?

This ‘picture’, unfortunately, is all too common. Great ideas at the top are discussed. The problem is these great ideas are not filtered through the reality of the company ways of working and are made on perception. Then they are ‘pushed’ down the ladder without thought or understanding of how it will impact the daily workings of the organization. When the idea finally gets to the individuals who have to implement the idea, there are gaps and issues not contemplated by the Senior Executives. This results in the middle management having to find creative ways to make things work. Sometimes at the expense of the essence of the original idea. The problem with this top down approach is the real workings of the organization are missed or not taken into consideration when key strategies are developed. Without looking at the organization from a holistic integrative perspective (top/down, bottom/up and laterally by understanding the impact to people and processes) you compromise the successful implementation of the company strategy.

How do you ensure company strategies are successfully implemented? By benchmarking prior to developing the strategy!

Benchmarking your organization or the area that the strategy will take place is the key to successful strategic implementation. When you take the time to talk to employees and walk through the area and process in real time it’s amazing how much clarity and knowledge you receive.

What are some tips for benchmarking in your organization?

Tip One: Plan it out ~ Give yourself 3 months to benchmark. This is a great average to work with as it allows you the time to gather your data prior to making decisions. Sorry, last minute benchmarking doesn’t work. You will have to be proactive and stop the reactive behaviour.

Tip Two: Get a sample ~ If it’s data or interviewing people, get a sample size of everyone/thing that is involved in the process/strategy. This ensures you cross your ‘t’s and dot your ‘i’s. Looking at the same thing from multiple vantage points has huge advantages.

Tip Three: Be prepared ~ Organize your questions, interview dates and general data. Do NOT do this on the fly. You need to think and walk through what you’ll be doing. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll forget or miss. This is part of the reason why you need time to prepare.

Tip Four: Quickly execute ~ Perfection is not needed. Hand drawings and raw data dropped in an excel sheet is ok. Making things look pretty is a nice to have, not a need to have. Your goal is to get the benchmark information so it can be used to guide strategic decision making.

Tip Five: Make firm decisions ~ Use this data to make your decision and stick to it. Someone may not believe that your data is correct. If you have a solid sample size and documented everything (even if it’s rough) it’s better than the perceived data. And don’t let someone of a higher position ‘convince’ you in changing your findings to make things look better. This is counterproductive and defeats the purpose of benchmarking which is to see things WITHOUT rose coloured glasses!

Tip Six: Use the data ~ Bring your benchmark information to the strategy meeting and make sure all decisions are filtered through the benchmarked information.

Tip Seven: Monitoring ~ Use your benchmark data to monitor your progress of the new process/strategy. Now you have a metric to measure your success against.

So stop scratching your head wondering why things are NOT going to plan. Understand how you work today so you can improve how you work tomorrow. Benchmarking just makes business sense!


Have you ever benchmarked before? If so, please share your story with us. Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!

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Adriana Girdler is a project manager, productivity specialist, entrepreneur, professional speaker, facilitator, visioning wizard, and author. As President of CornerStone Dynamics, Adriana is one of Canada’s prominent business productivity and project management specialists—helping both individuals and businesses do what they do, only better. She is a certified master black belt lean six sigma with over 20 years’ experience improving how companies work.

She also holds both PMP (project management professional) and CET (certified engineering technologist) designations. She’s a Tedx speaker, as well as a HuffPost and Thrive Global contributor. She has been interviewed on Global, CBC, CTV, CHCH, 680News Radio, Newstalk 1010, Sirius XM and published in the Globe and Mail and numerous industry magazines. WANT ADRIANA'S FREE ONLINE TRAINING? In 45 min, learn Adriana's 5 project management secrets she use on EVERY project. Sign up for the Free Webinar here: THE FAB FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

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