If you’ve followed this benchmarking series, you know there has been a lot of information shared around benchmarking peer groups or those you compare yourself to when you conduct a benchmarking project. My message in this post is that you don’t have to go outside of your own organization or value chain to get highly relevant information to help you solve your pressing organizational problems.
Don’t ignore what is available
A lot of times, “right now” far outweighs “right”. You have an issue, something is really broken, or your boss just told you to “get it fixed!” and you have to act quickly. You can do a general search of the public domain, but that will rarely give you the detail you need. Start with these approaches. After all, the purpose of benchmarking is positive change. Stay focused on that, not the theoretical debates about peer group relevance.
- Smart people with a purpose – There is a lot to be said for really smart people with a purpose. If it is really broken, start with a group of the key stakeholders and those with the technical expertise about the problem at hand. Have some frank conversations. You’ll really need a strong facilitator (maybe bring in an external facilitator). If you do things as simple as map the process in question or look at the problem from the eyes of the customer, you will invariably find immediate opportunities for positive change.
- Other groups within your organization – Don’t ignore the relevance of other teams or operating units within your organization. By far, the hardest part of any benchmarking effort is gaining participation from benchmarking partners; those issues are lessened if they are within the same company. I guarantee you are not the only person, team, or group within your organization to deal with the problem you are experiencing, and if you are, you’ve got more brains on the problem. That is always a good thing.
- Key Suppliers – In most of today’s organizations, suppliers are integral to your success. Many times they know your organization better than you do because they aren’t immersed in it like you are. If they are a supplier that works directly with process being examined, they have probably seen the problems you are looking to solve from a different perspective. They also have a vested interest in working with you. If you’re successful and healthy, so are they. Tap them as a resource.
- Key Customers – Similar to suppliers, tap this resource. Some organizations might worry about exposing a “problem” to a customer, but, if it is a problem that is big enough to warrant the focus you are giving it, I imagine they have already experienced it. The perspectives they can offer will help you better understand the problem and solution.
So, don’t feel like you always have to go outside your organization or business ecosystem to get your benchmarking needs met. They might be right in front of you.