AuthorJames Koch, Laurie Hillstrom

Page 38

Benchmarking is the process through which a company measures its products, services, and practices against its toughest competitors, or those companies recognized as leaders in its industry. Benchmarking is one of a manager's best tools for determining whether the company is performing particular functions and activities efficiently, whether its costs are in line with those of competitors, and whether its internal activities and business processes need improvement. The idea behind benchmarking is to measure internal processes against an external standard. It is a way of learning which companies are best at performing certain activities and functions and then imitating—or better still, improving on—their techniques.

Benchmarking focuses on company-to-company comparisons of how well basic functions and processes are performed. Among many possibilities, it may look at how materials are purchased, suppliers are paid, inventories are managed, employees are trained, or payrolls are processed; at how fast the company can get new products to market; at how the quality control function is performed; at how customer orders are filled and shipped; and at how maintenance is performed.

Benchmarking enables managers to determine what the best practice is, to prioritize opportunities for improvement, to enhance performance relative to customer expectations, and to leapfrog the traditional cycle of change. It also helps managers to understand the most accurate and efficient means of performing an activity, to learn how lower costs are actually achieved, and to take action to improve a company's cost competitiveness. As a result, benchmarking has been used in many companies as a tool for obtaining a competitive advantage.

Companies usually undertake benchmarking with a view towards the many improvements that it may offer. These benefits include reducing labor cost, streamlining the work flow through reengineered business processes and common administrative systems, improving data center operations through consolidation and downsizing, cooperative business and information technology planning, implementing new technology, outsourcing some assignments and functions, redesigning the development and support processes, and restructuring and reorganizing the information technology functions.


The goal of benchmarking is to identify the weaknesses within an organization and improve upon them, with the idea of becoming the "best of the best." The benchmarking process helps managers to find gaps in performance and turn them into opportunities for improvement. Benchmarking enables companies to identify the most successful strategies used by other companies of comparable size, type, or regional location, and then adopt relevant measures to make their own programs more efficient. Most companies apply benchmarking as part of a broad strategic process. For example, companies use benchmarking in order to find breakthrough ideas for improving processes, to support quality improvement programs, to motivate staffs to improve performance, and to satisfy management's need for competitive assessments.

Benchmarking targets roles, processes, and critical success factors. Roles are what define...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT