Benchmarking is an Important Research Tool

I am little bit shocked. For the past 2 days I facilitated an Effective Communication & Stakeholder Management Master class at one of our local hotels for a conference organization.

One of the topics that I dealt with, was that of Strategic Communication. Emphasizing the importance of research, I asked the audience whether they used benchmarking as part of their secondary research methods. The audience which consisted primarily of communication practitioners did not know what I meant. This is worrying. Benchmarking is such an important research tool and can shorten the learning curve or reveal important gaps.

To help these delegates, I have prepared the following article which readers might find useful.

What is Benchmarking?

Benchmarking is an objective & analytical technique that compares a firm’s business processes with those of other companies that achieved recognition for excellence for a specific process or function. With other words, if you are designing and writing a strategic communications plan, find out what others are doing. Why re-invent the wheel?

The goal is to identify and profile another organisation that achieved radical improvements, which significantly impacted their bottom line or reputation.

Benchmarking is not limited to a company’s financial performance, or industry. It’s a process that seeks to identify a company’s best qualities, regardless of industry. It focuses on practices used by industry-leading companies who constantly increase market share and profit margins by using radically better processes than their competitors.

This means you’re looking for companies that do something better than anyone else, in order to learn how they do it, so you can incorporate their processes into your inductive business plan. Thus Communication processes and/or Reputation can be benchmarked.

The most frequently used benchmarking tactics are:

ACTIVITY BENCHMARKING, which is directed at converting such support processes as order processing, project management, inventory, customer service, accounting and information technology into a competitive advantage.

COMPETITIVE BENCHMARKING, which compares a company’s processes, products and services against that of industry leading competitors.

WORLD CLASS BENCHMARKING extends the activity beyond your own industry. It looks at who is best irrespective of the industry.

It’s used for those processes that are generic of nature, plus such activities as product development, engineering, manufacturing, and customer service. At least half the new technologies that transform an industry come from outside the industry itself. Also, by seeking the "best of the best" of non-industry standards, instead of the ‘"best of breed" in your own industry, you can leapfrog over your competitors.

The lesson – Benchmark your organisation’s Reputation building processes, communication and crisis management against best practices. That will assist you to build a sustainable lasting reputation for the future.