How to Use Benchmarking Data & Findings
In our last article, we laid out the four steps for defining and embarking upon a benchmarking initiative for your company, to see how it stacks up against its peers along the metrics you select. We taught you how to outline the scope of the project, define its relevant KPIs, source and compile your data, and make a presentation of your findings.
In this article, we’re going put all that work… to work. If your benchmarking effort is ever going to deliver tangible business benefits, now is the time.
It’s not quite as easy as 1, 2, 3, but we’re still going to present it that way.
Step 1: Identify and prioritize performance gaps
Using your newly-analyzed data, begin to target specific areas for improvement. Look for places where results can be attained quickly, and/or those areas which would yield the biggest/most demonstrable impact for the business.
OpsDog best-practice tips: Shoot for “quick wins.” These are considered improvements that can be implemented without significant technology changes, excessive approvals, or regulatory interference. Contrast that to, say, an improvement that requires the involvement of IT staff or a third-party vendor. Push that one back until later if possible.
Step 2: Document and implement best practices
Now that you’ve performed your gap analysis and triage, you can start making these improvements happen. (Ta-dah!) Begin by documenting individual improvements, or best practices, that can be applied to day-to-day operations to close the performance gaps you’ve identified. Draft a plan to implement these best practices, and assign employees and managers to oversee various aspects of its implementation.
Don’t simply expect this to happen as if by magic. Nothing will change, and all your efforts will be for naught, unless you gain employee-level buy-in first.
Boy is that important. We’ll repeat it: Nothing will change without employee-level buy-in.
So how do you do it?
Sell it. Demonstrate the value of adopting each new best practice, such as:
- It takes less time to do!
- It requires fewer administrative steps!
- You’ll gain more time for other tasks!
- Your boss will notice and you’ll be more likely to get that raise!
If necessary, incentivize employees to adopt and champion the best practices you’ve identified.
OpsDog best-practice tips: Each best practice to be implemented should be accompanied by an operational “change order,” similar to what might be used for a construction project. Each of these orders should document:
- The improvement opportunity, i.e., what is being fixed and why.
- The best practice, i.e., how to fix it.
- The responsible parties, i.e., employees, managers.
The orders should also include start/finish dates. Use a master Excel file (or similar) to track the implementation date of each best practice.
Step 3: Continuously measure progress
As you implement your best practices, you should develop reports and/or dashboards to accurately gauge the impact of the operational changes underway.
Remember the KPIs you’d originally selected to track? Remember the baseline internal data you’d gathered just before you performed your analysis? These should be used in the design of your reports.
To maximize their specific effectiveness, reports should be provided to each manager impacted by the effort, clearly comparing:
- Past performance.
- Current performance.
- Target performance.
If, after best practices have been implemented, you’re not seeing the resulting performance trending upward for the associated KPIs, you’ll need to make adjustments. It could be that the best practices haven’t been implemented properly, or that ineffective (and misnamed!) best practices were selected, or the wrong KPIs were chosen, etc.
OpsDog best-practice tips: Use the implementation date for your different best practices as the starting point from which to measure their effectiveness (or lack thereof).
For example, if a best practice was implemented on Monday, and a direct impact for certain related KPIs was demonstrated on Wednesday, then you need to gain access to the roof of the building and shout it out to the world! Um, we mean “the indications would suggest that this best practice resulted in an immediate positive impact.” (Oh what the heck. You should still celebrate.)
Addendum: Maintaining Momentum
Sustaining any benefits that you realize via benchmarking and best-practices implementation requires continuous monitoring and adjustment. Indeed, benchmarking should be conducted every one to two years to ensure that any performance targets that you’ve set are still relevant.
You’re Even Smarter
If you’re reading this sentence, odds are you’ve now read all of the articles in our Benchmarking article series. What could be better? Well, our next set of articles—about dashboards and analytics—are sure to help you, and your business.
And help yourself to our big, bad bounty of benchmarking reports that you can easily download. All that external data… just a click away!Back to All Resources