Benchmarking

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Identification
Intent or purpose: 
The purpose of this technique is to improve certain procedures by looking at more successful examples.
Recognizable Components: 
The most important and essential component for this method is research.
Types of Participants: 
Any types of participants can be involved in this process.
Recommended size of group: 
unknown
Remarks about group size: 
The group can be of any size.
Optimal amount of time needed: 
The time that is needed varies according to the problem, and can be between days and years.
Howto
Usual or Expected Outcomes: 
The outcome will be an implementation plan, stating possible solutions detailed.
Level of participation: 
The level of participation is high, as a lot of time and other resources are needed.
Ideal Conditions: 
There are no special conditions needed.
Potential Pitfalls: 
A potential pitfall would be choosing the wrong companies to focus on.
How is success evaluated: 
The process is successful when the client managed to improve the organization's processes.
Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: 
A special Facilitator-Client Relationship is not neccesary.
Level of Difficulty to Facilitate: 
Not set
Facilitator Personality Fit: 
The facilitator does not need any particular characteristics.
Setting and Materials: 
Material as such is not needed, however there will be a list of travel expenses when visiting other companies or organizations.
Resources Needed: 
For this process, other companies or organizations are needed, which appear to be successful and are willing to help the struggling company.
Pre-Work Required: 
The facilitator has to get acquainted with the problematic area.
Procedures: 

Overall, there are basic steps that a facilitator should implement with the client. Due to the fact that Benchmarking can be applied in business process or function, there are various research techniques that may be required such as informal conversations with customers, employees, or suppliers; exploratory research techniques such as focus groups; or in-depth marketing research, quantitative research, surveys, questionnaires, re-engineering analysis, process mapping, quality control variance reports, or financial ratio analysis.

Step 1: Identifying the problematic areas

The first and essential step to this technique is to know the organization's function(s) and process(es) in which problems occur. Only when these two elements are clear, it is possible to compare the problematic area to others.

Step 2: Identifying other industries that have similar processes

Now, a company, organization or group has to be identified that serves similar purposes but emerges to work well. The organization in focus does not have to do exactly the same, but does have to have similar processes. Of course it makes sense to look at the leaders in the respective area, no matter which industry or country. Here, customers, suppliers, financial analysts, trade associations, and magazines can be consulted so as to find out which organizations are worth studying.

Step 3: Survey companies for measures and practices

Surveys are usually masked to protect confidential information by neutral associations and consultants. With these it is possible to research specific business processes detailed, and find out about alternatives of other companies.
Then, the company with the best, or one of the best procedures should be visited. Typically, companies do agree to exchange information to all parties in a benchmarking project, and then share the results within the group.

Step 4: Implement new and improved business practices

The last, and again very important step is to of course put the new ideas and information into action. The facilitator should, together with the client develop an implementation plan. This plan should include a specific identification of the given opportunities and how to put them into action. On a constant base, the success of this implementation plan should be supervised, and in case of failure, the process should be repeated.

How flexible is the process?: 
The process is very flexible in terms of the problem dealt with, and the estimated time.
Follow-Up Required: 
There is no follow-up requiered.
Background
References: 
1. Beating the competition: a practical guide to Benchmarking. Washington, DC: Kaiser Associates. 1988. pp. 176. ISBN 978-1563650185. 2. Camp, R. (1989). The search for industry best practices that lead 2 superior performance. Productivity Press. 3. Benchmarking: How to Make the Best Decisions for Your Practice 4. Body of Knowledge on Infrastructure Regulation "Incentive Regulation: Basic forms of Regulation"
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