What is the fundamental purpose of benchmarking, and what does it mean to your customers and your business? The Webster dictionary defines benchmarking as, “the study of a competitors product or business practices in order to improve the performance of one’s own company”. Seems easy enough – yet according to most trade publications, statistically most organizations and service providers rarely obtain any measurable value through their benchmarking efforts. They pay top dollar for benchmarking services, obtain the data, but ultimately fail to incorporate into their overall management strategies in order to improve their business model. The question is, why?
Clearly, within both the Facilities Management and Facility Services industries, there is a specific need to balance the requirement for superior service quality and safety against cost. If you don’t know what the standard is you cannot compare yourself against it. A “benchmark” is a standard by which something can be measured or judged. Without benchmarks, an organization cannot effectively measure its productivity or quality on any meaningful level. In short, if you can’t measure your business, it becomes difficult to effectively manage your business, not to mention improve it!
Toward that end, forward thinking organizations often genuinely strive to engineer service quality and safety into every facet of their work processes, technology systems, and basic business practices to ensure that their clients see the greatest possible return on each quality and safety dollar invested. These “returns” can be measured in innovations in service performance and delivery methods, “sustainable” cost savings, improvements in both efficiency and productivity, and a focus on continuous improvement strategies.
Effective benchmarking allows us to confirm our delivery process is amongst the most innovative within our particular industry. Moreover, when communicated properly, benchmarking allows us to more effectively collaborate with our clients, articulating both service and cost value through data and service performance metrics. After all, shouldn’t data lead us to the right conclusions?
Do you want increased longevity and loyalty within your client engagements? Benchmarking is a valuable tool that fosters an environment for improvement in both cost, schedule, delivery, and quality of services rendered.
So why benchmark?
- To identify and implement cost controls and savings initiatives
- To provide trend analysis and visibility to cost drivers
- To provide an understanding of the cost and value to others within our industry
- To provide a forum for exploring innovations that yield measurable benefits to our business and customers
According to Kendall Saville, Director of Business Development at Aramark Corporation, “Benchmarking has allowed our company to deliver improved services and innovation to our clients, while containing costs. Through the benchmarking process we are able to quantify the impact of optimized solution design, giving clients a measurable indication of the value we deliver.”
When properly used and implemented, benchmarks are a powerful and effective management tool that leads to improvement in production, employee work-loading, cycle time, safety performance, and overall cost competitiveness. To be sure, not all service providers are created equal, and the proper use of benchmarking allows a business to effectively “tell that story”.
It’s up to you to determine what story you ultimately want to tell!
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