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Benchmarking

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Definition

Benchmarking is the process of comparing your company’s products, services or processes to the “best in class” companies. Such a comparison helps to set a direction for the long-term strategy planning and continuous improvement actions of the company. Once this information is obtained, the gap between the company’s processes and those of the world class company can be assessed and a gap analysis can be performed to understand what processes must be improved and how, in order to become more competitive and aligned with the changing needs of the marketplace.

Benchmarking information may be obtained from a variety of sources, both internal and external. Among these are: the internet, facility visits, company publications, industry publications and trade journals, third party studies, public financial reports, product tear-downs and last but not the least, books on benchmarking data.
A caution: while benchmarking is a good first step to improve performance, it is important not to fall into the trap of following rather than leading - while it helps you align with the current best in class, it doesn't guarantee that you become the best that you can be.

External Links

Benchmarking Resources from APQC - Articles, Whitepapers, Case Studies and Publications - http://www.apqc.org/portal/apqc/site/generic?path=/site/benchmarking/free_resources.jhtml Benchmarking Overview - American Society for Quality (ASQ) - http://www.asq.org/learn-about-quality/benchmarking/overview/overview.html Articles on benchmarking from iSixSigma: - http://www.isixsigma.com/me/benchmarking/