Benchmarking is a core component of a consulting firm’s service portfolio. With benchmarking, consultants provide third party data and expertise that their clients could not produce themselves. They’re able to use the collective knowledge of their engagements to build a data backbone to their client assessments. Benchmarking allows consultants to use a data-based approach in all of their engagements. They can establish a point of view for thought leadership and lead their business development conversations with this data.
At least this is what they should be doing. Too often consultants use inconsistent diagnosis in their problem identification and fail to connect their learnings between engagements. Or they find the amount of spreadsheet manipulation and data science muscle needed to consistently benchmark results daunting. The real issue is that they are not adopting a digital approach and leveraging the power of benchmarking software. They’re becoming what the New York times calls “data janitors.”
Automate Benchmarking, Don’t Be A Data Janitor
Benchmarking software eliminates the need for vast teams collating data in spreadsheets and manually copying and pasting data from cells. Instead, software automates the process by mapping each question back to the root data set. Your data scientists and business analysts can then spend more time analyzing and crafting sound recommendations and less time on non-value-adding activities. Moreover, manually benchmarking your data limits the universe of data you’re capturing and limits the effectiveness of your data. Without automated analytics, consultants cannot acquire a full picture of the data, and the benchmarking suffers from tunnel vision.
Tunnel vision can be dangerous to companies because it means that they consider only certain facets of the data, while they ignore others that might change the outcome entirely. As a result, tunnel vision can give companies and their consultants the false impression that they are succeeding when they are not, resulting in poor decision making. “Smart” benchmarking requires analyzing a considerable amount of data and examining it from a variety of different angles. Realistically, consultants should aim to automate this kind of robust data crunching with benchmarking software. Firms that are still performing benchmark services manually, using spreadsheets and hard drives, will quickly find themselves error prone and digitally surpassed by those that are using technology to achieve automation.
Robust business benchmarking involves automation in each step of the process. With automation, consultants do not have to limit the amount of data they use. Nor do they have to reduce the number of ways they sort the data to get a full picture for the client. The 9Lenses software illustrates how consultants can build automation into each step of the process.
9Lenses’ 3 Step Process Using Benchmarking Software
- Our patent protected data model structure allows for benchmarking in a software platform rather than a spreadsheet that lives on a hard drive. This ensures that the model is easily shareable throughout the firm and stored safely in the cloud. Our company name derives from the data model approach to business analysis that I developed. Using our platform, consultants and executives can leverage our model or create their own to structure their data and ultimately feed their benchmarks.
- Mapping the topic areas of your assessment enables the data to be sorted automatically as it is collected. Consultants can ensure that they sufficiently cover every part of the data model in the assessment and leave no angle unexamined. With the 9Lenses software, you can map your model up to three layers, allowing for a nuanced picture of the data.
- Automated data collection is important because it enables consultants to collect far more data than a manual process would allow. As data is collected through the benchmarking assessment, the 9Lenses platform maps it automatically to the data model and feeds into reports.
- Finally, analysis must be automated in order to avoid tunnel vision and costly manual errors. Consultants need dynamic data that they can manipulate in order to discover new insights. Once consultants collect the data, the 9Lenses platform allows consultants to analyze it thoroughly without the danger of manual errors. The data lives in infinitely sortable methods within the platform.
Benchmarking is a powerful tool for today’s consultants. But only if automation and benchmarking software keep you from becoming a data janitor. Are your benchmarking services automated, or could your conclusions be suffering from manual errors and a limited scope?