If data could talk its favorite line just might be “I told you so.” We recently compared an app taken by senior-level execs last June with one run last week on a smaller segment within their organization. The June results predicted a decline in market trends. Sure enough, Last week’s results show a 10% drop in just eight months!
What does this say about benchmarking?
1. Do it!
Without a standard, you have no way to measure progress. Setting an initial benchmark is the first step in measuring subsequent success or failure (hopefully success). Every executive wants satisfied employees, efficient processes, and a larger profit margin, but without effective benchmarking even the most meticulously designed initiative will go untested and unevaluated. If you’re planning an effort aimed at improving some part of your business, start with a baseline assessment. You’ll get the benchmark you need to determine whether you’ve moved forward or backward six months down the road. Selecting the right type of benchmark can be complex and sometimes quite intimidating. However, the process does not have to be overwhelming.
But taking the time to run a baseline can also boost your strategy formulation.
2. Standardize it.
It is not enough to create benchmarks; these standards of measurements require some objective criteria for evaluation. In fact, benchmarking from inadequate measure can be quite counterproductive if the standards for benchmarking are too narrow or based on poor sampling techniques. Often, it is tempting to overgeneralize successes and establish standards of measurement that are both unrealistic and unhelpful. It takes longer to undo the damage of inadequate benchmarking and ultimately sets companies back. Using some objective means of benchmarking helps reduce the risk of poor benchmarking and thereby increase valuation of an offering. How do you establish those objective criteria? Run a baseline.
3. Data-driven benchmarks drive effective strategies.
Any business executive or employee can tell you that there’s at least one, and probably a lot more, things you could do to improve your organization. There is never a shortage of what needs to be changed. But how do you prioritize the multitude of ideas? Gut instinct? Listen to the loudest voices? Without a social approach it’s anyone’s guess as to what is the best idea. Running a baseline assessment gives you solid data to determine what’s wrong, why it’s wrong, and where to focus your efforts first.
So run a baseline. You’ll get powerful data about your business and the power to quickly and simply measure success in 3 months and 3 years.
By now something should be obvious. Benchmarking is inextricably linked with the 9Lenses baseline. Although some people might have questions about how this works or why baselines are so critical, those who have gathered the courage to take the 9Lenses challenge have discovered the immense benefits of the process.