Businesses are expected to deliver good quality products and services which are not only defect free, but also which are being manufactured or developed more efficiently (more cost effective and faster) than before. Hence there is a constant need for continuous improvement of overall performance within an organization.
There is always a need to improve previous performance metrics of one’s own organization, or a competitor’s performance or that of the whole industry. We can achieve this continuous improvement in performance through the process named “Benchmarking”.
Benchmarking is a way of discovering what is the best performance being achieved so far and use that as the starting reference for raising the performance targets for future. This information can then be used to identify gaps in an organization’s processes and improving them in order to achieve a competitive advantage.
Benchmarking is one of the most fundamental tools and techniques of modern quality management, which revolves around customer satisfaction, standard processes and continuous process improvement.
Benchmarking involves the following five phases:
It is imperative that the organization does adequate planning before embarking into the process. It includes planning the following:
Information needs to be collected which include the primary data and secondary data. Primary data refers to collection of data directly from the benchmarked organization/organizations itself, while secondary data refers to information generated from the media, publications or internet. Data can be collected suitable techniques as planned.
All collected data is analysed to understand the gaps in actual and expected performance. The root causes of all such gaps are analysed and ascertained for finding appropriate solutions for the root causes.
Actual solutions steps are designed for each root cause of the gaps. And such actions and solutions are being implemented for achieving the improvement in expected performance. This will involve actual changes incorporated into the benchmarked activities and processes so that the gaps are not only narrowed down, but are also eliminated leading to the expected performance target achievement.
A regular and systematic evaluation of progress made and improvements achieved in the key performance indicators from the above implementation has to be carried out through the benchmarking process. If required, there will be a need to adjust the overall benchmarking strategy of planning, data collection and implementation of new changes in the benchmarked activities until expected improvements are achieved.
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