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Preparation

In the preparation phase you plan your benchmarking process and identify:

Every part of every business has 'outputs' — whether it be physical products or intangible services — that it delivers to internal or external customers. It is these outputs, or more precisely measurements of these outputs, that will be the subjects of your benchmarking exercise.

Usually, you will benchmark yourself against competitors in your own field: an engineering company will benchmark itself against another engineering company and a media company will benchmark the best in its field. This is probably the best approach when you are looking at the whole company, but when you are considering a function such as training, you should not allow yourself to be restricted — you should identify the best training organisations no matter in what company they are to be found.

Collecting the data can be done through desk-based research by reading reports, articles and carrying out literature and Internet searches. Google is one of the many search engines that can be used for this purpose.

Diagnosis

In the diagnosis phase you collect and analyse the data by:

Not only do you need to establish how far the 'benchmark organisations' are ahead of you, but you also need to understand how they have achieved their lead. It is also very important to understand what these companies future levels of performance will be otherwise you will always be playing 'catch up' and will never be in a leadership position.

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