Why benchmarking is necessary

28th March 2018
Corporate Sun


By Neoyaone Poifo

should not be a friend to mediocrity because it will slowly lead your business to its death. As the saying goes; he who does not travel thinks his mother is a great cook. Minimising risks and avoiding to get out of a comfort zone is a condition that most have. Naturally, people are curious beings and fear change at the same time. The contradiction of this, is almost ironic. Business dictionary describes benchmarking as a measurement of the quality of an organisation’s policies, products, programmes and strategies and their comparison with standard measurements, or similar measurements of its peers. The main objective for benchmarking is to measure an organisation’s internal processes against external standard. Through benchmarking, managers are able to determine which methods and practices are best for the organisation, to enhance performance and drive for customer excellence and also to look for ways to improve. The mistake we sometimes make is, we go out there and benchmark; we get everything and come back with the information and knowledge, then we don’t implement. The only way to improve is to actually put our knowledge into practice. The key thing is implementation of the strategies and processes that are acquired through benchmarking. If I may give a metaphorical example; you have a bucket with water and you get a bigger bucket and transfer the water into the bigger bucket, changing the size of the bucket does not increase the volume of the water. In this instance, the bucket is the knowledge (before and after benchmarking) and the water is the results (before and after benchmarking). An organisation can decide to benchmark any time, there is no said or standard period on when to benchmark. Therefore, it is necessary to exercise the principle of 4W’s and H: Why? When? Who? What? How?

Why? The ‘why’ principle will help in establishing why you should benchmark. This question is vital and as a manager you should be able to answer it. In the book of Benchmarking: A Tool for Continuous Improvement (1993), C. J. McNair and Kathleen H. J. Leibfried gives us pointers on why we should benchmark. To establish meaningful goals and performance measures that reflect an external focus, foster thinking and focus on high – payoff opportunities. To promote teamwork that is based on competitive need and is driven by concrete data analysis, not intuition or gut feeling. To signal management’s willingness to pursue a philosophy that embraces change in a proactive manner rather than reactive manner.

When? It is said that benchmarking can be done in any season but mostly, companies benchmark when there is a need for it. For example, if maybe the organisation’s strategies have become obsolete and does not yield expected results; or if the organisation’s overall performance has hit rock bottom and needs to be revived. So it is solely up to management to see when it is necessary. Are you going to wait for crisis to happen and race against time before you can benchmark or are you going to prepare ahead of time and be better equipped to succeed in your industry?

Who?Someone said, ‘become friends with people who aren’t your age. Hang out with people whose first language isn’t the same as yours. Get to know someone who doesn’t come from your social class. This is how you see the world. This is how you grow.’ It is always better and wiser to copy from those above you in terms of experience, knowledge and status hierarchy. Establish ‘the big fish’ in the industry and approach them.

What? Is your main focus on strategic, roles, performance or processes issues? Establish the need in your organisation and fulfil it.



The internet has made business life easy. Electronic surveys to collect benchmark data can be done through the internet. How you benchmark depends on the available resources (it can be people or tools) and where you will be sourcing your information.

Your business might be thriving and sustaining itself, but in everything we are doing, no matter how well we are doing it, there is always room for improvement. You can never reach a threshold when it comes to success. As the Setswana saying goes: moroto wa esi ga o ele.

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