Benchmarking and assessments: 8 questions that will improve your studies and results

Here are eight points to consider when assessing your performance and benchmarking with others.
By Shon Isenhour December 24, 2014

Here are eight points to consider when assessing your performance and benchmarking with others. Here are eight points to consider when assessing your performance and benchmarking with others. These are based on the seventy plus assessments I have been involved in during the last ten years and the struggles I have seen during those and other assessments.

Does your assessment or benchmarking study have the following: 

Volume – Does the assessment have more than just yes or no questions? Does it look into the amount of application of the concept or element or just the existence? For example, does it ask "Do you have planners?" or "What percentage of work is fully planned?" or as a second example "Do you use work orders?" or "What percentage of your craft hours is captured on a work order?" The second question in each provides the element of volume. This demonstrates the penetration of the concept into the way the site does business not just whether they have pockets of excellence in one area.

Detail – Do you have enough data and detail in each of the sections or elements of the assessment? Do you get a complete picture of the components that make up the element being assessed?  For example: Can you address all of the elements of Planning and Scheduling effectiveness with just one question in your study? Not likely. You will need more details and data in order to identify actionable gaps for closure.

Frequency – Are you doing it often enough? If you are only assessing or benchmarking once every ten years that would show little trend data. I would recommend a robust external assessment every three to four years for maximum effect. External does not have to be a consultant driven process you just need fresh eyes from another site or division.

Process Standard – Do you have a process and standards for the benchmark assessment so that the data is of like kind and comparable with other locations?

Personnel Standard – Do your assessors have the knowledge and competency to assess? Are they task qualified in the process standard. Are they standardized? Will the non-task qualified assessors affect the comparability of the data where they are involved? I have seen this over and over. Having a standard for performance and qualifying individuals is crucial to effective benchmarking.

Performance – Is the assessment having the desired effect? Is the assessment providing a view into the gaps that you need to address? Is the study executed at a level that identifies next steps to close the gaps. Is it driving the organization to close those gap? Is the organization better as a whole because they did the study?

Efficiency – Are you doing the study efficiently? Is it a major disruption to the business or can it be accomplished with minimal interruptions. Is your assessment or benchmark study addressing the elements required without being exhaustive? Is it full of manual calculations or does it standardized on base data that is used to generate the various calculations "automagicly"?

Innovation – Are you finding a better way to do it? Have you improved the assessment and benchmarking process each time you have executed it? This could be through data standardization or tool improvements or collected history.

This become the checklist that I review to ensure the highest level of success with benchmarking and assessments. Every time I use this list I am upping the return on effort of the study.