The APQC Blog

Benchmarking Basics: Know the Rules of the Game

Working with benchmarking organizations affords me a view of some of the mistakes organizations regularly make, as well as the things that make them successful. One of the basic mistakes I see organization make is not adhering to some foundational benchmarking principles or rules. This doesn’t happen out of malice; it mainly occurs because organizations focus on the data and information they want to collect and ignore aspects of the benchmarking process. This isn’t a new issue by any means, either. I’ve seen organizations encounter this issue for most of my 18+ years of benchmarking, and it is one of the main reasons we created the APQC Benchmarking Code of Conduct.

The Code of Conduct isn’t a document that was developed to add burdensome formality to the benchmarking process. It is a tool developed to spread broadly among the benchmarking community, and it is one of the most downloaded documents from our Website. A trend we want to continue.

Here are some of my personal favorite principles from the Code of Conduct, and some of the most often overlook facets of the benchmarking process.

The Principle of Exchange

This section covers the basic parameters of being honest and equal in your exchange of information. Don’t ask for information you aren’t willing to share. Be honest when sharing information, and with what your benchmarking intentions as you enter into a benchmarking relationship with another organization. Seems very logical, but is very much overlooked.

The Principle of Preparation

These tenets fall in the “common sense” category, as well, but are overlooked by many organizations to the detriment of their benchmarking effort. Provide benchmarking partners with well thought out questions prior to any onsite for phone-based interview.  When visiting or interacting with benchmarking partners, be respectful of their time and work as efficiently and effectively as possible. Be prepared!

There are many other great principles in the APQC Benchmarking Code of Conduct. Please download it and use it in your benchmarking projects. Share it with your benchmarking partners, but, most importantly, make sure you follow some form of rules as you benchmark. Your projects will be better, as will the information you collect.