Sign & Digital Graphics

October '14

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Benchmarking: Benefit or Bane? Adopting best practices of other companies may yield a lucrative return for the effort B y V i n c e D i c e c c o Make it Your Business While benchmarking does take time and a bit of ingenuity, it can provide valuable information that one can use to improve any business, almost immediately. The different types of benchmarking—functional, industry, financial, tactical and strategic—could be used together for a more accurate picture of where your company is in relation to your competition, the industry, the marketplace and your own hopes and dreams for the enterprise. Is your business a prime candidate for benchmarking? Well, let's find out. Approach the bench(mark) Back in the nineteenth century, a benchmark was a surveyor's term that meant a mark cut into a stone or a wall that established the exact level of altitude for a tract of land being measured. Benchmarking grew in popularity during the 1970s when it became a common component of Total Quality Management ( TQM) programs taken up by large companies. The Japanese were given credit for advancing the concept of benchmarking through their practice of sending managers to visit other companies in order to improve their understanding of good business practices. In 1979, the Xerox Manufacturing Operations began a process of competitive benchmarking in order to combat increasing competition and laid the ground- work for the steps many of today's businesses take to implement benchmarking—regardless of their size. Today, benchmarking is a commonplace term— defined as "a standard or point of reference in measuring or judging the current value or success of your company in order to determine future business plans"—although the practice is often executed incorrectly. Too frequently, benchmarking efforts end with competitive compari- son studies—which only assess the gap between what you and other companies are doing. The other—and, arguably, the most meaningful—half of benchmarking is discovering, understanding and adapting how the comparison companies are achieving better results. Therefore, acceptable definitions of the term "benchmarking" should focus on the qualitative pro- cess aspect and not only the quantitative end results. For benchmarking to be successful, both of these ele- ments are essential. It is impossible to understand why a performance gap exists purely from the num- T oday's digital graphics and sign business owners are confronted with new, potentially rewarding opportunities every day. Growing a successful com- pany in these challenging economic times calls for developing the ability to look outside the business for solutions, ideas and best practices. However, capturing and borrowing ideas and best practices can be time consuming, somewhat frustrating, and can lead one down a dead end road, if not done methodically. Vince DiCecco is a business training and development consultant and owner of the Acworth, Ga.-based business, Your Personal Business Trainer, Inc. He has been sculpting his sales, marketing and training techniques since 1979, and he has shared innovative and practical ideas on business management excellence for two Fortune 200 companies, the US Coast Guard, and in seminars at past NBM Shows. He is available to small- to mid-sized companies striving for sustained growth and market dominance. Contact him via email at or visit his company website, RUNNING THE BUSINESS 108 • October 2014 • S i G n & D i G i T A L G R A P H i c S Planning Analysis Integration Action Maturity Five Steps to Benchmarking:

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