Who is Responsible for your Benchmarks?

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/03/13 1 views

in a analytics smarter & actionable KPIs,b why benchmark successes

    Everybody gives lip serve to how important benchmarking exercises are.
    How can it then be that we leave the benchmarking of webpages, e-commerce sites, blogs and social media campaigns to the geeks, webmasters and techies in the firm?
    We address this in more detail and outline why c-level executives should worry or better take charge!

Who is responsible for sales?

Some people will tell you that every single employee is part of the sales team. ‘Whenever you do anything, keep our customer in mind’ might be the response. So how can we explain that the benchmarking exercise for online media activities including those regarding our webpages, blogging by the CEO or customer services are usually the responsibility of:

– technical staff, and

– webmasters?

What happened to the rest of the in-house experts such as marketing or engineering folks? We are talking about communicating with clients. Naturally, this depends heavily upon the quality of the content we produce. The way we deliver content to the target audience is also important to consider.

Usually, neither technical staff nor the webmaster decide what content we offer online such as video files or white papers. So why are they left in charge of measuring, comparing and benchmarking efforts when we are trying to assess the return on blogging or online activities?

Who sets the benchmarks and evaluates the ratios?

It seems obvious that management has to be at least involved in setting the benchmarks. Nevertheless, before setting them the following answer needs addressing:

What is it we want to accomplish?

Once you have answered the above question, you can begin to chart out the road to success. Most important is in keeping track of progress and performance toward the targets that have been set.

Even if there are only two of you, make sure someone owns the job. Without regular tracking of progress made toward your performance targets and benchmarks, measurement is not possible.

Comparing the Sony Ericsson K850i with the Apple iPhone (get a bigger version of screen shot above) is a strategic decision that will affect subsequent improvements to be made by either company. Therefore, the main question is:

are these phones comparable?

K850i offers better photos with a 5-mega pixel camera. However, can you store the photo without getting an error message? Some users have experienced surprising and upsetting results trying to store their snapshots. As well, iPhone offers WiFi, larger screen and better functionality / usability…

Depending on what you benchmark and how, our first comment would be that from Apple’s perspective it pays handsomely to have hardware and software design/engineering/programming in-house, because things work properly in contrast to some Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones. What you pay for is what you get…

If you don’t know where you are,

you don’t know where you are going

Who should know about the benchmarking results?

Besides deciding what to compare – apples with oranges makes no sense – which ratios and indicators to use is a strategic decision.

Comparing the size of a phone, weight and technical features may be interesting. However, for clients what matters is how easily, reliably and accurately these features work. Hence, comparing a list of features or presenting us with a set of pictures comparing these 2 phones’ sizes and weights may be fun but of limited practical value. Neither does such information help that much the firms’ respective R&D and marketing/sales teams.

What benchmarks or ratios you use will be critical in guiding you to investigate and answer questions such as – what should we improve. So be careful in what indicators you choose. Deciding to use the wrong benchmark indicators may result in wasted time and effort, a costly exercise.

Benchmarking is done best in such a way that it helps the organization in moving from asking the question what is wrong to a more result focused – how can we improve. Hence, raising awareness about a benchmarking program requires that its focus is communicated to the staff.

As a continuous activity in the company, benchmarking identifies the result of efforts made as an iterative process. The result is continuous improvement. To achieve continuous improvement it is, however, necessary to communicate the changes and improvements to staff. It might be smart to inform customers and investors as well.

If this post was helpful to you, please consider stumbling it or Digg this ComMetrics post from CyTRAP Labs
Also of interest from around the Web:
Getting your Corporate Blog Noticed – Pretending not to care Why Benchmark
How to Benchmark your Sponsoring Efforts in Sports and the Arts c – top corporate blogs – how to arrive at such list – asking for feedback from bloggers

Remember, benchmarking is a very effective tool for initiating and maintaining continuous improvements – waiting until tomorrow is wasting the limited time you have to do it right.Besides, the issues we addressed above regarding the iPhone vs a Sony Ericsson model can be applied to any benchmarking exercise. An example would be comparing the webpages from 2 competitors or their CEOs’ blogs, and so on.Key is – what websites you choose to benchmark yourself against with what kind of indicators – too important a judgment to make for passing this job to somebody else.

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