Having undertaken a benchmarking process by some combination of metric, diagnostic and process approaches, the next stage is to evaluate the results in the context of the original strategic objectives of the benchmarking exercise. A useful first stage of this can be to undertake a ‘sense-check’ of the results – are the results plausible and credible?
Some expert assessment at this stage is useful in ensuring that the benchmarking results represent a well-founded and reliable basis for decision making. Appropriate, insightful interpretation of the results is helpful in identifying which benchmarking outcomes offer the most promising improvement opportunities.
Presenting benchmarking data
The results of the benchmarking processes will typically be presented to managers and decision-makers at this point in the process. Effective presentation of benchmarking data (or indeed other forms of business intelligence) is very important in ensuring that the results of benchmarking are accessible, applied and understood.
Such presentation must reflect:
- The audience, their expectations and level of technical knowledge
- The objectives for the presentation (for example: for information or to prompt action)
- Any caveats that must be considered in interpreting the data
The following two illustrations were offered and the case study of the University of Warwick in step five provides relevant examples.
Principles of effective presentation
Effective visual presentation
Effective presentation of benchmarking results to decision makers will often lead to searching discussions.
If we are doing badly compared to others – why?
If we are doing well, what are the underlying factors?
Decisions must be taken on areas of performance in which improvement is required and the setting of targets to direct improvement.
The results of benchmarking which highlight performance gaps and generate insight into causes will provide context for realistic target setting in terms of extent and timeframes for change. Of course this must be balanced against the costs and capability of an institution to implement change.
The University of Sheffield case study contains further information about this stage of the process.
- Use measurements and benchmarks to evaluate performance
- Determine gaps and/or establish process differences
- Set targets and monitor