Today we will learn from the “Gabler Lexicon Entrepreneurship”, which was written by Professor Dr. Tobias Kollmann, everything you need to know about benchmarking.
Professor Kollmann holds the chair for business administration and information systems, especially e-business and e-entrepreneurship, at the University of Duisburg-Essen.
Bench marketing is a procedure in which company and / or business unit-related processes and / or service offers are compared with the best-identified references inside and outside the company.
Bench marketing is carried out in a systematic and continuous manner and can relate to different objects such as potentials, products, processes and methods.
- Success research as a systematic search for top performance in corporate practice is to be seen as a generic term for bench marketing and success factor research (EFF) (Munster approach to success research). While selected excellent companies are generally considered in benchmarking, the EFF also deals with less successful companies on the basis of larger samples.
- In addition to the competition analysis, benchmarking can take into account internal (internal benchmarking) as well as references from outside the industry.
- Bench marketing goes beyond the company comparison, in which bench marketing is less geared towards industry averages and more towards top companies, takes qualitative rather than quantitative values into account and also does not stick to the comparison but also includes implementation.
The primary objective of benchmarking is to identify and implement opportunities for improvement in the company. Bench marketing also has a legitimisation and motivation function, as the high performance of the best practice companies can serve as an incentive for their own implementation.
Bench marketing is usually used to approach top companies. Through a cross-industry application, bench marketing can also be used to create competitive advantages.
- The bench marketing process
Depending on the bench marketing object or question, the bench marketing process can be presented differently. Four generic phases of successful bench-marking projects were identified: planning, data collection, analysis and implementation.
- Planning:The planning includes the strengths and weaknesses analysis of the bench marketing object, the selection and creation of a criteria catalogue for the bench marketing object, and the selection of reference units. These should be identified as partners with the “best” qualities on a rational basis.
- First, there is an internal analysis of the benchmarking object. Secondary research is then carried out on the basis of public information sources such as libraries, databases, chambers of crafts and commerce. This information can already provide suggestions for improvement.
Analysis of Bench Marketing
The analysis of the benchmarking partners follows.
(1) The availability of data is not a problem with internal benchmarking.
(2) With competitive benchmarking, access to data is more difficult if the benchmarking partners are competitors. Then you have to limit yourself to secondary data and the statements of mutual customers.
(3) Bench marketing clubs open up the possibility of exchanging bench marketing-relevant information on the basis of reciprocity, whereby the willingness to cooperate determines the data access.
- c) A comparison with the reference unit results in suggestions for improvement that are planned in this process step.
- d) When implementing the aspects identified as success factors, it should be noted that they are innovations for the company. Accordingly, barriers to innovation are to be expected. Ultimately, success checks and adjustments to the measures must be carried out.
- Prerequisites and problems:
- a) The success of a bench marketing project depends on the comparability of the data and the company’s willingness to implement it.
- b) The search for comparable reference companies is particularly problematic for innovative companies. Further problems arise, for example, from misinterpretations of the bench marketing concept: bench marketing does not necessarily lead to imitation, but bench marketing can also be an instrument for creating real innovations, for example through the formation of analogies.
- c) If a company succeeds in implementing best practices, so can competitors too. Therefore, the durability of a competitive advantage achieved through benchmarking is fragile.
- Current developments:
The application of bench marketing usually takes place in the context of a catch-up process. The possibility of gaining a lasting competitive advantage by orienting yourself towards others is questionable. From the perspective of the resource-oriented approach, the latter is only possible through original combinations of factors.