4 items tagged "benchmarking"

  • Benchmark Against Your Biggest Competitor — Yourself!

    As firms face growing competition for customers, they naturally seek to compare themselves with their peers and competitors, but there is a trap: Leaders don’t compare themselves.

    In the past, it was common to benchmark organizational performance against “industry averages,” and being “above average” was considered good. Today, “above average” is no longer good enough; fickle customers demand exceptional experiences. Delivering those experiences requires exceptional performance; anything less means that another company may steal your customers.

    When we talk with leading modern application delivery organizations, we find that new benchmarking trends are emerging, making traditional benchmarking less attractive. Why?

    • Benchmarking is for followers, not leaders. Organizations want to be “unicorns,” like the Etsys, Netflixes, Googles, and Salesforces of the world. They don’t want to be losing “horses.”
    • Most benchmarking approaches target the IT of the past, not BT. Benchmark methodologies and data were created and heavily used when software delivery capability was considered a cost, not a differentiator. In business technology, software is a key differentiator, and BT leaders want to be the best and continuously improve.
    • Agile, continuous delivery is less about standards and more about creativity and adaptation. Agile and CD have no set standards; 65% of expert firms using Agile mix and match various practices from various frameworks like Scrum, Kanban, SAFe, and XP. One size does not fit all in terms of metrics; with no standard process, organizationstructure, or technology, it’s even harder to compare data between companies.

    So what do leading organizations do instead of benchmarking themselves against external organizations? They:

    • Compare where their company is to where their customers need them to be. Customer needs and satisfaction drive the comparison.
    • Analyze and use data in new ways. New metrics for AD&D, such as post-production metrics, are used in conjunction with more traditional preproduction metrics to drive the analysis. Talent metrics are used to decide how to assemble teams in the most efficient way.
    • Prioritize and improve performance. By analyzing value streams, teams uncover their most pressing improvement needs — not whether they are better or worse than external competitors. This drives much better alignment.

    with competitors anymore. Instead, they compare their current performance with where they need to be as a leader, and that’s what the business expects.

    Source: Forrester

  • Discover the Advantages of Benchmarking

    Discover the Advantages of Benchmarking

    In every industry, there are certain standards that employees and consumer come to expect from any company worth their salt. How do you know if your business is meeting those standards? The answer is benchmarking.

    While every business is unique and no two comxpanies will follow the exact same path to success, benchmarking gives you a solid starting point for measuring your operations. By analyzing your competitors and comparing your processes and offerings to theirs, you’ll be better able to keep up with industry trends and meet the demands of the modern market.

    “It’s highly important for leaders … to know what the industry is offering, what’s changing and the new systems and technologies they need to adopt to stay on top of the game,” said Sahin Boydas, founder and CEO of RemoteTeam.com. “Leaders who operate without monitoring benchmarks end up being left behind — there’s always a price to pay for ignoring what’s happening in your business environment.”

    Here’s what you need to know about the process and benefits of benchmarking in your business operations.

    What is benchmarking?

    Benchmarking in business means measuring your company’s quality, performance and growth by analyzing the processes and procedures of others. If you believe there’s something that can be improved within your organization, you can see how your business stacks up against the “standard” and plan out a path for betterment, whether that means cutting costs, boosting efficiency and productivity, or growing revenue. The ultimate goal of benchmarking is continuous improvement, something all businesses should aim for. Comparing your business to others can help you generate ideas that you can adopt to get ahead.

    Key takeaway: Benchmarking helps your business establish an internal or external standard to measure itself against for the purposes of continual improvement.

    Types of business benchmarking

    A business can use benchmarking to measure numerous areas of their operations against internal and external standards. There are three primary types of benchmarking:

    1. Internal benchmarking

    Internal benchmarking is all about improving your business by comparing it to historical data. Whether you’re comparing organizational departments or different branch locations, you can use internal benchmarking to uncover the best, most efficient practices and share them across the company.

    According to Boydas, internal benchmarking can help eliminate waste of both time and money in a business. Internal benchmarks that businesses should focus on may include things like employee performance and effectiveness, as well as how employees make use of the tools provided by the business.

    “Monitoring internal benchmarks is one of the most effective ways to build resilient teams,” said Boydas. “Benchmarking data helps businesses identify the most effective ways to make use of employee talent, how to organize tasks to make it easy for both employees and management, and what part of the organizational processes should be discarded.”

    2. Competitive benchmarking

    As the name suggests, competitive benchmarking is about setting certain goals based on what your competitors are doing. By studying the practices and standards of similar businesses to match or, ideally, exceed the industry status quo, your business can gain a competitive edge.

    Competitor benchmarks can impact everything from employee salaries, services provided to customers and even employee morale, said Maida Zheng, senior advisor at The Logos Consulting Group.

    “If you want to stay ahead of the competition and create the most desirable work environment for your employees, understanding what your competitors are doing is not only common sense, but imperative,” Zheng told Business.com. “Employees will know they should stay with a company if they have an opportunity for growth — monetary and skill — and they know their employer is keeping up or staying ahead of competition.”

    3. Strategic benchmarking

    One step beyond competitive benchmarking is strategic benchmarking, in which a business seeks to emulate specific performance standards of world-class organizations. This may involve cross-industry inspiration, like when Southwest Airlines modeled its maintenance, cleaning and boarding processes after the time-bound, defined tasks of a well-oiled NASCAR pit crew.

    Key takeaway: Business benchmarking can be used to measure progress and growth in many key operational areas. The most common types are internal, competitive and strategic benchmarking.

    Benefits of benchmarking in business

    Benchmarking is not a one-and-done exercise; to truly benefit from this practice, a company must engage in consistent, ongoing measurement of their key activities to ensure they’re moving toward their goals.

    Businesses that make benchmarking a regular practice can:

    • Keep improving internal operations. Benchmarking your processes and procedures, especially against internal standards, can help your team become more efficient and productive year over year.
    • Understand what’s working and what isn’t. A deep, thorough analysis of your business’s past performance will allow you to identify trends and patterns that you may not have noticed as they were happening. Looking at this data will give you a clear picture of what behaviors and practices improve overall business results and which ones don’t.
    • Adopt or improve upon competitors’ practices. When you study your competition, you begin to understand what they’re doing that makes them successful, as well as areas where they falter. By adapting competitors’ best practices to your organization’s needs and deviating from the things customers or clients don’t like, you can optimize your position in the market and better appeal to your target audience.
    • Reduce costs by increasing efficiency. Benchmarking is most often used to improve performance through efficiency. Cutting out waste in your processes, be it monetary costs or time and effort spent, will help you streamline your operations and ultimately help you retain more of your revenue.
    • Focus on practices and offerings that promote customer satisfaction and loyalty. Gathering feedback and data from customers (either your own or your competitors) will give you greater insight into what they like and don’t like, and what you can do to keep earning their business in the future.

    Key takeaway: Benchmarking can help you improve multiple areas of your business operations, simply by measuring progress and giving you a clear goal to strive for.

    What is a typical benchmarking process?

    In its simplest form, benchmarking involves determining where you are, where you want to be and how you plan to get there. Here is a brief overview of the stages of the benchmarking process most businesses follow:

    1. Plan out what you want to benchmark.

    Benchmarking begins with identifying what you want to measure. Whether it’s salary, sales, team development or another area of growth, you’ll want to define the activities you’re benchmarking and the key metrics you’ll use to track progress.

    2. Conduct research to collect relevant data.

    Once you know what you want to measure, you can begin speaking with employees, competitors, customers and other business stakeholders who may be involved or impacted. Initiating one-on-one or group conversations or collecting survey responses from these parties can provide valuable feedback to inform your benchmarking process.

    You should also conduct research on where other companies or departments currently stand. For instance, if you’re benchmarking salaries, you’ll want to look at sites like Glassdoor and Payscale to see what other companies pay for the same roles and titles in your organization. Understanding the industry or departmental average can help you better set your own benchmark for measuring your company’s performance.

    3. Analyze the data to assess where you are and where you want to be.

    Using your research and gathered data, you can figure out where your current performance sits compared to other companies or departments and determine an appropriate and realistic goal for improvement. Laying out your data in an easy-to-digest format (e.g. graphs or charts) can give you a holistic picture of any gaps in your performance and how far you’ll need to go to meet your desired benchmark.

    4. Develop an action plan.

    This is the implementation phase of the benchmarking process in which you’ll develop actionable steps you and your stakeholders can take to reach your goals. Defining success and an action plan upfront gives you a clear path to hitting your benchmarks.

    A good place to begin is by leveraging common goal-setting approaches like SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time-Bound) and HEART (Habit-Forming, Emotional, Actionable, Realistic, Time-Bound). By using either of these approaches, you can break down your big-picture benchmarking goals (“increase sales”) into smaller steps with concrete deadlines (“reach out to five new prospects per week over the next quarter”).

    5. Monitor your progress.

    At regular intervals, check the progress your team is making against the defined goals in your action plan. This may be weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually, but it’s important to track your metrics consistently. If you’re meeting your benchmarks, it means your plan has been successful and you should continue. If you’re not, you may need to revisit your plan and course correct.

    While these steps can be adapted to many different business operations, your company may want to develop its own unique benchmarking process based on the specific goals you want to reach. Depending on your current state and where you want to go, some steps may be more involved or require external partners to help.

    Key takeaway: To begin benchmarking, identify the metrics you want to track, asses where you currently stand and define what success looks like. Then, create an action plan and regularly track your progress.

    Example of benchmarking

    Not sure where to begin with your benchmarking process? Here is a hypothetical example of how it can work for your organization:

    A company uses the same ticketing system for its customer service department and its IT department. When the chief operating officer looks at the dashboard statistics, she notices that the IT team closes 80% of its tickets within three days, which is significantly faster than the customer service team.

    She initiates a benchmarking process for closed tickets and studies what the IT team is doing to achieve its results. The COO learns that whenever a ticket comes in for IT, the department head assigns the ticket to the team member with the most expertise in that area, while customer service tickets are assigned to whichever employee is currently available.

    The customer service team adopts the IT team’s practice of ticket assignment by expertise and sets a goal of cutting their average ticket close time in half by the end of the following month. After a few weeks of following this practice, the customer service reps were working through more issues each week and successfully hit the IT team’s close time benchmark.

    Key takeaway: The benchmarking process allows a team or company to determine what specific practices are helping other departments or competitors achieve certain results. The team or company can then adopt those practices to achieve similar improved results.

    How to make benchmarking work for your business

    If your business is looking to begin the benchmarking process, the most important thing you can do is get your employees involved in the process. Change is a difficult but necessary part of reaching your benchmarking goals, and it’s important that everyone on your team is on board with what they need to do, when they need to do it and how.

    Giving everyone a seat at the table and letting their voices be heard will help you encourage and foster creativity, Zheng said. Great ideas can come from anywhere in the organization, and you may find that a lower-level employee comes up with the best plan for improving a particular process.

    “Don’t get stuck in a rut thinking that only the senior managers can offer innovative ideas,” said Zheng. “Create a mechanism where any employee can make the company better and accordingly reward them for bringing ideas to life.”

    Key takeaway: Get your employees of all levels involved in the benchmarking process. This will not only generate the greatest number of diverse, viable ideas, but also encourage buy-in from your team. 

    Author: Nicole Fallon

    Source: Business News Daily

  • How to Benchmark Your Marketing Performance Against Your Competition's

    160225-Man-Painting-Coloured-Arrows-115378220In today's digital marketing world, competitive intelligence often takes a back seat to all the key performance indicators (KPIs) on which marketers are focused—open rates, social engagement metrics, lead-to-sales opportunity conversion rates, etc.

    That inward focus on how well you are doing with your revenue-driving marketing tactics is critical. But it can lead you to celebrate the wrong things. Don't let your KPIs overshadow the importance of knowing exactly how your digital marketing strategies are performing in relation to your peers who are competing against you in the market.

    If you forget to look at the bigger picture, you'll miss a perspective that, well, separates the best marketers from the mediocre ones.

    You can easily keep tabs on how your campaigns measure up against others in your industry without hiring an expensive third-party research firm. Of course, there may be times when you do need customer research and use a fancy detailed matrix of your competitors for in-depth analysis for identifying new products or for market sizing.

    But I'm talking about a quick and easy dashboard that measures you, the marketer, against your competitors.

    Why Spy?

    Competitive intelligence helps you...

    • Increase your chances of winning in the marketplace
    • Shape the development of your digital marketing strategy
    • Create a strategy for new product launches
    • Uncover threats and opportunities
    • Establish benchmarking for your analytics
      Most businesses do not have the luxury of having a dedicated employee, let alone a dedicated team, to gather and analyze gobs of data. However, you can easily track basic KPIs to inform decision-making at your company.

    Having analyzed the digital marketing strategies of numerous companies of various size and in various industries, including e-commerce, SaaS, and travel companies—and their competitors—I suggest the following for benchmarking.

    Website Performance Metrics

    To track the performance of a website, gather data from sites such as SEMRush, Pingdom, Similarweb, and Alexa. While that data is not always accurate when you compare three or four competitors at once, you can spot trends.

    Important metrics to monitor include the following:

    • Website visits: The average number of visitors per month can easily size up how popular you and your competitors are.
    • Bounce rate and site speed: Correlate these two metrics. That's how you can determine whether you need to make changes to your own website. For example, if your website has a high page-load time compared with your competitors, that will impact your page rankings, bounce rate, and overall customer satisfaction.
    • Geographic sources of traffic: Look at what percentage of visitors comes from what regions. That's critical if your company plans to expand beyond its current geographical presence. It will also allow you to spot global opportunities by finding gaps in distribution when looking at all competitors.
    • Website traffic by channel: See where your competitors choose to spend their time and money. For example, a company that has a higher percentage of visitors from email probably has a large prospect database. If you look at their website, you can examine how they collect data for their email marketing programs. Are they getting website visitors to sign up for newsletters or special offers? If not, they may be purchasing prospect data from a data provider. You can adjust your own strategy to ramp up marketing campaigns in areas where your competitors are not actively engaging prospects, or to increase spending in areas where they are outperforming you.

    Benchmarking reports from industry research reports are also helpful for tracking average open, click-through, and conversion rates.

    By putting together your newly found competitor insight and your own metrics, including your past performance, you can establish your own benchmarking.

    Mining for More Data

    Where are your competitors spending their advertising budgets? How are they using social media and PR? What jobs are they posting? Those answers are not hard to find, and they provide powerful insights.

    • SEO/PPC research: Tools are available to help you determine what ads your competitors are running and how they rank for particular keywords. Check out SEMRush, SpyFu, and WhatRunsWhere. You can also look at their overall spending for PPC campaigns. Depending on the source, however, the accuracy of this data can be as low as 50%. So use it for gauging overall direction, but don't rely on it entirely.
    • Social media: This is probably the hottest area of marketing and the hardest to assess. Mining data on social channels is especially tough when tracking consumer brands. It's best to monitor your competitors' activities monthly, and make sure to look at the posts ad promotions that companies generate. When updating or changing your strategy, you should have a solid understanding of what social media channels your competitors are using, types of posts they are making, how frequently they are using social media, and how successful they are (including number of users and levels of engagement).
    • PR: Press releases, financial reports, and thought-leadership blog posts distributed by your competitors provide great insight into their partnerships, possible marketing spending, and other initiatives.
    • Job postings: From time to time, take a look at LinkedIn or other job sites and you can get a good idea of where and how the company plans to expand.

    Frequency of Competitive Analysis

    The answer depends on the type of business that you have and the competitive landscape.

    For example, if you are selling a product in the SaaS Cloud space where you have 10 competitors, most of which are leading innovators, it makes sense to track their every move. However, if you are a B2B company and you have only one or two competitors in the manufacturing sector, you probably can get away with doing some basic benchmarking once every quarter.

    It is advisable to do a competitive analysis prior to changing strategy, launching a new product, or making tactical plans for the next quarter or year.

    Don't Be Afraid: Know Where You Stand

    Here's the bottom line: Don't get too excited about your 5% jump in email open rates, or passing a "likes" milestone on Facebook. Have the courage to see whether you are really a marketing rock star by benchmarking yourself against your competitors. Your business needs to know what your competition is doing. And I don't mean just knowing your competitors' products and pricing.

    With the insights you'll get from these tips and tools, you will be able to create a solid strategy, spot-on tactical plans, and (at the very least) a fantastic presentation to your executives or board.

    Source: MarketingProfs

  • Why competitive benchmarking is key to successful competitive intelligence

    Why competitive benchmarking is key to successful competitive intelligence

    Most businesses know their own strategy through and through, and recently, more companies than ever before are investing in competitive intelligence. The real secret to success is combining those two knowledge sources – monitoring your own strategy alongside that of your competitors. This brings us to a concept called competitive benchmarking, which is critical to competitive analysis success. Keep reading to learn how to benchmark your company against your competition for a successful competitive analysis. 

    What is competitive benchmarking? 

    Let’s start with the basics. Chances are, you have transparency across your organization, so you have insight into what product is working on, which campaigns marketing is launching, and how your revenue is performing. As you conduct a competitive analysis, you’re gathering similar information on your competition. You’re gathering product information, revenue information, marketing campaign information, and more about your competitors.

    Now, you need to know how you compare to your competitors. Where do you stand within the market? This is called competitive benchmarking – comparing your company performance against your competition to measure how you stack up. You can then identify gaps, similarities, and adjust your strategy accordingly. Let’s dive into how you can gather your competitive intelligence data and benchmark your own company alongside your competition. 

    Monitor your competitive landscape 

    It’s great to know every move your competitors make, if possible, even before they make a move. But we’re not psychics, right? So how are we going to know what our competitors are going to do before they make a move? You need to pick up on smaller signals, or breadcrumbs, to gain insight into what their next major move may be. 

    In order to best analyze your competitive landscape, you should look for relative changes in investment. It’s common practice that companies will ramp up certain strategies such as content, social media, or campaigns when they have a big announcement coming up. Are they posting a lot of content around a specific product feature? Are they targeting a certain persona more than another? Which positions are they recruiting for? Discovering the answers to these questions, and similar questions are great tactics for gaining competitive insight. These small competitive insights can give you insight into your competitor’s overall strategy. Based on where your competitors are investing, you can make predictions as to where they’re heading next. 

    In addition to monitoring what your competitors are doing, it’s important to monitor what your competitors’ customers are saying about the solutions they use. There’s a lot we can learn from our competitors’ customers, including what they like and dislike about the product they’re using.

    Take note of the positives and negatives highlighted in the customer feedback. This information can be compared to what your customers are saying about your own company. Where are you struggling where your competitors are excelling? You can use the positive feedback from your competitors’ customers to learn, and you can use the negative reviews to better align yourself with the needs of your market. This information is valuable for all teams within your company. Not only is it beneficial to product managers, because they can develop your product accordingly, but it’s beneficial for account executives and marketers alike. 

    Leveraging third-party reviews is a great way to gain insight into your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. This piece of your analysis can help you measure where you need to improve and where you lead the charge within your industry. 

    Break into untapped opportunities 

    Now that you’ve monitored your competitive landscape and gathered competitive insights, you need to insert your own company into the analysis. Measure your company performance in the same way you measure your competition. That way, you can see where you crush the competition, and identify where there is room for you to break into untapped opportunities. If your competitor is excelling in a specific area, it may be harder to knock them out of their top spot right away. However, filling the gaps in the market will help you gain the competitive edge you’re looking for. 

    The great part about tracking yourself alongside your competitors is that you can identify where gaps are in the market. If you can find the gaps within your market, you can break into that space and serve an unmet need. This also gives you the opportunity to lead the charge in new areas within your market. This is a great way to grab the leads and opportunities that your competitors are missing out on. You’re now offering your target audience something of value that they’re unable to get from your competitors, giving you a unique competitive advantage. 

    Make sure your competitive analysis is actionable 

    Conducting competitive intelligence research is time-consuming, especially when you’re also putting together a formal competitive analysis. To get the most out of your efforts, you want to ensure that you’re turning insights into action. 

    The important thing to remember about competitive intelligence is that it’s not only about what your competitors are doing; it’s about how you compare to your competitors, and how you can turn your insights into action to best serve your market. The key to a successful competitive analysis is benchmarking yourself alongside your competitors, and identifying the gaps in your market to showcase your solution and position yourself as a market leader. 

    Author: Emily Dumas

    Source: Crayon

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