Six Sigma and Benchmarking – Know Your Phases

Benchmarking can also be called comparing your performances to those of top-level companies. The evaluation involves comparing how these companies have achieved those levels. On the basis of this information, you can set targets for your own company.

Benchmarking is not just about goal setting; it also involves achieving superior performance.

Benchmarking projects, like other projects, need to be systematic and have a structured approach to benchmarking. There needs to be flexibility to allow innovation to obtain new information.

Typically, there are four phases of the benchmarking process – planning, analysis, integration and action.

Phases Of Benchmarking:

1. Planning Phase

The planning phase, being the first one, has to be error-free. Any mistakes will lead to the next phases being affected, as the effectiveness may not be up to the mark. The identification of the benchmark itself would be done in this phase.

Top management should identify processes that are relevant from the point of view of customer requirements. The critical to quality (CTQs) factors should be studied properly to prioritize processes and benchmarked to some organization.

After proper study, the one that suits your goals most would be required before selection for benchmarking. Superior processes should be identified as well as the key processes, best improvement areas, functions and critical success factors.

During this phase, you should be able to answer various questions as to the effective use of the new process, the costs involved required to bring in change and the potential benefits when changes are implemented to reach benchmark levels.

2. Analysis Phase

As the name suggests, this phase involves analyzing information collected in the planning phase. Analyses based on the collected data involves assessing reasons for the better outcomes of benchmarked processes.

This analysis forms the basis for development of better processes. The goal should be to develop an improved process for your organization. This objective should be make as good a process or develop an even better one than the one being considered a benchmark.

3. Integration Phase

The integration phase involves connecting the planning and analysis steps to the action phase.

Only after senior management accepts the proposal for the improved process from management and the head of department can the initiative move ahead.

The commitment of management has to be established, as well as new functional goals.

4. Action Phase

The action phase is where the actual implementation happens. It involves preparation of plan for implementation involving various factors, such as the time schedule for the implementation, process owners, targets that are necessary for implementation of the project.

Senior management should also be involved, as well as responsible for, coordinating activities, monitoring progress of plans and removing barriers to the implementation process. When the newly designed process is in place, a report that lists out the benefits of that process has to be created.

Benchmarking should be utilized for process improvement taking into account the organization’s performance management system. Continuous process improvement can help bring about a change in the culture of company, so they can then strive to become the best in their field.