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Why not benchmarking? Part 1: Understanding its Value

You may have all the data for your organization or community, but sooner or later you’ll have to look outward to measure how you’re performing. When that time comes, why not try benchmarking?

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True, collecting data on yourself and others isn’t always fun, and the comparison stage may yield some disappointing results. Afterward though, some great benefits emerge:

-          Confirm (or shatter) your expectations: On-the-ground work and pride in local organizations is crucial, but are they really the best? I might say Cleveland is better than Cincinnati, but a quick look at Thoughtwell’s Benchmarking Central Ohio shows, at least for population growth and household income, I am quite wrong.

-          See who’s doing it better: If rankings aren’t to your liking this time, don’t fret. Benchmarking also shows who’s at the top, helping draw a goal line for improved metrics.

-          One step to change: Knowing where you and your peers stand lays groundwork for future actions, and continuously benchmarking puts earlier decisions in perspective. When DirecTV sees its customer satisfaction ratings slipping and competitors catching up, what went wrong and what can be done next have a new lens.

-          Fun facts at parties:  Did you know over 46 million items circulate in libraries around Portland? When benchmarking cities to your own, knowledge gained makes for endless exciting conversation starters (or, maybe not…).

If you’re ready to get started, your next questions might be, “what data should we collect?” and “who are my peers?” Let’s answer those next time.