For the past 5 years, we’ve been working on polishing our strategic planning methodology in order to obtain the best possible results. During our postmortem meetings, we noticed that benchmarking was more than ever a key phase that demonstrated the added value of projects under review. We therefore started digging deeper into the question to bring even more additional value to this crucial phase.
Some consider innovation as the fruit of good benchmarking. This is generally untrue. Effectively, the benchmark lets us evaluate what others are doing in order to compare and find strategies that we can use for our own purposes. Companies being compared to generally come from other geographical locations, industries or considered competitors. We can equally add web properties that share only one functionality or content that we want to compare.
The fruit of good benchmarking is generally a collection of best practices adapted to your enterprise and objectives. Being innovative mostly means to invent a new strategy or approach that has never been implemented before. Why then does the benchmark help innovate? For two principal reasons:
1. To find innovative ideas: During the benchmark phase, it frequently happens that good ideas in place by other companies help evolve innovative ideas for your company.
2. To have time to innovate: To discover good ideas during a benchmark and to use them allows to stick with best practices in order to have the time and budget necessary to find and implement real innovation.
To obtain the most results from the benchmark phase, it is crucial to be well prepared. Out of the selected profiles for analysis, there are of course your competitors and companies within your industry sector. They are generally a good source of findings, but when you are an industry leader there is a strong possibility that you will not find anything new from them.
In that case you need to turn towards companies that are innovative online and that could have similarities with your business or website objectives. It frequently occurs that the best ideas can be inspired from sites that are outside of your industry. For example, we recently worked on a website in the automobile industry and found a wealth of ideas from travel and dating websites, two industries that are very advanced online.
One of the key elements of a winning benchmark certainly comes from the people that produce it. In many cases, organizations have a tendency to ask a single person to produce this task internally or hire a consultant. While this approach does yield good results, many ideas probably go unmentioned and forgotten.
A benchmark should allow you to find a solution path associated with different specializations. Here are some crucial elements that we analyze during a benchmark:
These elements require in the majority of cases many specialists in order to maximize the repercussions.
Finally, the benchmark is a precious asset to identify strategies/tactics/solutions that will become distinctive advantages. Many internet functionalities have reached a certain maturity and it would be useless improve on them. On the hand, there is a world of possibilities to innovate and roll out strategies and approaches that will really distinguish yourself and will help you emerge as a leader on the internet.
Go ahead and benchmark yourself!