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Six Sigma: Phases Of Benchmarking

Jul 24, 2008
The focus should be on your company, compared with the standards or achievements of other similar companies. They are external references on which to base your evaluations of your own achievements.

Benchmarking can be called comparing your own performances to those of the best practices in top-level companies. It involves an evaluation of how those companies have achieved results - and on the basis of this information, setting the targets for your own company.

Benchmarking is not limited to mere goal setting. It involves concentrating on the superior performance. Benchmarking projects are like any other project - it is essential to have a systematic and structured approach to the process.

At the same time, the process should be flexible to any innovative ways to obtain new information. Typically, there are four phases of the benchmarking process; planning, analysis, integration and action.

Phases of Benchmarking:

Planning Phase

Being the first phase, this phase has to be completely error free. Any mistakes in this phase will mean further phases would be affected, and efficiency and effectiveness may not be up to the mark.

This phase involves the identification of the benchmark itself. It means that top management has to decide which processes are relevant - from the point of view of customer requirements.

The critical to quality (CTQs) requirements have to be studied properly to prioritize the relevant processes. These have to be benchmarked to an organization. A proper study of which one suits your goals the most should be selected.

Analysis Phase

This phase involves analyzing the information collected in the planning phase. An analysis of the reasons for the better outcomes of the benchmarked processes has to be done based on the data collected. Based on this analysis, a better process has to be developed.

The next step is to set goals for developing an improved process for your organization. This goal for the process should be to make as good a process - or an even better one - than the other organization.

Integration Phase

This phase takes the planning and analysis done in the earlier steps to further levels only after being accepted by senior management and department heads. Proper communication of the findings in the earlier stages has to be conducted and their commitment established.

When the revisions are accepted, the acceptance of the goals is the next important step.

Action Phase

The last phase is the most important phase. It involves developing a plan for implementation with all the factors involved such as the time line, responsible owners and targets being planned properly.

It is necessary that senior management also be responsible for the coordination of various activities, monitoring the progress of the plans and removing any barriers in the implementation process. When the revised process is in place, a report stating the benefits of the new revised process has to be developed.

The project completion should be the milestone- the benchmark - for any further projects. The process has to be a continuous one so that the initiative does not fail due to neglect.

Benchmarking is definitely advantageous, as it involves learning from others to make suitable changes to suit your company's requirements and goals.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for six sigma professionals including, lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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