How does your company measure up to the competition? Are you performing above the industry standards or below? Are you achieving the objectives necessary to continue to grow and operate successfully? In order to answer these questions, management must have a way to track performance. Evaluating the progress of individuals, projects, and specific departments is important, but management also needs an in depth look at the company as a whole.
The two most popular methods for measuring performance are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Benchmarks. Both KPIs and Benchmarking are used to motivate employees by giving them measurable targets to meet. By meeting these targets, the employees help to increase the overall performance of the company. So, if they are both used to measure performance, what’s the distinction?
Key Performance Indicators
Key Performance Indicators are measures of how well a company, individual, business unit, or project is performing compared to specific strategic objectives or goals set by the company. KPIs that are well constructed provide direction leading to a clear understanding and awareness of current performance. KPIs often differ from company to company or department to department within a company based on the goals of the specific company or particular department.
A company’s desire to measure the indicators often dictates the KPIs put into practice. When developing a KPI, how that KPI relates to a specific business objective needs to be considered. Here are a few examples of KPIs that you may use for your business:
- Staff Retention
- New Customer Acquisition
- Timeliness of Projects
- Financial Growth
Planning is key when dealing with KPIs for measurement. It is important that they are significant, understandable and current. Using customized KPIs will provide great insight into your business.
Benchmarking compares other organizations in your industry to your own organization. Benchmarks are often measured by studying the results of other company operations that have best practices put in place to achieve exceptional results. The goal of benchmarking is to improve your processes to strengthen company performance, enhance customer satisfaction and increase revenue.
Performance benchmarking and strategic benchmarking are commonly used by firms. Performance benchmarking generally compares products and services with target companies in your industry allowing your firm to measure your economic position. Whereas strategic benchmarking involves observing and evaluating how other companies compete (which may include those outside of industry).
There is a significant amount of benchmarking data already gathered and available for companies to allow them to measure themselves against industry peers. The Deltek AE Clarity report, for example, is done annually. Sometimes there is a fee associated with acquiring benchmarking data, but it is easily recouped by the savings of resources and time in not having to do your own research.
Benefit from Key Performance Indicators and Benchmarks
Both of these methods allow management to identify areas where the company excels as well as areas that need improvement. However, to benefit from using KPIs and Benchmarks, a company needs to be willing to set objectives, make changes and follow through. Keep in mind, it is vital for company growth and success that those objectives are set both based upon internal history as well as industry standard criterion.