How to Source Data for Benchmarking? Once you know what to benchmark the next step is actually to start the benchmarking process...
The Right way of Delivering Benchmarking Results
Now that you have done all the legwork involved with benchmarking the next step is to identify the most effective way to deliver the results. It may seem to be a mundane thing to ponder over mainly because the results can be delivered via email or you can send them via snail mail. However, how would you know if the results were even well received? How would you know if the participants who received the results were happy? Except for a vocal minority, you wouldn’t hear from anyone else. Though when you start collecting data for the next benchmark most may not even bother to participate because they weren’t happy with the results.
You also need to make other considerations like do you want an individual benchmark survey along with an individual report or would you instead have a general benchmark survey? Do you want to use an automated system? Is an online survey system best suited for businesses in your industry? Perhaps you would instead rely on good old Excel for data collection, sorting and reporting. Also, a paper report could be used if there was a way to gauge acceptance rates.
Adding Value when Delivering the Benchmarks
Associations shouldn’t overlook the prospect of being able to add value when delivering the benchmarks. You can use dedicated software for this specific task. If a sophisticated benchmarking tool was used to run the benchmarks, it could also help you create an effective process. That same tool can also be used to add various added value points like a comment about multiple aspects of the benchmarks. Also, an explanation of things like earnings and sales figures.
For instance, a rise in sales for the most part during the month of December contributes to 30% of overall annual sales for the industry. That can be highlighted by the association with a comment that businesses found to offer deals in December often enjoyed the most sales and earned the most money. So, it adds value by mentioning a point which plain figures aren’t able to explain as clearly.
Value can also be added by giving participants a chance to attend a seminar which discusses how to use the figures to improve for instance sales processes. Get a benchmarking expert onboard to explain how member businesses can use the benchmarking figures. All of which adds value not just to the benchmarks but to the fact that these members will be encouraged to participate the next time around. They may also be motivated to spread the word which increases engagement.
Using A Sophisticated Tool
Associations that have the budget are always encouraged to use a sophisticated benchmarking tool which also includes a survey tool and a way to send the results to members. You can also ask other associations about the tools they use and help get a referral to a useful tool which is beneficial for your association. That said some tools are sophisticated and will require staff training to use effectively. So, make sure to take that into consideration.
The tool you use also should be suited to your business. It should make processes that matter to your association easier. If anything, it should automate most if not all the tasks. So, you don’t have to rely on Excel formulas or some other third-party software to make sense of all the data.
Note:The tools you choose is entirely up to you. Obviously, associations will want to select tools with the highest number of features which are useful to them. Always take into account the features and factor that into how much time and effort it will help you save.
Creating a Platform for Communication
The most effective way to engage with members, deliver benchmarking results and discuss the results is to create a benchmarking platform. By platform, we mean a dedicated web page or a website by the association. That website can act as the front end to even a benchmarking tool as we discussed above. Any survey conducted for benchmarking on the front end of the website can be saved into the tool on the backend. That tool can then automate various types of benchmarks.
The results can then be processed and be available on the website. That should be available along with a place for members to provide feedback. That feedback can then be used to help improve the benchmarking process. It can also be used to address members’ concerns regarding the process, particular questions and what value they perceive.
Make sure to communicate with members that the special website or portal is live. Send invitation emails, to everyone so that they can start participating. Those who are not yet participating need to be sent reminders. Fortunately, modern software can automate much of this which means associations do not have as much overhead.
Associations should also setup regularly scheduled newsletters reminding members amongst other things of upcoming benchmarks. Publishing results and analysis. You may also want to include other essential bits of information like last year’s benchmark’s case studies and various recommendations.
Benchmarking requires a lot more work to initially start, but once things take off, it does not require much to keep it going. However, delivering results and measuring the response is essential. Sometimes you may need to contact members personally. If anything, personal contact can help increase participation, but it does come with a great deal of cost in terms of time and money.
So, it is a balancing act which associations need to be aware of even when it comes to delivering benchmarking results. Associations should always deliver results in a matter which allows them to gather feedback. That’s perhaps best done with a portal of some sort as mentioned above. Finally make sure that the feedback is considered and replied to, so participants don’t feel left out. After all, you want increased engagement and not members dropping out.
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