Project benchmarking produces actionable comparing data regarding your peers. Thus, the project management benchmarking metrics gauge your efficacy level. Project managers use this data to analyze how to proceed with a project. Therefore, the benchmarking process rests on independent project analysis.

Such performance metrics shed light on how productive your business processes are. If the results show a subpar project performance, future projects should not follow suit. Once on the path towards continuous improvement, project success won’t be an elusive outcome.

Basic Principles to Implement

Both internal and external project management benchmarking aim to finalize a set of goals. Regarding project management, the task boils down to cost-effective growth methods. Thus, the first essential goal is to identify areas in need of improvement. The next step is to compare your results with those of another team of similar scope.

In practice, project benchmarking involves a strategic approach. At the same time, the preparation requires usable research data and charts. This can lead to several goals:

  • Identify how to proceed toward an important milestone
  • Learning how to utilize and compare relevant data
  • Measure performance against the well-known industry peers

However, you shouldn’t aim at a wide area when benchmarking. Instead, narrow your search to ensure you figure out the right metrics. To do so, gather as many external sources about your direct competitors as you can. Next, hone in on the most critical aspects for improving productivity.

Main Benefits and Necessary Preparations

All project management benchmarking efforts should connect in a better action plan. Together, they should iron out the bumps you usually face at certain project stages. Thus, collecting accurate performance data is necessary for that research process.

Internal benchmarking can also call for third-party consultants. Such strategic planning can aid your future endeavors in the following ways:

  • Assess your team’s strengths. Hoarding relevant data will highlight the aspects you excel at.
  • Set the grounds for continuous improvement. Following industry standards and inspecting market surveys are the hallmarks of competitive benchmarking.
  • Delegate responsibilities. Benchmarking allows you to monitor progress and hold all project teams accountable.
  • Shoot for superior performance. Reviewing your latest results sheds light on the weaker links in the chain. If possible, avoid repeating those patterns in the future.
  • Shortlist the usual pitfalls. All project types fall victim to pitfalls that teams need to learn how to handle. Note these recurring pain points and discuss how to overcome them.
  • Inspect your peers’ project schedules. Summarize how your competitors find a resolution and try to copy their workarounds. At the same time, identify the areas they fail to improve on.
  • Determine how to boost performance. The decision-making team should have a clear notion of what needs changing. Then, they should devise an action plan that won’t exceed the current budget.
  • Streamline the operations. Aside from time, money is the most important resource. Thus, impress the stakeholders by coming up with cost-effective solutions.
  • Accept constructive feedback. Customer satisfaction is your biggest goal. So, to earn the audience’s loyalty, pay attention to their input.

Implementation Methods and External Factors

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In modern commerce, there are no one-fits-all solutions. Instead, companies keep on deriving new methods for optimal growth. Thus, the common project management benchmarking methods include various external factors.

For example, they focus on quality assurance and the task of finding potential partners. The channels for collecting data from other projects are another focal point. The end result is often aimed at the upcoming market trends, though.

Use Historical Data

To gain a competitive advantage, start by getting your house in order. On many occasions, some of your departments might provide subpar performance. Still, you can improve their metrics by sharing another team’s shortcuts with them.

So, the internal benchmarking process focuses on the overall performance of your team. However, focus on specific activities to secure improvement over a time period. Also, use the correct tools to set those internal processes on the right track.

Compare Your Results With the Current Standards

Many benchmarking tools streamline comparing your team to other businesses. To set the grounds for a fruitful evaluation, find usable data sources. On this note, consider relying on partner consortiums for multiple viewpoints.

Gauge Your Company’s Growth

Apply a maturity model to summarize whether your company reaches new milestones on time. Thus, ensure that you don’t shy away from change or take too long to adjust. If you notice such backward trends, quickly identify what’s holding you back.

Brands mostly opt to approach this task by hiring external experts. Then, they can inspect their objective findings and be precise with the solutions. However, this approach cannot yield substantial long-term solutions. Only an ongoing process can turn a brand into a market leader.

Focus on the Key Performance Indicators

Consider using advanced benchmarking software to support your internal benchmarking process. Input all essential KPI data to gain a workable overview of your current metrics. Sometimes, the project’s outline will be at fault, meaning you’ll have to reconfigure its moving parts.

At the same time, inspect the ongoing marketing efforts. If there’s little revenue on that front, ditch certain tactics in favor of effective ones. So, moving from one issue to the next is the best way to improve your overall performance metrics.

Strive to Outdo Your Competition

Assume that your peers also struggle to overcome certain challenges like your team. Yet, their set of pain points might slightly differ from your own. Therefore, inspecting their practices can show you how to deal with some road bumps.

Thus, try to gain leverage in this manner:

  • Observe how the market trends shift
  • Hire a team for expert competitor analysis
  • Track their published information and pricing lists
  • Inspect their market shares and profit margins

Determine an Ideal Systematic Approach

Consider building a multi-step system of values to gauge your project management efficacy. To do so, collect enough data from your past endeavors. Address all corners of your organization to gain an accurate representation of the shortcomings.

Using such an approach, you can tackle each component separately. That way, you’ll garner a clear understanding of what you keep doing wrong. This is an effective method that’s one of the mainstays regarding benchmarking in general.

Compare With the Global Brands

To gain a better notion of where you need to be, also use broader strategic benchmarking. For such an exercise, investigate the success stories in other industries as well. For example, look at how Southwest Airlines borrowed some know-how from NASCAR teams.

Third-Party Benchmarking

Relying on a third party to evaluate your progress is often advantageous. Many construction companies submit their data to an online portal for detailed dissection.

So, ensure to include all sectors in that study to create in-depth reports.

Compare the Financial and Non-Financial Measures

Various external factors can assume the form of recurring bottlenecks for your team. Sometimes, the project budget will not fit the concurrent labor costs.

Also, bad weather can prevent you from achieving a certain outcome. However, knowing what held you back in the past can assist you when planning out a new project.

Examples of Project Benchmarking

Assume a brand that sticks to the same ticketing system for all tasks. For example, within the IT and customer service departments. However, the prior achieves a very high completion rate, sitting around the 80% mark. Thus, the operating officer decides to inspect why it is so.

She collects data on how the IT team approaches their daily tasks. Soon after, she notices a recurring pattern. Namely, that team starts by inspecting what each order ticket entails. Then, they look for a member with prudent experience in that area to assign it to.

In comparison, the customer service department divides the work on a “who is available” basis. Learning this, she instructs them to follow the IT team’s example. After a few weeks, the customer service reps started showing a far better turnaround time.

Common Challenges

A major part of internal benchmarking revolves around internal data collecting. Yet, some data will prove very hard to identify and even harder to implement. The same goes for when trying to compare to another business. Also, resorting to external help leads to more expenditures.

The task of figuring out the most relevant comparing points is another hurdle. Companies deal with a myriad of issues, and it’s hard to pinpoint where exactly they falter. Hence, the critical data remains visible but also difficult to identify. To filter out the info, you’ll need to embark on a prolonged evaluation period.

In any case, the benchmarking process should result in changes. It goes hand-in-hand with proper evaluation and risk assertion methods. So, in order to benefit the project team, benchmarking should utilize actual performance metrics.

Conclusion on Project Management Benchmarking

Benchmarking in project management reflects constant process improvement. To preserve an esteemed market position, managers never cease to innovate. Nowadays, the whole world is a shared market stage, which further complicates the task of staying competitive.

Therefore, brands always look for new ways to evaluate their current standing. That means comparing with their closest peers as well as with the market leaders. Luckily, there’s a way to funnel all applicable data in one place. To do so, access the internal data and utilize it in an effective internal benchmarking process.

If you liked this article talking about project management benchmarking, you should check out this one about challenges in project management.

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I'm the manager behind the Upcut Studio team. I've been involved in content marketing for quite a few years helping startups grow.