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How to benchmark your way to better telecomm.

Benchmark, as defined, is a standard or point of reference in measuring or judging quality, value, etc.

Data developed for benchmarking enables telecomm managers to compare their operations with operations of their peers at similar companies, then use those operations perceived to be best-in-class as guides to the most efficient applications and procedures, for choosing the best equipment for particular tasks, for selecting the most-compatible vendors, and for identifying other options, both technical and administrative, that can improve the ability to meet corporate needs.

In short, it is a way for managers to find out what the best practices and possibilities really are by sharing comparable information with peers at other companies and adopting practices that can result in improvements.

Material on benchmarking standards was developed for a Tele-Communications seminar conducted by Marty Hill of Boeing Computer Services, Jim Harvey of Kaiser Permanente, Bill Taylor of Hewlett-Packard and Toby Trowt-Bayard of Sequent Computer Systems.

Well-defined standard definitions to be used by all companies for measurements can be arranged into three general categories--voice, data (LAN or WAN) and video. Sub-categories include personnel, equipment, transport and vendors.

Benchmarking and metrics are of major concern to many end users, who want to learn more about their operating options. Benchmarking is a useful tool for managers needing a standard approach to support their discussions of telecomm evaluation with corporate executives.

TCA sponsorship adds validity to the process as an industry-recognized standard.

A manager's corporate goals for benchmarking should be to clearly understand and support the business needs; enable the company to identify business opportunities; rapidly identify and implement appropriate technology; be well-positioned for future changes in needs and technology; identify breakthrough opportunities; offer services that are easy to understand and use; provide high-quality, highly reliable, cost-effective service; readily identify and control usage and cost; and manage services with minimum staff and overhead.

Benchmarking objectives can include both quantitative and qualitative benchmarking to understand where other companies excel and why; to understand how they achieve and sustain excellence; to identify and analyze factors that influence excellence; to understand how other companies have overcome operating obstacles; to distill those findings into specific efforts and programs that will improve telecomm performance and help lead to excellence; and to determine "What's keeping my company from becoming best-in-class?"

The committee listed 10 Steps of Benchmarking:

1. Identify what to benchmark.

2. Identify comparable companies to match against.

3. Determine what data to collect and methods of collection.

4. Determine one's own performance gaps from comparisons with selected similar companies.

5. Project possible improvements in level of performance.

6. Communicate findings and discuss them with management to obtain support for future improvements.

7. Establish future goals.

8. Develop an action plan.

9. Implement the plan and monitor results.

10. Evaluate results against bench-markign data.

While some managers with the necessary commitment and resources may prefer to conduct the entire benchmarking project themselves, others might find it helpful to hire an external consultant.
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Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Benchmarking
Author:Morken, Cal
Publication:Communications News
Article Type:Tutorial
Date:Jul 1, 1994
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