Six Sigma–What Should Companies Benchmark?


In the fourth chapter of their book Six Sigma:  The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World’s Top Corporations, Ikel Harry, Ph.D. and Richard Schroeder discuss the issue of benchmarking:   what it is, why companies should benchmark, what categories of benchmarking exist, and how Six Sigma methods can assist in benchmarking.   All of these topics are discussed in previous posts.

The final topic of the chapter is:  having discussed the various types of benchmarking and their methods, what specifically do the authors recommend that a company should benchmark?   Here are their suggestions of topics to consider:

1.   Customer satisfaction

2.   Internal areas of competition (between divisions)

3.  External areas of competition

4.  Major cost drivers

5.  Easily improved processes

6.  Product characteristics (to differentiate yours from those of competitors)

7.  Critical-to-quality characteristics (CTQs)

No matter what you choose to benchmark, the authors agree on one thing:   it has to be something that the company does on a continuous basis.   Why?   The purpose of benchmarking is to improve your company and its processes.  But just remember, other companies are improving their processes at the same time.   Your competitors are (or should be) moving targets!

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