Benchmark Success for Your Business

0804675Behind any successful company is an effective benchmarking strategy. If your business isn’t doing so already, it’s time to start comparing performance levels with other like-minded businesses to ensure continued success.

With that in mind, here are a number of reasons why benchmarking your business is so important:

Keeping up with Standards

In every industry, there is a standard for which success is measured. This standard is based on everything from business comparisons to key performance indicators (KPIs) such as sales volume and turnaround times.

Without comparing your business to the standard, you would have no idea where your business is success and performance wise.

Benchmarking allows your business to compare itself to industry best practices and standards. By benchmarking your business on a regular basis, you can stay in-line with industry standards while also setting goals for future performance. This is a crucial strategy in today’s competitive business world.

Discovering Strengths and Weaknesses

Regularly benchmarking your business, in combination with using management software, can help your business discover its strengths and weaknesses.

By comparing financial, overhead, productivity, and customer satisfaction data with other businesses in your industry, you can quickly find areas where changes need to be made.

Benchmarking focuses on strengths and helps your business take full advantage of its assets.

As the following article looks at benchmarking and your practice management software also excels in finding business weaknesses.

By comparing KPIs to other industry leaders, you can pinpoint weaknesses and implement improvements quickly.

Tracking Productivity

A productive business is a healthy business, but only if there are other productivity standards to compare to. Through benchmarking, your business can track the productivity and overhead levels of other industry leaders and implement improvements accordingly.

Productivity is measurable in many different areas of business including finances, overhead costs, sales, and customer retention.

Benchmarking allows your business to track these productivity metrics and compare them to a number of like-minded competitors.

Establishing Goals

Benchmarking isn’t just about discovering where your business stands within your industry; it’s also about setting future goals based on current comparisons.

Whether your business website’s search ranking is lower than other similar businesses or your sales are average, benchmarking will inspire improvement.

There is a good chance other businesses in your industry are outperforming your business. Not to worry, benchmarking will give you a better understanding of how your business is performing as well as where it’s underperforming. This will help you establish long-term goals that will accelerate your business toward success.

Internal Benchmarking

The information above directly relates to external or best practice benchmarking, which compares your business to other standards within your industry. This is an important part of the process, but it’s not the entire process.

To truly achieve success, your business also needs to practice internal benchmarking.

With internal benchmarking, your business compares best practices and performance standards between departments, management teams, and even individuals within your company.

In order to gain a better understanding of your business and where it stands within your industry, adopting a benchmarking strategy may be a necessary.

About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including business planning and success strategies.

The Evolution of Standards-based Education

The evolution of the standards-based movement can be traced back to the successful launching of the Soviet spacecraft, Sputnik, in October 1957. Following the launch of Sputnik, Life magazine published a series of articles titled, “Crisis in Education,” stating that America had not only fallen behind in the race to launch a spacecraft, but also in educating our children.

In 1989, President George H.W. Bush held the first ever National Education Summit aimed at drafting national goals for education. American students leaving the 4th, 8th, and 12th grades were to demonstrate competency in challenging subject matter. President Bush announced these educational goals in his State of the Union address in January 1990. The National Education Goals included:

  • preparing preschool children properly so they are ready to learn;
  • reducing the dropout rate; improving academic performance;
  • more opportunities for teacher education and professional development; increased attention to math and science;
  • more workforce development to increase adult literacy and lifelong learning;
  • and safer, drug-free schools (NEGP, 1990).

In 2001, President George W. Bush signed The No Child Left Behind Act into law, forcing the nation’s schools system to comply with testing, reporting and accountability requirements. The overarching goal of NCLB is to ensure that every child, regardless of economic disadvantage, racial or ethnic identity, or limited English language skills, become proficient in core subjects taught in public school (NCLB, 2001). Achievement gaps between socio-economic groups are to be identified and closed so children of all race and income levels can read and do math at grade level by the year 2014. The four main principles of No Child Left Behind are:

  • holding schools accountable to show students are learning;
  • increasing flexibility for schools reaching goals;
  • providing more options for parents to choose outside of low-performing schools; and,
  • using research on what works best for student learning (U.S. Department of Education, 2001).

Schools are required to make “Adequate Yearly Progress” and to report that progress by various subgroups which can amount to over 30 groups – ethnic groups, special education students, English Language Learners, etc. If any subgroup fails to make AYP for two consecutive years, all students in the school must be offered the opportunity to transfer to a “successful school.” The school might be doing well by 36 of its 37 subgroups, but according to federal standards the school is “failing.” Groups of educators and parents have been critical of the No Child Left Behind Act arguing against the use of standardized testing to evaluate school progress because some students perform better on standardized tests than others (Rabb, 2004).

Classroom teachers report feeling pressured to “teach to the test” in order to ensure good scores for their schools. The benchmarks for success in No Child Left Behind depend on punishment (Bracey, 2006). Schools that do not do well, often through no fault of their own, are sanctioned for doing poorly. If a school is determined to be “failing” under the No Child Left Behind standards, sanctions are imposed on the school. Corrective action for failing schools can include firing school staff, restructuring school administration, bringing in outside professionals, and a new curriculum.

As an educator, I am not arguing for the elimination of standards in education, however, it is possible to adhere to state and national standards and at the same time engage students in technology-rich lessons and class projects. In fact, it is essential that we not only address curriculum and technology standards in lessons, but that we also utilize innovative practices to engage our students and teach them to become self-directed learners.