Benchmarking online using the Internet

Benchmarking: An International Journal

ISSN: 1463-5771

Article publication date: 1 March 2000



Zairi, M. (2000), "Benchmarking online using the Internet", Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol. 7 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Benchmarking online using the Internet

Since virtuality is no longer a small-scale experiment, but rather represents part and parcel of what many organizations do on an everyday basis, it is therefore feasible to consider whether or not and how benchmarking can be incorporated as part of a modern business environment using the Internet as a means for integrating it (benchmarking) to all business processes.

The potential that the Internet offers is very significant and perhaps it is worthwhile considering the advantages and perhaps the drawbacks from such an idea.

Usefulness of online benchmarking

Among the chief advantages of doing benchmarking online are:

  • flexibility and global access to organizations;

  • cheapness of benchmarking in this manner;

  • continuous interrogation, communication and follow-up;

  • speed of response;

  • data/information availability at the finger-tips;

  • access to the right people;

  • quick evaluation of what is useful and what is not useful; and

  • ease of managing projects (multi-access in parallel, no boundaries, no diary problems, no disruptions, etc.).

Among the chief drawbacks of doing benchmarking online are:

  • the principle of "seeing is believing" may not be applied easily;

  • the validation of the information is going to be "subjectively done";

  • the logistics of managing information received;

  • the protocols of exchanges and conducting the benchmarking transactions; and

  • issues of legality and confidentiality are not easily assessed and addressed when relying on the Internet.

In the "conventional" approach to benchmarking, organizations had to ensure that the teams involved in benchmarking projects were trained on aspects of methodology, etc. They were also expected to be competent in the areas of investigation. The requirements for online benchmarking are perhaps slightly different in the sense that in addition to knowledge of the business and/or processes to be benchmarked and of benchmarking methodologies/project management tools, they must also be competent in the following fields:

  • using the Internet tools for conducting searches and accessing information;

  • being able to digest large amounts of information and distil out value from them;

  • knowing how to design reliable methods for gathering the information in the first place;

  • being able to validate the "credibility" of the information being supplied; and

  • having analytical skills for interpreting the information and preparing action plans from it.

Overall, online benchmarking may not replace conventional project-based benchmarking but it will be a necessary element of "virtual organizations", particularly so as we are entering the era of the information society.

Mohamed Zairi

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