Original Date: 05/08/1995
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Benchmarking Process
The McDonnell Douglas Aerospace (MDA)-St. Louis benchmarking program builds on techniques used by companies such as Xerox, IBM, AT&T, Texas Instruments, and Motorola. It is a systematic and continuous measurement process for collecting benchmarks on superior processes, products, and services from other organizations. The process determines the specific actions for enhanced performance and integrates the results into the MDA-St. Louis Continuous Process Improvement Process.
A five-step approach (Figure 2-16) is applied in this MDA effort. Before a study is conducted, process capabilities, expectations, goals, and metrics are established and obvious problems are addressed. The company is highly selective in its benchmarking program. For example, in determining what to benchmark, MDA-St. Louis focuses on critical or high priority processes, products, or services that impact customer satisfaction and provide a competitive advantage.
The process is disciplined and uncomplicated. Easy-to-use templates provide guidance for selecting and prioritizing benchmarking topics, performing benchmarking readiness assessments, and other key activities. Hierarchy models of the types of benchmarking and data collection methods are applied, and personnel are trained in the advantages and disadvantages of each method (Figure 2-17). Benchmarking champions at the company and corporate levels provide consistency and leadership in continuing to develop and improve the benchmarking process.
Training development for benchmarking includes looking at the best training programs in industry. Three classes are available at MDA-St. Louis a one-day course, a two-hour overview, and the Voluntary Improvement Program. The classes are available to all MDA-St. Louis employees and are also offered to suppliers and external customers at no charge. All senior management at the vice-president and director levels have received the two-hour overview. Government representatives have also been trained, and the courses are in demand by suppliers.
The benchmarking process is very effective in obtaining participation from benchmarking partners. One indication of this is a response rate of consistently greater than 50% for benchmarking questionnaires sent to other companies more than double the national average response rate. Future improvements to the process include development of an internal database of best practices, corporate-wide process integration, and continuous improvement.
Figure 2-16. The Five Step Benchmarking Process
Figure 2-17. Benchmarking Process Features
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