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Trainer’s Tip: Benchmarking


Ever wondered how your department compares with that of other companies? Graham O'Connell offers some advice on how to work out how it measures up.

Benchmarking can be very useful, however, there are a number of factors to consider. Firstly, how big, formal and sophisticated you want to make this project. I suspect that most people in training and development tend to approach this fairly informally rather than go the whole hog.

For a first timer, I'd suggest keeping it simple. Secondly, decide who you might benchmark against and why. This might be against a company who claims to be 'good', someone local or someone you know through networking. Most companies are flattered to be asked and there is often something to be learnt from even from those who are not top notch. Some are understandably cautious, particularly if it involves giving away potentially competitive information to a stranger, if you can offer something in return that can help.

I would suggest you benchmark metrics and processes. Metrics being everything from the number of days delivery an internal trainer does, spend per employee through to performance measures such as value for money indicators. Processes being booking processes, monitoring e-learning, evaluation procedures and so on. It is best if you probe to find out what works and why rather than take things at face value. I would also say that the main purpose is to learn how and why things work so that you can adapt it to fit your situation, for example, rather than simply copying.

There may also be merit in benchmarking against the less obvious. Try benchmarking your booking process against that of a holiday company for example.

As a final thought, you could meet up with a couple of like minds from other companies to design the ideal training and development function and then benchmark against that. This works well where you are struggling to find a suitable candidate for a more usual form of benchmarking.


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