How to Use Benchmarking in Project Management

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Benchmarking allows all project team members to understand what is expected of them.
Benchmarking allows all project team members to understand what is expected of them. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

One of the main objects of a project management plan is to define goals and set steps and action plans to ensure that the goals are met. Benchmarking in project management refers to setting specific smaller goals that contribute to the overall goal of the project. Benchmarks are sometimes called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs allow project managers to see a full view of the project's progress and identify areas that need additional assistance or team members who may require guidance to successfully perform project tasks.

Create a project management timeline that includes all phases of the project as well as the specific goals the project will achieve. The project should be broken down into sections, for instance, if the project is to redesign an office space to increase employees' ability to work together, phases would include planning, design and implementation. Each phase of the project will have its own set of action steps and goals.

Assign responsibility for each of the action steps and goals in the project timeline. In the office redesign example, one group might be in charge of planning. Action steps might include interviewing employees, researching office design best practices and setting recommendations. The next phase of the project, design, cannot begin until this phase is complete and the recommendations are set. Having a complete set of recommendations is the benchmark that will be achieved before the next phase begins.

Hold team members accountable for the benchmarks assigned to them, and review progress on a regular basis to ensure that the project is moving forward according to schedule. If any of the action items are incomplete when the due date passes, work with the individuals or teams responsible to understand the cause of the delay. Address benchmarks and KPIs directly with the individuals to ensure they understand their role. Occasionally, a benchmark that is not achieved will highlight a flaw in the project. Benchmarks are helpful in this case because they allow you to revise the plan and reset goals before a significant amount of work is done.

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