In this installment of the benchmarking series I cover team composition. The team is a critical aspect of any project and a benchmarking effort is no different. There are roles on a benchmarking team that you’d expect to see on any project team, but there are some that are unique to this type of project. Not having these roles filled and clarified can cause you some serious problems.
Also, if a role is outlined below, it doesn’t mean this is a full-time assignment. It very well may be on a large benchmarking project, but may be a “night job” on a smaller project. These aren’t always different people, either. You’ll find multiple skill sets in your team, and you should allow members to fill multiple roles when appropriate. For example, the analyst, PM, or process owner might be the same individual.
The key roles
Executive Champion – This is the person that will provide the initial credibility to the project. They provide political coverage, decision-making authority, and most importantly, resource authority in the way of budget and or human resources. This is usually the senior executive whose organizational scorecard will see the benefit from the improvements discovered during the project.
Project Manager – This is the person that needs to dedicate a portion of their “day job” to this effort. Just as with any project manager, this role is vital to making sure the timeline, milestones, and deliverables of the project are met.
Process Owner – For this role, you don’t have to have the person in the organization that owns the process from a managerial perspective. It isn’t about their management role or title, it is about their tacit knowledge. Use that as your decision factor: who knows the most about the process or issue being benchmarked.
Facilitator – The facilitator is the person skilled in working with people. During the project you will be conducting meetings to gather and report information with both external and internal groups. You need someone skilled in moving groups through a discussion towards a common goal or understanding.
Data Analyst – Every project will involve some level of data and information analysis, and this skill is vital to the success of the project. All of your hard work will be wasted if you don’t have someone that can assimilate data and information, recognize patterns, and give it the context it needs for your organization.
Other roles worth noting
Legal – It is always a good idea to involve a contact from your legal group if the project will be dealing with sensitive data or information, especially cost-related information.
Include the “Nay Sayer”. There is always one person that is very vocal about the problems in your organization. If their span of control impacts the process you are benchmarking, channel their passion for the topic by including them on the team. In my experience, the process of benchmarking will convert them to an advocate for change 90%+ of the time.
The team is vital and picking it carefully can ensure both a successful project and build momentum for implementing the outcomes you uncover.