Some people simply use benchmarking results to justify the status quo.
Since raw benchmarking results can be deceptive, this is easy to accomplish. Unfortunately, this is not what Benchmarking is meant to do.
Really, Benchmarking is the just the first step in an important process to improve what you do.
As the first step, you need to understand how the benchmarking results you are using have been compiled, the sample size, the type of facilities, location, services and more in order to perform an effective comparison.
Here is an example of how benchmarking can make it easy to justify the status quo:
Some time ago, I managed a 1,000,000 sq.ft. Facility for a major telecommunications company as part of my portfolio. I participated in the BOMA benchmarking study (Experience Exchange Report). Two other buildings owned by our company also in the 1M sq.ft. and larger categories were included in the study, which had a total of almost 7M sq.ft. in total. This meant that 50% of the category was represented by facilities owned and occupied by a major telecommunications company.
Clearly, this wasn’t a representative benchmark, but other organizations wouldn’t have known this fact unless they studied the information carefully. For many, this would have been a simple exercise. We were pushing costs down significantly at the expense of service at that time, so the comparison would have made many others feel very good about their results and possibly simply left it at that.
In another example, I met with a Director of Facilities for a University a while back who was satisfied that his facility fell in the middle range of benchmarking results for his category. Unfortunately, not only was he satisfied with being average, his category of facilities wasn’t known for leading the industry.
In any case, benchmarking should be a starting point, not an ending point. If you use generic benchmarking, such as IFMA and BOMA, they should simply point you to areas you should study in more depth and you should be careful when comparing benchmarking results to your buildings and make suitable adjustments before making any decisions.
The most effective benchmarking is between selected facilities with similar characteristics as yours where the differences are understood and are adjusted for up-front. This provides you with a real comparison. Then the next step is to understand why you are under (or over) performing in certain areas and with that knowledge, you can take action.
After all, benchmarking should always lead to action, otherwise why bother?