The Good and Bad of Consultant Sponsored Benchmarking Initiatives

Over the past few days, I’ve been preaching the message: “BE LEARY OF THOSE WHO WANT YOUR BENCHMARKING DATA!” I’ve talked about new technologies and internet sharing platforms, peer company sponsored initiatives, and regulators among others. One group that I left out, deliberately, were the management consultants who run these types of consortiums. This is much harder group to discern, largely because there are many types and flavors of consultants to choose from.

I must preface this column with the fact that there are a few “good guys” out there. Programs that have been around a long time, and run these programs for the right reasons- to help their clients keep a pulse on their performance. They don’t abuse the data they get, and they keep a clear line between the benchmarking and consulting side of their business. These organizations exist and are easy to find if you know what you’re looking for.

There are other consultants, however who are after two things: BIG relationships and BIG Projects. Many consulting firms I know that run benchmarking and similar types of consortiums for one purpose- to “wedge inside” your business, identify problems, and then build a MUCH BIGGER relationship with you to to help you solve those problems. There’s not a whole lot wrong with that. After all, I was one of those consultants in my past life. But it’s when the ONLY reason your doing those benchmarking programs is for the bigger project, that things begin to go south. Remember, there are many “best in class” performers who do benchmarking to simply stay in touch with where they sit vis a vis others. I’ve seen too many of these companies get very distracted by what I call “consultant manufactured projects” they didn’t need.

As I stated before, there are some consultants who don’t move in this fashion. But there are many who do. Be on guard as to why your consultant wants you to share your data, and use the checklist posted in our previous column “Rules of the Road” to help you find the partner that is best for you.


Author: Bob Champagne is Managing Partner of onVector Consulting Group, a privately held international management consulting organization specializing in the design and deployment of Performance Management tools, systems, and solutions. Bob has over 25 years of Performance Management experience and has consulted with hundreds of companies across numerous industries and geographies. Bob can be contacted at

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