If you’ve taken the advice from our previous articles, then you’ve begun benchmarking against other departments inside your university or college. Maybe you’ve also begun benchmarking against other peer colleges or universities, and if so, you’ve found that along with the benefits come many challenges.
First challenge: peer colleges and universities don’t provide a diverse enough sample. To begin, you’ll probably gravitate towards people you feel comfortable talking to. That’s to be expected, but it will probably lead you to facility managers with a similar approach and style. Many facility managers will naturally seek out peers who are geographically similar, schools that belong to the same affiliations (ACC, Pac 10, etc). You’ll still gain useful experience, but you probably won’t get as wide a range of information. And that’s what benchmarking depends on: as wide a range of information as possible.
Another challenge you’re likely to face: the top performers in the group won’t benefit. This one’s pretty straight forward – if you’re doing better than the rest of your peers, how will you benefit from peer-to-peer benchmarking? You can only learn so much. And finally, there’s no hard standard that lets you know how the group as a whole stacks up against the industry’s best performers. Peer-to-peer benchmarking can tell you a lot, but the information is only relevant inside the bubble.
If you want to compete with the industry’s best, you’ll have to do more. In the next article, we’ll talk about how joining a trade association can help get you there.