Smart benchmarking

h2index partner Phil Hopley explains what makes their benchmarking research so distinctive. It’s precise, smart and has high impact.


Phil: “Every benchmarking study is tailored to fit our client precisely. We invest a lot of time working with them to understand the scope, context and type of participants required so that the work programme and study questions provide exactly the information they need.”

The scope of a benchmarking study varies considerably, for example:

  • How are other people organised?
  • What good ideas are out there?
  • How does our performance compare with that of our peers?
  • Which specific tools are people using and how well do they work?
  • What can go wrong with the new service we are planning to introduce?

These questions may arise from a wider context, such as:

  • justifying investment because they are out-of-line with their peers or could improve performance
  • establishing how well a current provider performs relative to the market.

The right participants

It is important to define appropriate comparators. For example, a client looking for service desk benchmarking may have their current desks in North America. If they can only locate their desks in North America, h2index selects participants with the same geographical footprint.

Depending upon the circumstances, some companies ask to be compared with organisations in their own area of business; others prefer to find out how they compare with different industries.

The context of the participants matters too. When otherwise similar organisations report widely different values, this may be due to factors such as transitioning after a merger or differing operational pressures. Or it could be because one is better organised than the other.

These subtle but important differences directly determine the validity of the comparison.


What makes the studies smart is that h2index has the privileged position of a detailed understanding of both the client and participating companies’ data and contexts, which it brings into the final report. Phil: “Our clients tell us that we are unusual because we not only give them the comparison results, but also interpret their significance to them.”


Companies sometimes find it difficult to take action on traditional benchmarking results. But if the information is clearly comparable, is interpreted within with their business context, and the need for action is compelling, then they are much more likely to proceed.

h2index’s benchmarking model has a several advantageous consequences:

  • it is not a prelude to long-term consulting work so the insight is more objective
  • minimal client resources are required
  • reports are turned round quickly, typically within three months.

Phil: “All our studies are confidential. Both client and participants only see aggregated and anonymised data. If requested, we are happy to ask any participant if they are willing to talk directly to our client. Invariably people are happy to do this and we’ve made many such introductions which have proved useful to both parties. In fact these conversations led to the creation of our forums.”