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Standards benchmarking: how the best get better every year!

Published on 04 March 2020

Standards benchmarking: how the best get better every year!

Firstly thanks to our hosts - Sky in Scotland and RSA in Peterborough were wonderfully accommodating and they enjoyed it too. As RSA’s Jenny Hayes said, “the peer reviewers were great to work with; we are grateful for the feedback and will work on the actions”. These days are great opportunities for members and ourselves to meet and understand challenges and working practices. They are also a wonderful way to take a ‘temperature check’ and find out what is actually happening out in the Planning world.  It was great to see the work that Gill Stephenson’s team at Sky are doing regarding Field Planning as well as seeing the incredible use of Anaplan to manage huge amounts of data that Gareth Willott and team are delivering at RSA.  A big thank you to both Gill and Jenny for sharing their work with us.

For those of you not in the know, let me explain more. The assessment and benchmarks are based our Best Practice Framework for planning. Linked to the Planning Cycle, this focusses discussion on the level of skills and practices needed both in each stage of the planning cycle and the key drivers. Organisations also gain accreditation and best in class examples are shared within the group. The final report not only identifies strengths and areas for development, it also highlights where the team is ‘best in class’ and what are the exact behaviours needed to become best in other areas too. It is a powerful tool in the ongoing development of our members’ Planning functions

In addition, for the member being assessed, it really is an opportunity to take stock of what they do, why they do it and what this means to them and the business. As the teams at RSA and Sky point out,  it’s a rare moment for most teams that they can take the opportunity to be a little introspective and re-assess the purpose of their day to day tasks and, in doing it, some teams can see for the first time how good they actually are as well as figuring out development areas and opportunities for growth. 

And what about our panel of co-assessors?  Well, as Jon Leggate from Anglian Water Services and Nathan Milne of Cooperative Bank found, it’s a unique opportunity to go to see inside another team and learn about things you wouldn’t normally see. What’s more they get to ask questions and explore how these methods can be brought into their own workplace! My esteemed colleague Phil Anderson summed it up perfectly for me when he said that it helps people and businesses to be externally referenced – whether an assessor or the assessed! – and external referencing drives growth and development. Peer reviewers go back to work with a renewed view of what is possible.  It’s also a great opportunity for them to increase their personal network and enhance their reputation as an industry expert.

We’d like to encourage ALL of our members to join Standards Benchmarking – it’s not only for pioneers, but anyone who wants to drive improvement and raise standards. So, if you are interested, please drop me a line on  We are also always looking for suitable people to join our regiment of peer reviewers – again, if this interests you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Author: David Preece
Date: 4th March 2020
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