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Establishing an Objectives Driven Product Benchmarking Capability

Market & Competitive Analysis & Benchmarking



North American Division of a Global Manufacturing Giant


The Engineering, Technology and Finance leadership teams were not satisfied with existing competitor benchmarking capabilities and outcomes. In the previous two years multiple benchmarking initiatives did not yield expected results and occupied significant resources. Leadership understood they must continue benchmarking to maintain competitive advantages and understand relative position to inform strategic decision making. The focus of the upcoming benchmarking must mitigate stakeholder objections and perceptions while cultivating a collaborative and engaging environment across 7 departments. The engagement should also establish an operational approach to benchmarking through embedding strategy, knowledge, process, technology, and approach for each department.


Pepper Foster was engaged over a 6 month period to unearth benchmarking objectives, develop a strategy to achieve them, and execute while building a repeatable and efficient benchmarking capability. Throughout initial stages Pepper Foster developed the plan to achieve objectives, maximize investment, and minimize cost. Pepper Foster engaged stakeholders from each participating department to ensure commitment and alignment with objectives, timelines, and departmental roles and responsibilities. During the next phase Pepper Foster ran over 30 workshops which included more than 230 employees across 22 cross functional teams. Pepper Foster communicated interim goals to each team and how they align to objectives, as well as what is required of each individual team. Each team spent between 2-4 hours focused on benchmarking, in which assessments considered product design, cost, manufacturing, customer impact, reliability, and post sales impact. Throughout the next phase Pepper Foster analyzed results and developed next steps to continue minimizing resource occupancy and align actions with objectives. This included transitioning product design improvements and cost reduction opportunities to various departments (to execute), and developing an innovative method to estimate the product cost difference (to inform strategic decision making). Finally, Pepper Foster presented relative product costs to leadership for strategic decision making and handed off the benchmarking playbook to client partners, enabling them to repeat benchmarking on an ongoing basis at a fraction of the cost.


Key outcomes included achievement of the following objectives:

• Elevated strategic decision making (competitive strategy, pricing, etc.) through understanding relative cost between client and competitor

• Identified opportunities for product cost reductions, design improvements, and learning opportunities

An operationalized benchmarking capability (at low cost and high quality) In addition, the project was delivered months ahead of schedule and 35% under budget expectations. From a qualitative standpoint participant survey results were generally favorable, including:

• 78% of respondents understood what the benchmarking project was trying to achieve (remaining 22% of responses directionally neutral)

• 65% of responses recommending the approach moving forward (remaining 35% directionally neutral)

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