To copy from one is called cheating; to copy from many is called benchmarking.
Unless you're doing something original, somewhere someone has already gone through all the pain, made all the mistakes and is now with all the hindsight. It's true to say that experience is what you get just after you need it. If you're undertaking or about to undertake a project, learn lessons from those that have previously done the same or similar. If you're buying a product then get an indicator that you're getting value for money by comparing your costs with those that are buying the same!
Competitive Analysis Benchmarking
Very common in industries where similar products are in the market, a typical example would be the automotive industry. Competitive analysis benchmarking (CAB) is where a competitor's product is broken down into its component form and scrutinised and compared against your own product.
Reviewing processes and manufacturing techniques can lead to improvements and savings to your own products
Reverse engineering of the benchmark world!
To benchmark you must have a clear understanding of what needs to be improved and why.
Careful selection of who to benchmark against, internally and/or externally.
Clear understanding for the reason for any difference in performance.
Establish goals and target that are challenging and achievable with effort.
A willingness to change and adapt based on the benchmarking findings
Persistence! Results will not necessarily come quickly and easily.
Only measure what is truly important - Start simple with 1 or 2 things
Information is useless unless you act upon it!
Don't give up too early!