Benchmarking. Contents:. Brief definition of benchmarking How benchmarking is applied in the commercial world How benchmarking can be applied to the public sector The main stages in a benchmarking project Designing a simple bench-marking exercise for your own library.
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Some basic definitions:
Benchmark: a reference standard against which other things can be compared.
Benchmarking:the continuous process of identifying, understanding and adapting practices from other organisations to improve the performance of your own organisation.
Benchmarking involves continuously assessing the quality of goods or services against standards of best-practice. It is often included as part of a commitment to total quality management (TQM).
Like many other quality tools, benchmarking was devised by Japanese industrialists in the 1950’s to identify and copy “best practice” in Western manufacturing.
Commercial organisations use bench-marking to compare standards of performance at various levels:
Such activities are essentially about gaining a competitive edge, in terms of cost-cutting, value for money, supply chains and building up market share.
Benchmarks can be set to differing levels, such as:
We shall illustrate these four steps with reference to the Australian National Resource Sharing Working Group Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery (ILL/DD)Benchmarking Study
You may choose to use a panel rather than an individual, to introduce an element of objectivity. The panel should have sufficient gravity to command respect, but not so many members that it becomes unwieldy.
You should consult with all the main parties involved, including those who will undergo benchmarking and the customers of the service.
You should define the topics for bench-marking and processes to be used. This may involve clarifying who your customers are and which outputs you wish to benchmark.
You can set targets to assess quality across many areas:
Begin with standards in key processes the organisation performs, and which are critical success factors in running it effectively.
You identify appropriate targets from comparisons with similar organisations or from accepted standards for “best practice” from the wider literature.
Performance averages broken down by Sector. Include times, costs and Percentage of standard met
Unfortunately, benchmarking exercises do not always run smoothly. Problems for which you might want to plan ahead include:
What lessons can we learn from next time?
Whose fault was it?
Further reading: costs and Percentage of standard met
That’s all folks!