Benchmarking is essentially a tool for improving performance. It is a 'quality process' used to compare the performance of like organisations. Jackson and Lund (2000) describe benchmarking as,
“First and foremost, a learning process structured so as to enable those engaging in the process to compare their services/ activities/ products in order to identify their comparative strengths and weaknesses as a basis for self-improvement and/ or self-regulation.”
The process of benchmarking involves:
- Identifying areas for improvement
- Choosing benchmark indicators (quantitative measures of achievement)
- Collecting information to enable comparisons (in order to improve performance).
Comparisons might be made against:
- individual benchmarking partners or benchmarking groups
- other units within the university
- sets of accepted standards (sector, professional, industry), which may or may not result in certification/accreditation
- data on past performance.