Tuesday, 7 May 2019


Benchmarking ONE: What is Benchmarking and Why do we benchmark?

taken from FOCUS pdf document (which is excellent) (page 28 to 34)

3.1 What is Benchmarking?

Benchmarking with the focus of improvement strategy and quality assurance tool is commonly used, but with different approaches throughout the world. It can be defined as an «ongoing, systematic process for measuring and comparing the work processes of one organization to those of other organisations, bringing an external focus to internal activities, functions or operations». Two widely known definitions of Benchmarking are: «Benchmarking is simply about making comparisons with other organisations and then learning the lessons that those comparisons throw up». (European Benchmarking Code of Conduct) «Benchmarking is the continuous process of measuring products, services and practices against the toughest competitors or those companies recognised as industry leaders

ENQA, Benchmarking in higher public institutions (Benchmarking in the Improvement of Higher Education, ENQA Workshop Reports 2)
Kempner (1993); The Pilot Years: The Growth of the NACUBO Benchmarking Project 3. Benchmarking TEMPUS European Commission 30 (best in class)». (The Xerox Corporation – Pioneers of the benchmarking process)

Private and public organisations use this technique for the improvement of administrative processes and institutional models by examining processes and models in other institutions and adapting their techniques and approaches. One major advantage of Benchmarking is that the tool is rather simple in its application and execution. Essentially Benchmarking is about raising basic questions and attempting to find the answers.
·         How well are we doing compared to others?
·         How good do we want to be? What are our objectives?
·         Who is doing it the best?
·         How do they do it?
·         How can we adapt what they do to our institution?
·         How can we become better than the best?
Finding the answers to these basic questions, combined with a structured approach, and applying a proper methodology has proven to lead to valuable results.

3.2. Why Benchmarking in Higher Education Institutions?

The European Convergence and the internationalization of Higher Education, increasing competition and increasing demand requires Higher Education Institutions to implement strategies to maximize quality of their offer (study programmes and services) to be competitive. Here a key role is played by the Quality assurance of study programmes and services offered by HEIs. Among several improvement strategies and techniques such as Total Quality Management (TQM) or Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Benchmarking has emerged as a useful, easily 31 understood, and effective tool for ensuring and improving competitiveness.6 Institutions experienced in benchmarking describe it as modern management tool and the most effective quality enhancement method leading to growing efficiency and great improvements within the institution. Practical reasons for the success of the method are considered to be that building on the work of others makes sense; that it can lead to cooperation; and that the method is simple and concrete.
The main opportunities presented by benchmarking in HEIs are:
·         Identifying gaps in performance between the institutions and others;
·         Identifying opportunities & threats for future expansion or improvement or the potential to be ‘left behind´;
·         Identifying strengths & weaknesses: strong points or great defects can be identified after being allowed to study the processes of others;
·         Obtaining objective assessment – ‘critical eye’ to be able to objectively study the current performance without paradigm blindness;
·         Justifying current methods, resources and practices (and vice-versa); we may find we are actually operating at a very satisfactory level;

Alstete, J. W. (1995), ‘Benchmarking in Higher Education: Adapting Best Practices To Improve Quality’
ENQA, ‘Benchmarking in higher public institutions’ (Benchmarking in the Improvement of Higher Education, ENQA Workshop Reports 2), www.enqa.eu TEMPUS European Commission

Comparing with competitors or organisations with similar functions or processes; processes can be compared among different types of institutions and also between public and private organisations (for example: human resource management).

3.3. Advantages and concerns of Benchmarking for HEIs

Benchmarking is especially suited for HEIs, because of its reliance on hard data and research methodology, as these types of studies are very familiar to faculty members and administrators. Practitioners’ experiences lay down that Benchmarking at HEIs helps overcome resistance to change by providing specific, real-life examples of success, provides a structure for external evaluation, creates new networks of communication and facilitates sharing valuable information and experiences. Besides substantial evidence of the positive effects of benchmarking, there are arguments used to criticize the method. Such concerns include for example that it is a euphemism for copying, lacking innovation, only has a marginal capacity to improve existing processes and exposes institutional weaknesses. However, evidence clearly shows that Benchmarking can lead to radical changes of processes and innovation, by «adapting» instead of «adopting» best practices. Furthermore, by following 33 the Benchmarking Code of Conduct, confidentiality concerns can be reduced.

3.4. More information on Quality Assurance institutions and initiatives

The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education http://www.obhe.ac.uk

The Observatory undertakes a wide range of research and consulting activities to help subscribing institutions to gain better understanding of current trends and emerging good practice.

EFQM – European Foundation on Quality Management http://www.efqm.org/Default.aspx?tabid=100 Studies and other sources of information for registered members, possibility of participating in Benchmarking Groups: An EFQM Benchmarking Group consists of a variety of organisations from diverse backgrounds that have an interest in learning and sharing on a specific topic in order to improve their overall performance.
European Benchmarking Code of Conduct http://www.efqm.org/en/PdfResources/Benchmarking%20 Code%20of%20Conduct%202009.pdf

The Benchmarking Code of Conduct sets out the ethical and regulatory considerations of undertaking benchmarking, especially in terms of industrial espionage and other unfair competition measures. 9. Alstete, J.W. (1995), ‘Benchmarking in Higher Education: Adapting Best Practices To Improve Quality’ TEMPUS European Commission 34 The Benchmarking Code of Conduct sets out the ethical and regulatory considerations of undertaking Benchmarking, especially in terms of industrial espionage and other unfair competition measures. Consortium for Higher Education Benchmarking Analysis™ http://www.cheba.com/ CHEBA provides a forum for the exchange of performance measurements and benchmarking data for all levels of higher education around the world. The association is currently a free organisation with fees assessed only when members want to join specific benchmarking efforts. Membership is limited to individuals employed as regular employees of public or private institutions of higher education.

FOCUS Quality document – BRILLIANT (page 28 to 34)

HOW do we compare against the best of the best of the best in the world?
Strategies for benchmarking?

FOCUS Benchmarking Tempus Project 2013

The Benchmarking Code of Conduct

Benchmarking in European Higher Education - Report from a two-year project

2006 European Benchmarking Code of Conduct.

another online version of the International Benchmarking Code of Conduct

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