Why benchmark benchmarking assists in the achievement

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Why Benchmark? Benchmarking assists in the achievement of excellence, enabling `quantum leaps' in improvement by borrowing and adapting the successful ideas and practices of organisations while avoiding unproven or problematic strategies. Benchmarking increases the potential for improvement in numerous ways (see Table 3). One of the most important benefits of benchmarking is the discovery of innovative approaches, a function of particular importance as enhancement of current practices is rarely sufficient to ensure future excellence. Benchmarhing helps create the learning organisation: a group of dedicated individuals who actively pursue excellence, growth and knowledge. If the experts are right..., only those organisations that can quickly learn from and master their environments will survive into the twenty-first century. Objective information can help trigger the transformation to the continuous improvement philosophy, but it can only do so if it is continually reapplied and reinforced. Benchmarhing sets the framework for excellence, attaining it depends on the actions that are taken once the results are in. (Leibfried & McNair, 1992: 320-321) Much of benchmarking's strength lies in its balance between quantitative and qualitative measurements of processes and outcomes. Although the informal exchange of information has long been a part of academic culture, benchmarking provides a formal and objective structure for this exchange. Due to its reliance on hard data and research methodology, benchmarhing is especially suited for institutions of higher education in which these types of studies are very familiar to faculty and administrators. Practitioners at colleges and universities have found that benchmarhing helps overcome resistance to change, provides a structure for external evaluation, and creates new networks of communication between schools where valuable information and experiences can be shared. (Alstete, 1995: v) By highlighting problem areas as well as the potential for improvement, benchmarking provides an incentive to change and assists in the setting of objectives and targets. Furthermore, its emphasis on understanding the processes underlying successful practice makes it a useful tool in establishing action
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Curtin University of Technology Document for Internal Use Only Page 7 of 24 plans and initiatives for achieving these goals. Benchmarking is thus a comprehensive and selfcontained method for improving organisational practices: it highlights areas needing improvement, it provides objective data to illustrate the need for change in these areas, and it leads to the formulation of plans and initiatives for bringing about the required improvements. Benchmarking is thus a critical component in Curtin’s overall approach to quality enhancement.
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