Table 3 benefits of benchmarking benchmarking

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Table 3. Benefits of Benchmarking Benchmarking: provides a systematic approach to quality improvement; brings an external focus to internal activities; utilises existing knowledge about the effectiveness of particular processes; identifies new ideas and technologies; exposes the need for change; establishes the extent of improvement required; demystifies and encourages change; provides a framework for change; decreases subjectivity in decision making; legitimises targets by basing them on hard data; enables the incorporation of `best practices' into one's organisation; encourages a learning culture which is open to new ideas; promotes contacts and networks. Criticisms of Benchmarking Despite its many benefits, benchmarking has not been without its critics. Hammer & Champy (1993) have argued that benchmarking produces a restrictive framework for innovation by focusing on those processes which are already occurring within one's industry, and also sets a cap to ambition by seeking to be only equal to the best. Wolverton (1994) adds that benchmarking's emphasis on current practices may leave us without the freedom to adapt to, and prepare for, the future, and furthermore, that it has the disadvantage of placing organisations in the role of followers rather than leaders. Kerridge (1995) argues that organisations do not need to compare themselves with other organisations, or know how good they are in order to make improvements, while Pederson (1992) questions the ability of benchmarking to provide anything other than marginal improvements in processes. These objections have already been addressed to some degree. Generic benchmarking focuses on organisations outside one's direct industry, and in this way can provide us with a more innovative and less industry-specific framework for change. The adaptive nature of benchmarking means that the recommendations arising from a benchmarking exercise must be attentive to the future, while the requirement that benchmarking be an ongoing process allows for recognition of, and response to, ongoing developments. Nevertheless, the objections mentioned here may apply in some contexts, and it is certainly worth being aware of them. There is no way of guaranteeing that a benchmarking project will produce desirable results, although the potential for improvement is high and the worst result it is likely to produce is increased organisational knowledge. Even marginal improvements in processes and practices can be quite significant to organisational success.
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Curtin University of Technology Document for Internal Use Only Page 8 of 24 Benchmarking Practice The benchmarking process described in this section is designed to take place within the overall context of Curtin University’s Quality Framework.
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