23 the action stage as noted earlier the purpose of

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2.3 The Action Stage As noted earlier, the purpose of the benchmarking exercise is improvement. The goal of benchmarking is not to measure what the competition is doing, but to improve our own performance. This requires the effective implementation of the recommendations for improvement which arise from the benchmarking
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Curtin University of Technology Document for Internal Use Only Page 17 of 24 exercise. Accomplishing the goals and targets contained in the action plan requires a commitment to change, and may prove the most difficult aspect of the benchmarking process. The benchmarking report may be a useful tool here, in providing objective measures of performance which clearly illustrate the need for improvement if parity or superiority to the benchmarking partner is to be achieved. Mere recognition of the need for improvement will be insufficient. Successful change will require effective leadership and planning if those responsible for implementing recommendations are to be galvanised into an effective agency of improvement. 3.0 The ‘Review’ Phase A continuing process of review is necessary to determine whether outcomes have improved, and whether objectives and targets have been met. If they have not, the reason should be ascertained: does the problem lie with the plans, or with their implementation, or is the data analysis incorrect? 4.0 The ‘Improvement’ Phase Having completed the review phase it is important to reflect on the learnings from the benchmarking exercise and to identify how the process and outcomes can be strengthened. This learning will help inform a higher level of continuous improvement as a new cycle of improvement commences. Examples of Benchmarking Projects Examples of benchmarking projects carried out at the University of Otago have included the following. The School of Physiotherapy has benchmarked its clinical teaching against the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland, in order to review both the format and the cost effectiveness of clinical education at Otago. This study proved useful not only in providing alternative approaches to clinical education, but also as an impetus towards change. The Dean of the School of Physiotherapy, Professor S. John Sullivan, commented: It [the benchmarking exercise] is very useful in giving me a quick overview of what is going on elsewhere and "reasons" to reinforce the changes, which were needed in our programme. The most important contribution was that there was concrete evidence that clinical education could be successfully delivered in different formats and thus it was possible to argue for change. We have made major changes to our Clinical Education programme (and are now reflecting budgets) and it seems to be doing fine. Art History and Theory has conducted a more general benchmarking exercise with the University of Essex.
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