Performance indicators also need to be relevant to

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Performance indicators also need to be relevant to the topic being addressed and sufficiently precise to allow a detailed understanding of the factors contributing to successful performance. Taken together, the group of indicators used should present an approximation of a complete picture of the benchmarked topic. In order to achieve this, performance indicators will need to be selected for each of the core processes and outcomes relating to the topic under consideration. Furthermore, each indicator should focus on a discrete and clearly defined part of the process being studied, so that in the analysis stage detailed differences in procedure and performance can be identified. Precise indicators will facilitate adaptation of successful practices to one's own institution, by allowing a corresponding degree of precision when formulating plans for improvement. When the collected data are analysed they will need to be understood in terms of the numerous contexts in which the studied processes are embedded. For example: a benchmarking partner may show high performance, but new operating systems may be responsible for an actual decline in the partner's performance (compared to past performance); differences in research output may be accounted for by different levels of governmental funding; and a renowned organisation's reputation may be responsible for attracting top quality staff and students, affecting overall performance. An awareness of the need to contextualise benchmarking data should be kept in mind when selecting performance indicators. However, it should not be expected that the data alone will be sufficient to produce this contextualisation. Performance indicators do not provide an actual assessment of performance; instead, they perform a signalling function . Informed expert judgement, using the additional insight gained from the indicators, is necessary in order to provide a meaningful interpretation of institutional performance (Meade, 1994). The availability of data pertaining to performance indicators should also be considered. The use of existing data will greatly reduce the cost and difficulty of a benchmarking exercise. Quantitative measures of performance are liable to be readily available through the information management systems of institutions. University Measures University Online Data and Information Systems 1.5 Selecting a benchmarking partner The search for a benchmarking partner begins in the planning stage but might not be finalised until after the internal processes of the organisation have been assessed, as an understanding of the institution's own processes may clarify what is required of the benchmarking partner. Alternatively a specific institution may be targeted on the basis of its reputation for excellent performance. Benchmarking need not be carried out
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Curtin University of Technology Document for Internal Use Only Page 13 of 24 with only one partner; several organisations may be benchmarked, to an effective maximum of four to eight partners.
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