(Endorsed by the Continuous Quality Improvement Subcommittee on 23 May 2011)
To maximise the benefits of benchmarking to the University or organisational area, careful planning is required to choose partner/s, scope the activity and select and implement an appropriate methodology.
The following guidelines are provided to support the planning and implementation of collaborative benchmarking projects.
1. Deciding whether/what to benchmark
Formal benchmarking projects undertaken by the University and/or organisational areas should:
- have a clear and explicit focus that supports the achievement of strategic goals in priority areas
- be balanced in terms of the value received compared to the costs involved
- be supported by the senior manager/s of the relevant area/s
- be supported by adequate human, financial and other resources.
2. Selecting benchmarking partners
Benchmarking partners should be selected on the basis of:
- shared understanding of goals, commitment to quality improvement and willingness to share information
- demonstrated record of good performance in the area/s to be benchmarked
- in the case of a whole-of-university benchmarking project, compatible mission, values, goals and discipline mix.
The partnership may be informal or may involve an ongoing formal relationship supported by a Memorandum of Understanding.
3. Agreeing on scope and benchmarking model
Benchmarking partners should clearly document their agreement in relation to:
- purpose of the benchmarking activity – this should include the identification of good practice and areas for improvement
- scope of the benchmarking activity – this should be realistic and achievable
- organisational level of benchmarking – for example, institutional, faculty, professional area, discipline, committee
- model of benchmarking to be used – if an existing model cannot be used or adapted, resources may be required to develop and test a suitable new model
- types of information to be shared
4. Initiating the benchmarking project
A benchmarking project proposal should be developed and approved by the manager/s of affected areas at each institution, covering:
- purpose, scope and benchmarking methodology
- responsibilities for coordinating the benchmarking process
- benchmarking team
- additional resources needed
- processes for approval, reporting and follow-up.
Approval for large University-wide benchmarking activities should be obtained from the Vice-Chancellor or relevant member of the Executive.
5. Detailing and documenting a structured benchmarking process
Benchmarking partners should agree on and document:
- design of benchmarking process – this should align with organisational culture and include self-evaluation and peer review (comparing self-evaluations)
- benchmarks (e.g. performance indicators/ good practice descriptors) that provide the foundation for the self-evaluation and peer review – these should be aligned to accepted standards and good practice across the sector
- method/scale for rating performance
- types of evidence to support ratings, including data to be shared
- form/template for documenting outcomes
Agreement should be reached in consultation with relevant academic and/or professional leaders from each institution.
6. Implementing the benchmarking process
Implementation of the benchmarking process should feature:
- appropriate project management
- clear communication of expectations for deliverables and deadlines
- contribution by relevant academic/professional leaders
- broad engagement of relevant areas of the University
- reflection and sharing within and across areas and institutions
- processes for assuring quality of information and reporting
- identification of good practices and areas for improvement
- development of recommendations to address area for improvement.
7. Exchange of information
The following principles should apply in relation to exchanges of information:
- benchmarking exchanges should not be communicated externally without the consent of all participating partners
- benchmarking information should not be used for purposes other than those expressly agreed between the benchmarking partners
- the type and level of information exchanges should be comparable between the benchmarking partners
- all rights relating to any intellectual property developed in the course of a benchmarking activity should be negotiated and recorded by the partners
- commercially sensitive information should not be exchanged without the approval of senior management.
8. Communicating outcomes
Benchmarking outcomes should be shared across the University as appropriate to enhance the value of the process. Deakin encourages the production of benchmarking reports that:
- identify good practices, areas for improvement and recommendations for action
- are discussed at relevant committees and included on the Benchmarking at Deakin website.
9. Integration with quality improvement systems
Project findings and implementation plans should be reflected, as appropriate, in:
- Faculty, Institute and other area operational plans and risk registers
- Committee work plans.