Guide to Benchmarking
This guide has been developed to assist staff to plan and manage a benchmarking project. For further information, please contact the Strategic Planning & Quality Office (SPQ). To register a
new benchmarking project go to Benchmarking at UOW.
Benchmarking with appropriate partners, at a national or international level, enables the University to compare and evaluate its performance and, in so doing, monitor standards, compare good practice and make quality improvements.
Benchmarking with other institutions also:
- allows for a sharing of knowledge and experience
- promotes contacts and networks
- identifies gaps between current practice and ‘good practice’ thereby providing an opportunity for improvement
- brings an external focus to an internal review
- improves decision-making through referencing comparative data
- helps to demystify and encourage change
- can lead to the identification of new ideas and innovative approaches.
UOW employs a number of different types of benchmarking to support its goal of continuous improvement. These are; International Benchmarking, Sector Benchmarking, Whole-of-institution Benchmarking, Discipline-specific Benchmarking, Standards-based Benchmarking, Process Benchmarking and Internal Benchmarking. For full details of each approach, purpose and examples, download Types of Benchmarking.
Benchmarking can also be characterised as
- quantitative, where the focus is on quantifiable outputs of an operation (eg IAF data); or
- qualitative, which looks at the systems and processes that deliver the results, where benchmarks are generally attributes of good practices.
Selecting appropriate benchmarking partners is critical for successful benchmarking. For further information refer to section 6.1 of the UOW Benchmarking Policy. For details of current UOW benchmarking partners see Benchmarking at UOW.
In general, the area that initiates and manages a new benchmarking project is responsible for providing the necessary resources to complete it. Normally, the following resources are needed:
- Staff time: An investment of staff time is required in developing the project scope and performance indicators with the benchmarking partner(s); developing tools to capture information; liaising with stakeholders; and collecting, analysing and reporting benchmarking data.
- Logistical costs: Telephone and video conferencing; additionally some benchmarking projects may require site visits or participation in benchmarking partners’ forums.
- Implementation costs: The implementation of recommendations arising in the final stage of the benchmarking project may incur costs.
For helpful UOW statistics and additional references see Benchmarking Resources
The value of benchmarking is considerably enhanced if the findings are shared within the University. For further information about reporting requirements, refer to section 6.4 of the UOW Benchmarking Policy. To see recent UOW benchmarking reports go to Benchmarking at UOW.
|Benchmark||A point of reference from which quality or excellence is measured.
|External reference points||External requirements that guide/set the criteria for institutional and academic planning and policy. They may include requirements, guidelines and codes of practice such as the National Protocols for Higher Education Approval processes, the Australian Qualifications Framework, the Higher Education Support Act 2003, the ESOS National Code and accreditation criteria of professional organisations.|
|Good practice||A technique, method, procedure or process which sets a standard for achieving objectives effectively and efficiently, as shown through its demonstrable quality improvements.|
|Peer review||Assessment of quality by recognised fellow practitioners in the relevant field.|
|Performance indicators||These identify the key performance areas that would indicate realisation of good practice.|
|Performance measure||A numeric representation (eg a rating scale, a percentage achievement or a defined improvement) used for self-assessment and comparison purposes for each performance indicator.|
|Self assessment||(self-review, self-evaluation): A formalised and documented approach to assessment against each performance measure, conducted in a collaborative and collegial way.|
Download a Benchmarking Checklist of Key Activities and descriptions.