Why your organisation should benchmark and 10 tips on how to do it
Todd Reichardt, Parks Manager for the City of Calgary and international friend of Rethinking Parks, shares his top ten reasons why the practice of benchmarking can deliver better outcomes.
A few years ago, we were encouraged to start benchmarking our park system. I had a general idea of what this meant, however, I lacked the ‘know how’ to actually proceed with a bench marking exercise and more importantly, what to actually do with the results.
Not all benchmarking exercises are the same – regardless, the concept has merit. While I still consider myself a neophyte in the world of benchmarking, I thought I’d summarise some of the points including benefits of benchmarking to hopefully encourage you to participate in a benchmarking exercise.
1. Identify the areas of interest – this will require some planning & time; engage your staff to focus your efforts to 1 or 2 items i.e. improve business processes or improve level of service
2. Develop a set of performance measures or targets – consult professional park agencies, park management associations or established park consultants
3. Compare or benchmark your agency to industry best practices or standards using established performance measures. Remember this will help you improve – not an annual to-do activity but rather how to continually monitor and improve your business processes.
4. Don’t benchmark for the sake of telling your organisation that you benchmark – this is real work and requires time & effort but there is a real payoff at the end.
5. Analyse your results – select areas to improve and begin to assess the root causes for the results.
6. Contact the agencies that have strong results in that specific area. The biggest benefit has been the new relationships that we made with representatives from different countries – they have similar issues and different solutions.
7. Determine realistic actions from your results – these can be used to identify work priorities for the next business year. This can motivate your staff to focus on specific items rather than a broad spectrum approach i.e. if we do everything better, our parks will look better.
8. Communicate your results & improvement plan with your staff – they must be actively involved otherwise, you’re going to encounter many barriers to changing your business culture & processes.
9. Benchmarking results allow you to compare your work with the standards performed by other agencies but do not illustrate the internal processes including goals / objectives that they are operating under.
10. Benchmarking is the start of your commitment to improve. There is little benefit to benchmarking unless accompanied by a plan to change or improve your business processes.