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Benchmarking is an ongoing, systematic process for measuring and comparing

the work processes of one organization to those of others that exhibit functional
"best practices." The goal is to provide an external standard for measuring the
quality and cost of internal processes, and to help identify where there may be
opportunities for improvement. To be effective, benchmarking should be
integrated into operations throughout the organization and should be an ongoing
process that analyzes data collected over time. It is a learning process that helps
institutions discover how they can best improve the services, direct or indirect,
that they offer to their customers

Benchmarking process outline

1. Determine what to benchmark
Identify customers

o Grassroots request
o Administration request
Identify customer's requirements in personal meeting
Produce summary of requirements and review with customer
Customer agrees to provide support and resources
Identify critical success factors
o Convert them into measures where possible
o Review them with customer

2. Form a benchmarking team (4-6 people)

Identify type of benchmarking team to organize (intact work team, task
form, ad hoc team)
Select team members based on ability and motivation
Allocate sufficient resources (time, funding, process support)
Identify, train, orient internal benchmarking specialists
Brief senior management regarding its role in supporting the team
Brief support staff on their roles in the process
Supply project planning tools; train team members to use effective project
management techniques

3. Identify benchmark partners

Allocate sufficient time to investigate best-practices partners
Identify specific databases and other resources related to the
benchmarking investigation
Attempt to investigate nontraditional sources of best-practices partners
(for us perhaps Blockbuster Video or Barnes & Noble)
Do not limit potential partners to those that are familiar, geographically
convenient, or friendly to your organization

4. Collect and analyze benchmarking information

Identify information collection methodologies
Develop information-gathering protocol and review with team members
Prepare structured interview outlines
Inform research/library staff of benchmarking information needs
Use multiple methods of collecting information (phone calls, site visits,
Secure sufficient resources to conduct investigation
Collect internal benchmarking information
Prepare briefing package to use with benchmarking partners
Train team in use of information matrices
Check benchmarking information for patterns, misinformation, omissions,

5. Take action
Produce summary report of benchmarking investigation
Send copy of report to benchmarking customers and partners
Report should recommend: specific product/process improvements;
learning opportunities; formation of functional networks
Continue to improve the benchmarking process along with improvements
in product/process