Benchmarking is a business excellence tool for finding, adapting, and implementing leading practices to achieve superior performance. It is a powerful performance management tool that can be used to generate both incremental change and wide-ranging strategic reform. It is a learning process in which information, knowledge, and experience about cutting-edge practices are shared through partnerships between organizations. It allows an organization to compare itself with others and, in the process, step back from itself and reflect. Comparative measurement through the identified benchmark parameters helps to identify problems, gaps, and opportunities and also tests hypotheses about the organization’s performance. Benchmarking offers an organization an opportunity to change and to improve.

Benchmarking will enable organizations to:

  • Compare with the best as objective evaluation of an organization’s performance and processes are documented and compared against similar processes in other organizations.
  • Learn from the best and get improvement ideas from other organizations with cutting-edge practices.
  • Get insights into systems and methods that work and those that do not.

Once desired benchmark levels are identified and the organization applies learning from benchmark organizations to adapt and improve the targeted processes, it is important to understand that, in time, benchmark levels will change and there will be a need to monitor process outcome performance to determine potential opportunities to improve as compared with organizations with better performance.

Benchmarking will tell you how well you are performing, how good you need to be (it will give a practical vision), how to get there (a road map), and therefore help you to achieve your mission, vision, and goals.  It will also allow you to have a better understanding of how future scenarios can be planned out for the organization or for the sector/industry.  Essentially, it follows a 12-step process by Xerox illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Benchmarking Process by Xerox

Among the DAP’s completed research projects which involved the benchmarking tool include: Enhancing Regulatory Management in Agriculture and Fisheries Sector:  A Benchmarking Study (2020); and, Supply Chain Analysis of Identified Agricultural Commodities: A Benchmarking Study in Six Selected Countries in Asia and Latin America (2014).