C10.10 Benchmarking


Benchmarking is a process of comparing your performance to another’s performance. This allows you to identify where you are not performing well and to plan action to improve performance in those areas.

It has been defined as “The continuous process of measuring our products, services and business practices against the toughest competitors and those recognised as industry leaders”.

It is important that the issues chosen to benchmark are appropriate to the aims of the organisation and that the comparison is completed against similar organisations. It would be pointless to compare energy usage between an office based organisation and a manufacturing processing plant. The requirements are too different and the energy use could not possibly be the same. However, two offices, or two manufacturing plants, can compare data against each other in a meaningful way.


Benefits of Benchmarking

Benchmarking allows an organisation to:

  • Assess progress towards environmental objectives.
  • Identify weak areas of performance.
  • Highlight area of good performance and motivate staff.
  • Focus action on the areas that need it most – establish effective goals & objectives.
  • Share best practise.
  • Learn from one another.
  • Become more competitive.
  • Define customer needs & requirements more effectively.
  • Develop meaningful measures of productivity.


Types of Benchmarking

  • Internal
    • to compare operations internally
  • Competitive
    • to compare to a direct competitor
  • Functional
    • to compare to similar functions within the same broad industry
  • Generic
    • to compare similar business processes or functions within any industry


How to Benchmark

The first step is to decide what you wish to benchmark. This is usually in the form of agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are discussed in a more detail in the following sections.

Then you must decide who you will benchmark against.

Benchmarking may be against a number of different organisations. For example:

  • Competitors
    • A direct comparison of your performance against your competitors.
  • Internal.
    • Comparing units of an organisation, whether they are different offices or departments.
  • The Leaders.
    • Benchmarking may be used to compare an organisation against the leading organisation in an area, whether they are in the same industry or not.


You then need to collect data on the KPIs, to allow identification of success in their achievement.

The results are then published, whether internally or externally.

The results should then lead to decision on the future goals and on the action required to improve the weak areas.

Once the actions are implemented, further data collection will allow the process to continue. Benchmarking should be a cyclical process.



  • Be open to admit weakness and share lessons learned
  • Be open to admit strengths and share successes
  • SWOT analysis – look at Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats


Stages of Benchmarking

  • Plan
    • select department/process and team
  • Analyse
    • collect data and analyse results
  • Develop
    • set new levels & agree action plans
  • Improve
    • implement improvements into business processes
  • Review
    • On-going monitoring of improvements (continuous improvement cycle)