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BenchmarkingINTRODUCTIONThe term benchmark was originally used in surveying to denote a mark on a survey peg or stone acts as a permanent reference point against which the level of various topographic features can be measured. It has also acquired a more general meaning as a reference or criterion against which something can be measured. The first use of the term in an educational sense is accorded to R.K. Melton (1997) standards represent benchmarks with which students compare their ability and performance . Xerox first applied the term benchmarking to a process of organizational self-evaluation and self-improvement. Faced with a rapidly declining market share in the early 1980, the company pioneered the method of comparing and evaluating its business process, products, and performance against competitors. The organizational learning acquired through this process led to dramatic reduction in costs and an improved share of the market. The methodology was transferred and adapted to all levels of education in North America in the early 1990, followed rapidly by Australia and more recently the UK and, to a lesser extent, continental Europe. (Schofield 1998) Although universities are essentially not for profit, public service organizations they must generate sufficient income to support and reinvest in the educational enterprise. Universities are in no doubt that; they operate in a series of competition local, regional, national, and global. In the commercial world, benchmarking is used to identify new, innovative, and more effective ways of doing things to gain and maintain competitive advantage. In the world of higher education, gaining competitive advantages are an important motivating factor, but institutional reputation, based on such matters as standing, the public perception of the currency of awards and the employability of graduates are also important. In both the national and international market there, are clearly competitive advantages in establishing and maintaining a reputation for high quality education and research. Benchmarking is being used as a way of reinforcing peer groups and helping to maintain and enhance institutional reputation.Objectives of the Study: To know about the term Benchmarking To investigate the types and importance of Benchmarking in Higher Education To know the scope of Benchmarking Objectives of Benchmarking: To identify the departmental approaches of management of quality and standards met or exceeded the expectations. To know the ways in which a department s approaches of managing of quality and standards may changed. To identify the new ways and measures in order to enhance or better the situation To give better plan of action and suggest ways and means for the modifications and improvement of the prevailing situation.
There are many definitions of benchmarking. Robert camp who benchmarking at Xerox, defined it as finding and implementing best practice with the reason for doing it, ( to improve work processes that will satisfy customers , Loveday 1993:43) price (1994:5) also defined this process the aim of emulating or improving best available practice . Both definitions indicate that benchmarking is fundamentally an approach to selfevaluation through comparative analysis for the purpose of self-improvement. The two fundamental purposes of any method of self-evaluation in higher education are: -to facilitate improvement development change and -to satisfied expectation and requirements for professional accountability (Kells 1992 and 1995; Jackson 1997) Jackson 1998a proposed a broader definition for benchmarking in UK, which accommodates nations of accountability as well as development, e.g. a process to facilitate the systematic comparison and evaluation of practice, process and performance to aid improvement and regulation. Why Are We Benchmarking? Although universities are essentially not for profit, public service organizations they must generate sufficient income to support and reinvest in the educational enterprise. Universities are in no doubt that; they operate in a series of competition markets-local regional, national, and global. In the commercial world, benchmarking is used to identify new, innovative, and more effective ways of doing things to gain and maintain competitive advantage. In the world of higher education, gaining competitive advantages is an important motivating factor but institutional reputation, based on such matters as research standing, the public perception of the currency of awards and the employability of graduates is important. In both the national and international market place there, are clearly competitive advantages in establishing and maintaining a reputation for high quality education and research. Benchmarking is being used as a way of reinforcing peer groups and helping to maintain and enhance institutional reputation. Public confidence in the academic standards of an institution is dependent on robust mechanisms for self-regulation and external quality assurance. As higher education, markets become more sophisticated there is a need to provide information that will enable degree outcomes to be compared and differentiated. The rapid expansion of higher education in the UK and increased diversity in all aspects of delivery, the assessment of learning and outcomes have increased public demand for explicit information that will enable degree outcomes to be differentiated. Benchmarking is being developed to improve the capacity of higher education to demonstrate more transparent levels of comparability and difference between awards in different institution and subjects. The educational enterprise is support by a range of administrative and managerial functions, technical and other support services e.g. registry, libraries, IT infrastructure
financial services personnel, estates, catering, student services, etc. creative and cost effective management of these functions is vital if universities are to continue to deliver excellence in the face of declining per capita state funding and rapid change. Benchmarking provides a vehicle for sharing practice within functional communicates, identifying smarter ways of doing things and new solutions to common problems and identifying ways of reducing costs while optimizing the quality of service offered to students and other clients. Types of Benchmarking: Benchmarking activities can be classified according to the nature of the referencing process that under pins the activity (Jackson 1998b) and /or whether the process is: Implicit or explicit benchmarking: Schofield (1998) classified benchmarking activities according to whether the activity is implicit (information gathered by a national agency), or explicit (a process that facilitate comparison and identify directions for change (improvement). Independent or collaborative benchmarking: A single institution or administrative unit within an institution may wish to compare its own practice and performance, known as Independent benchmarking. Collaborative benchmarking involves the active participation of two or more organizations or units in a formal structured process. Internally or Externally Focused Benchmarking: Internal benchmarking is a process used in decentralized organization where performance in similar processes is compared between operating units. In universities, this can mean comparison between different academic departments or different administrative units. External benchmarking is a process used in different organizations where performances in different operating units are compared. This can mean comparison between different universities and their departments. Three Types of External Benchmarking a. Competitive benchmarking: Focuses on measuring performance against competitor organization. In universities, this might take the form of comparing the staff and student recruitment strategies with the institutions main competitors. b. Functional benchmarking: This is a process used to compare own practice with other organizations fulfilling similar functions. This could mean, for example, a university comparing its admissions or procurement procedures with others universities.
c. Generic benchmarking (also known as best in class): Compares the process of an organization to organizations that operate in a different context but are recognized as truly innovative and leaders in their field. The criterion for benchmarking is who performs this activity best. For example, a university might compare its facilities management processes with those of an Airline, manufacturing company, or Hospital. The difference between functional and generic benchmarking is that the latter seeks to identify and understand why the best of the best is the best. Input Process Output Focus: Benchmarking can be focused on the process (inputs) and from the process (outputs). The term s output is used for comparison of specific activities between organization, and process benchmarking a comparison of the capabilities and system used by the organizations to achieve their results.
Scope of Benchmarking: A.Vertical and b. Horizontal process: Benchmarking can be focused on a single business or academic process (process is used to embrace the totality of practice, behavior, value and systems, procedure, performance/outcomes and products). Alstete (1995) classified benchmarking processes into vertical and horizontal components. Vertical benchmarking aims to quantify or qualitatively understands work process in a discrete functional area. For example in a university this might be an evaluation of the teaching, learning and assessment practices within a department, or the way a registrar discharges its administrative functions. In contrast, horizontal benchmarking examines work process that crosscut the functional areas and organizational units. In a university this might take the form of a study that examines the way different departments e