As defined by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), benchmarking is “a systematic approach to business improvement where best practice is sought and implemented to improve a process beyond the benchmark performance”.

Benchmarking is more than just a method of comparing one process against another. It provides a framework for considering business processes in a more creative way, for building strategic partnerships and for learning from the parallels offered by similar business processes in different or competing workplaces.

While benchmarking can help organisations to sense check the efficiency and effectiveness of their ways of working, comparisons of benchmarking data should always take contextual issues into account including the organisation’s purpose, values, objectives and long-term business goals.

In today’s fast-changing and highly competitive business world, future-proofing how organisations operate is vital to sustain and grow economic success. This demands more than reflecting on historical data related to yesterday’s ways of working. It demands future gazing and gaining insights about tomorrow. Taking into account both past trends and future projections will help organisations to develop agility to respond to change and take advantage of emerging business opportunities.

This topic looks at the different types of benchmarking and their advantages, and contains an explanation of when to use each benchmarking approach. It also gives an example of benchmarking in an HR department.

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