Benchmarking: Striving for Internal and External Excellence
October 31, 2005
How does your city stack up against other municipalities and the private sector? William Schoen and Sam Chandler of R3 Consulting challenged Fall Summit attendees to “ validate, diagnose and improve” crating benchmarks for their departments. Elmer Heap, Environmental Services Director for San Diego shared his city’s experiences, as San Diego has a system of internal measurements for reauthorization of their ISO 1401 status and through the use of the city’s GIS system, but is looking to see how they compare to other cities.
‘Benchmarking is a process of comparison and can lead to real and significant improvements. It is an organized effort to gather information,” Schoen said. The ongoing process of benchmarking begins with an internal investigation. A city’s benchmarking program may include any or all of the following steps: defining operational characteristics; identifying operational and financial benchmarks; documenting current baselines; documenting historical trends for benchmarks; ongoing tracking of performance vs. baselines; comparing performance to industry standards; targeting / prioritizing areas for improvement; identifying best management practices (BMPs); incorporating BMPs into operations; and Reviewing / Refining / Repeating.
After identifying trends, cities should be able to develop some management best practices. Chandler explored benchmarking safety, paraphrasing W. Edward Deming, “A community can not buy its way to safety.” Chandler said, “The key elements of enduring benchmarked safety system are leadership, commitment, resources, patience and vision.” Measurable positive outcomes from a safety benchmarking exercise include elimination of wasted time and motion, workflow optimization, standardization of work flow, continuously improving customer service, and improved bottom line. Safety benchmarking can begin with an analysis of accident records, by type, location and resolution time, among others, management systems, like safety standards, incentives and administrative controls and administrative records.
Chandler concluded his presentation by addressing some long term keys for success, including asset analysis, safety work plans, staff knowledge, opportunities, motivation and rewards for success. “Buy in is key,” concluded Heap. “So start with benchmarks that effect your workforce, like safety and customer service and seek benchmarks that will serve as a training tool.” Participants left the session understanding R3’s mantra, “That which is not measured, is not managed.”
For more information on MWMA’s benchmarking project, contact Susan Jarvis at 202-861-6760 or send e-mail to email@example.com.