The first task for the benchmarking team involves identifying the study objectives and deciding whether processes or performance will be benchmarked. Initial benchmarking initiatives should be simple. The approach should be based on a thorough review of the problems and opportunities within the industry, based on preliminary discussions with stakeholders, including the organizations under review. For water utilities, issues that might require further analysis include productive inefficiency, poor service quality, high non-revenue water, or financial distress.
- Which problems are most urgent and most important?
- Is there enough information about each of these problems, or is additional study and research needed?
The work plan should identify items that are most critical to a successful analysis. Based on the status of the industry and the team’s strategic plan, decision-makers can make an initial choice from among the four broad types of benchmarking studies listed below:
- Engineering/Model Company
- Process Benchmarking
- Performance (metric) Benchmarking (see checklist for benchmarking)
- Customer Survey Benchmarking