Benchmarking is the process of comparing an organization’s level of performance against accepted industry-wide best practices and performance metrics. Typical benchmark measurements focus on business performance in such areas such as service or product quality, timeliness of operations, and operational costs. Based on what they find, organizations will use a benchmark to target improvements and as a comparison point for evaluating their future progress against targeted improvements.
In the case of KM, there are no generally accepted industry-wide standards for performance, and therefore benchmarking efforts often have a more internal, rather than external, focus, and tend to address such issues as the maturity of KM practices, and the level of KM competence in the organization.
In order to obtain the data needed to perform such an evaluation, organizations usually use either a survey or questionnaire, which can be customized according to their needs.
Likely areas of focus for such an approach might include:
1. KM as an element of the organization’s strategic planning.
2. KM as an element of the organization’s processes.
3. KM as an element of the organization’s HR approach.
4. KM as an element in support of the use and re-use of individual and organizational knowledge.
5. KM as an element in the growth and support of communities and work groups.
6. Technologies in support of KM work practices.
Benchmarking is an effective way to take a snapshot of organizational performance, and can be periodically repeated in order to track business performance over a number of years.
The resources required to complete a benchmark will vary depending on the scope and depth of the work involved, but each benchmark effort will accrue organizational costs in terms of time, personnel and management.