Topic 1 Benchmarking methods

  • Benchmarking is a business management method that seeks to find best practices inside or outside the company by comparing techniques, processes and services of other organisations in order to increase their efficiency and competitiveness.

The main idea is to take the best practices of other companies and adapt them to your field of work to improve your services. Therefore, benchmarking does not necessarily have to be done with companies in your own industry, as you can find the ideal solutions in other sectors to make your performance and productivity more efficient.

Benchmarking can be applied to any business process, approach, function or product, as its process focuses on measures of quality, time, cost, effectiveness and customer satisfaction.

Characteristics of benchmarking

*It has objective purposes

*Analyses trends

*It is oriented towards good practices

The Process of Benchmarking

Organizations that benchmark, adap the process to best fit their own needs and culture. Although number of steps in the process may vary from organization to organization, the following six steps contain the core techniques:

Prior to engaging in benchmarking, it is imperative that corporate stakeholders identify the activities that need to be benchmarked.

For instance, the processes that merit such consideration would generally be core activities that have the potential to give the business in question a competitive edge.

Such processes would generally command a high cost, volume or value. For the optimal results of benchmarking to be reaped, the inputs and outputs need to be redefined; the activities chosen should be measurable and thereby easily comparable, and thus the benchmarking metrics needs to be arrived at.

Information can be broadly classified under the sub texts of primary data and secondary data.

To clarify further, here, primary data refers to collection of data directly from the benchmarked company/companies itself, while secondary data refers to information garnered from the press, publications or websites.

Exploratory research, market research, quantitative research, informal conversations, interviews and questionnaires, are still, some of the most popular methods of collecting information.

Drafting a questionnaire or a standardized interview format, carrying out primary research via the telephone, e-mail or in face-to-face interviews, making on-site observations, and documenting such data in a systematic manner is vital, if the benchmarking process is to be a success.

Once sufficient data is collected, the proper analysis of such information is of foremost importance.

Data analysis, data presentation (preferably in graphical format, for easy reference), results projection, classifying the performance gaps in processes, and identifying the root cause that leads to the creation of such gaps (commonly referred to as enablers), need to be then carried out.

This is the stage in the benchmarking process where it becomes mandatory to walk the talk. This generally means that far-reaching changes need to be made, so that the performance gap between the ideal and the actual is narrowed and eliminated wherever possible. A formal action plan that promotes change should ideally be formulated keeping the organization’s culture in mind, so that the resistance that usually accompanies change is minimized. Ensuring that the management and staff are fully committed to the process and that sufficient resources are in place to meet facilitate the necessary improvements would be critical in making the benchmarking process, a success.

As with most projects, in order to reap the maximum benefits of the benchmarking process, a systematic evaluation should be carried out on a regular basis.

Assimilating the required information, evaluating the progress made, re-iterating the impact of the changes and making any necessary adjustments, are all part of the monitoring process.

Benchmarking activities are not yet well developed in the urban public transport sector. Some exercises exist but their number is small and they cover only some specific aspects of management and are often limited in duration.

Benchmarking studies undertaken in international cities by the Public Transport Research Group at Monash University from 2008 to 2017 has covered different issues on public transport such as  sustainability, passenger information websites, public transport for international tourists, congestion relief impacts and public transport user perceptions. Benchmarking helps to understand the relative performance of public transport systems over time. This allows for specific improvements to be more easily targeted in each city.

The conclusions of their studies can be seen in:

Other authors as Quattro project, propose to compare the public transport through a quality matrix, where  concepts such as availability, accessibility, information, time, customer care, comfort, security and environment.


To promote better quality public transport in cities, WRI Brazil is consolidating the QualiÔnibus Benchmarking Group, which aims to exchange experiences, identify good practices and implement standardised quality measures. This webinar will present the Group, the main challenges in its formation and the expected results.

The Group already has 10 participants, including metropolitan and municipal transport agencies and private operating companies. All participants will collect standard indicators and discuss the results in regular meetings to analyse good practices and share what is working in each city and can be replicated in other cities. The webinar will present how the Group is structured, the standardised quality indicators for comparison among participants and the challenges to establish this standard. It will also present the results already achieved and the benefits expected from the formation of this group.


Benchmarking undertaken in Melbourne has involved monitoring public transport service level trends over time, both at an aggregate (city-wide) and local government area level. Benchmarking Melbourne’s public transport system helps to understand changes in performance over time, allowing for specific improvements to be more easily targeted.


Benchmarking undertaken in Australian cities has involved monitoring public transport service level trends over time and comparing these to changes in population. This helps to determine whether public transport provision is keeping pace with population growth in Australian cities.