In spite of all of the favorable suggestions for benchmarking cited, there are critics of the benchmarking proces. Wolverton (1994) states that benchmarking, as a foundation of CQI, is based only on existing details, and might not offer us the freedom and versatility to see the future. In addition, Wolverton adds that this focus may relegate us to the function of follower, rather of leader.
In discussing a related quality improvement technique, Service Process Reengineering (BPR), Hammer and Champy (1993) include that: The problem with benchmarking is it can limit the Reengineering team’s believing to the structure of what is already being carried out in its business’s own industry.
By aspiring only to be as excellent as the best in its market, the (Reengineering) group sets a cap on its own ambitions. Used this method, benchmarking is just a tool for capturing up, not for leaping method ahead (Hammer & & Champy, 1993, p.
32). This is an important point, due to the fact that numerous service writers think that benchmarking involves just taking a look at the very same institutional sector, i.
e. computer system manufacturers must only benchmark computer system manufacturers. However, we have seen that functional and generic-type benchmarking do reach throughout industries, and can undoubtedly “jump way ahead.” In addition, it needs to be born in mind that benchmarking is just one of numerous quality improvement tools that service supervisors can use in different situations.
Because reengineering involves “an essential reassessing and extreme redesign of business processes to attain significant enhancements in vital, contemporary procedures of efficiency …” (Hammer & & Champy, 1993, p. 32), benchmarking may be suitable just where the procedure can be enhanced instantly by this approach, and not require a complete redesign as supplied by reengineering. On the positive side, Hammer and Champy do state that benchmarking can assist a reengineering team by triggering originalities, specifically if companies are benchmarked from outside their own industry.
Robert Pedersen, from West Virginia University, questions the applicability of all recent quality improvement techniques, and states that benchmarking and TQM are merely strategies for marginally improving existing processes, and seek to bring results more closely in line with expectations (Pederson, 1992). He believes that the costs of such analyses frequently outweigh any possible benefits, and lack strategic vision. Another colleague in Great Britain, David Kerridge, adds that the whole concept of benchmarking is oreign to the true Deming philosophy, and states that organizations do not need to know how good they are now and how they compare with others in order to make improvements (Kerridge, 1995).
Although these comments are anecdotal in nature, they are useful for understanding the concerns one may hear, and have largely been addressed by the true definition of benchmarking as discussed earlier. At a recent conference of the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a workshop was offered on benchmarking and Management Education Teaching and Curriculum (Bateman, 1994).
The discussion focused on how benchmarking was used for improving teaching and curriculum in the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago. For purposes of discussion, the following “straw objections” to the benchmarking were offered to the workshop participants: * Euphemism for copying. * Deterrent to innovation. * Opportunity for plagiarism/industrial espionage. * Promoter of inferior tactics since not invented here. * Exposes organizational weaknesses.
Most of these concerns were addressed as well in previous lectures on the definition of benchmarking and what it has to offer, such as W. Edward Deming’s comments on the hazards of copying without adapting. Other researchers such Dr. Howard Gitlow have stated that an “example is no help in management unless studied with the aid of theory. To copy an example of success, without understanding it with the aid of theory, may lead to disaster” (Dale, 1995, p. 12). Plagiarism and industrial espionage could indeed be disastrous, but can be avoided if the benchmarking is done properly and the code of conduct is followed.
The lack of opportunity for innovation was also addressed in the previous discussion of benchmarking and its relationship to reengineering. Real innovation and breakthrough processes can be achieved, especially if an organization goes beyond just benchmarking competitors, and does industry or generic benchmarking of world-class leaders and adapts the processes back to the home industry. Benchmarking offers the ability to look externally at a very closed-minded organization or industry, which may believe that any processes not invented within are inferior.
In addition, most benchmarking minimizes exposing organizational weaknesses, because the processes being examined are often not that confidential and the benchmarking partner may be in a completely different industry. Summary Despite these concerns and criticisms, the fact is that benchmarking is currently being used successfully in many organizations. As stated earlier, it is important to remember that benchmarking is more than just obtaining comparative numbers, it is part of a learning process within an organization.
Bogan and English (1994) comment on the difference between benchmarking and benchmarks, and state that “benchmarks (italics added) are measurements to gauge the performance of a function, operation, or business relative to others” (1994, p. 4), whereas benchmarking is the “ongoing search for best practices that produce superior performance when adapted and implemented in one’s organization” (1994, p. 4). Since institutions in today’s information-based economy value hard data, using benchmarking to improve business processes is a natural extension of what drives corporations to succeed.