Benchmarking (peer analysis, peer development)  

Benchmarking refers to an evaluation in which an organisation (or parts of it) compares its activities and processes against those of another organisation. Benchmarking is usually carried out against an organisation that is somehow superior. The benchmarking partner can be selected from among organisations operating in the same field, or from any sector.

Benchmarking is a method for learning from role model organisations about their best practices, and the objective is to improve the organisation’s own activities. Benchmarking helps in identifying weaknesses in own activities and in setting goals that aim at improving these weaknesses, as well as in coming up with ideas for development.

Benchmarking often involves a visit to the organisation against which own activities are compared. However, there are also other ways to carry out benchmarking, for example by looking for information relating to best practices in different kinds of publications such as articles, books or the internet. Best practices can be sought, for example, by comparing the indicators of different organisations, allowing the organisation to find organisations it wants to learn more about. Benchmarking activities can also be carried out in collaboration between benchmarking organisations in networks that regularly compare their activities and exchange ideas about development targets and methods.

Benchmarking can also be carried out within an organisation. Different sections or units of the organisation can compare their activities and processes, learning from each other’s best practices with the objective of further disseminating the observed best practices within the organisation.