Benchmarking Jargon

Benchmarking Definitions

  • Continuous process of measuring products, services, and practices against the toughest competitors or those companies recognized as industry leaders.  (David T. Kearns, CEO, Xerox Corporation)
  • Search for industry best practices that lead to superior performance.  (Benchmarking – Benchmarking: The Search for Industry Best Practices That Lead to Superior Performance ,  Robert C. Camp, 1989)
  • Process of identifying, understanding and adapting outstanding practices from organizations anywhere in the world to help your organization improve its performance.  (Benchmarking – Pure & Simple, American Productivity & Quality Centre, 1998)
  • The practice of being humble enough to admit that someone else is better at something, and wise enough to try to learn how to match and even surpass them at it. (American Productivity & Quality Centre)
  • Learning from others to improve yourself! (Pearl Advisory Group)


  • Benchmark – Performance level that is measured and recognized as “best-in-class”.  Measure of comparative performance.
  • Benchmarking – A continuous search for and application of significantly better practices that lead to superior competitive performance.
  • Best Practice – An interesting or innovative activity that contributes to superior performance regardless of industry, leadership, management or operational approaches.
  • Process – A series of inter-related activities that convert inputs into results.
  • Enabler – The process, practice or method that allows for the implementation of a best practice.

Examples of Benchmarking Types:

  • Internal – Comparing and analyzing employee satisfaction between districts
  • External – Studying and comparing performance of training process to best-in-class companies
  • Qualitative – Analyzing customer satisfaction performance
  • Quantitative – Analyzing fixed/variable costs of providing a service
  • Micro – Comparing the efficiency of complaint handling process
  • Macro – Evaluating call centre strategy

What benchmarking is/what benchmarking is not

Benchmarking is …

  • A continuous process of searching for ideas
  • A process improvement tool that could provide valuable knowledge for any process
  • A process of learning from others; and improving yourself
  • A time-consuming, labour-intensive process requiring discipline

Benchmarking is not …

  • A one time event
  • Investigation process that provides simple answers
  • Copying, imitating
  • Quick and easy