NAPM InfoEdge
September 1997, Vol. 3 No. 1

The Fundamentals of Benchmarking

Table of Contents
  • Basic Preparation Members Only Content
    Increasingly, organizations are driven by global competition, and therefore seek to improve quality, discover breakthroughs, increase productivity, and effect other continuous improvements. Benchmarking can be used to achieve these ends, and more (see box on page 2).

  • Developing a Questionnaire Members Only Content
    The information desired from benchmarking partners is gathered through a questionnaire. This is the next step in the benchmarking process (for a complete summary of all steps, see page 14). Once the questionnaire has been developed, appropriate partner organizations can be targeted (this process is described, beginning on page 9).

  • Selecting and Working with Benchmarking Partners Members Only Content
    Obtaining meaningful results from benchmarking correlates to the selection of the most appropriate benchmarking partners. Benchmarking is the evaluation of best in class, a fact which always should be uppermost in thought. It's also crucial to communicate to potential partners that benchmarking benefits both parties — the giver and receiver of the information.

  • Compiling and Using the Data Members Only Content
    A trip report should be written immediately following each visit. Time lines are important when remembering and reporting exactly what was communicated. A debriefing session among those in attendance allows data capture regarding the questionnaire and other pertinent information gathered. Since at least one of the attendees will have been consistent from visit to visit, this person should pull together common information from all the visits, as well as differentiate best practices from organization to organization. When all of the visits are completed, the data can be correlated and put to use.


Lewis (Bill) Poole, CPIM
Bill Poole has been with the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York, since 1967. His most recent assignments include materials manager for black and white film and paper, process excellence manager for development of improved purchasing and planning techniques, MRP II implementation manager, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) design and implementation manager for manufacturing planning and procurement modules, in addition to benchmarking initiatives. Mr. Poole is a member of the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS), the American Society for Quality Control (ASQC), and NAPM, and teaches various courses for APICS and NAPM in supply chain management. He is a frequent speaker and presenter at APICS and NAPM chapter, regional, and national meetings and events, including the national conferences. Mr. Poole presented How to Initiate an Effective Benchmarking Program for Purchasing at the 82nd Annual International Purchasing Conference in Washington, D.C. He holds a B.A. in mathematics and economics from Otterbein College, an M.S. in economics from Kent State University, and has done post graduate work at the Kellogg Business School of Northwestern University.

  • APICS Dictionary, Eighth edition, American Production and Inventory Control Society, 1995
  • Camp, Robert C. Benchmarking: The Search for Industry Best Practices That Lead to Superior Performance, ASQC Quality Press, 1989
  • NAPM Insights, April 1993, "Benchmarking Warehouse Performance"
  • NAPM Insights, November 1992, "Comparing for Improvement"
  • NAPM Insights, September 1992, "Prices: A Look at Lengths and Practices"
  • NAPM Insights, March 1992, "A 'How-To' Guide to Using Benchmarking"
  • NAPM Insights, July 1991, "Taking Benchmarking a Step Further"

  • Camp, Robert C. Business Process Benchmarking: Finding and Implementing Best Practices, ASQC Quality Press, 1994
  • Financial World, September 29, 1992, "Strategic Benchmarking"
  • Fortune, October 19, 1992, "How to Steal the Best Ideas Around"
  • Journal of Business Strategy, May-June 1992, "How to Implement Competitive-Cost Benchmarking"
  • Liebfried, Kathleen and McNair, C. J. Benchmarking: A Tool for Continuous Improvement, Harper Business, 1992
  • Miller, Jeffrey G., DeMeyer, Arnoud, and Nakane, Jinichiro, Benchmarking Global Manufacturing: Understanding International Suppliers, Customers, & Competitors, Irwin Professional Publishing, 1992
  • Quality, March 1992, "Guide to Benchmarking Resources"
  • Spendolini, Michael J. The Benchmarking Book, AMACOM, 1993
  • The Center For Advanced Purchasing Studies (CAPS)
    P.O. Box 22160
    Tempe, AZ 85285-2160
    602/752-2277 Fax: 602/491-7885
    For a current list of CAPS benchmarking reports or CAPS focus studies, call Fax on Demand at 800/444-6276, and request Document #0272.
    To order a report (gratis to major corporate contributors, and NAPM members who provide their ID numbers) fax or mail a request. Otherwise, CAPS suggests a $20 contribution per copy, per report.
    "PRAXIS", Best Practices in Purchasing and Supply Chain Management publishes quarterly. The innaugural issue is September, 1997. There is no charge until Sepetember 1998, at which time the cost will be $20 per issue. The number of practices profiled per issue is 3-4. Distribution is per issue or subscription basis; electronically and hardcopy. Contact CAPS to subscribe or for further information.

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