A useful methodology to improve our performance
Benchmarking is a structured process -a series of actions, steps, functions and activities- that leads to compare services, activities, processes, products, and results in order to identify and adopt best practices to improve the performance of the university. It is above all a way to help people look outside their usual roles and units; be they services, departments, or institutions.
Five features of Columbus benchmarking club favor positive impacts on institutions:
Structured process: other institutions valid experiences usually go undocumented and are difficult to transfer because they constitute tacit knowledge. However, it often contains key understanding of complex processes. The most effective way to extract this information is a structured approach that follows our simple guidelines.
Direct Access: second-hand case studies are inevitably less effective for the transfer of tacit knowledge than first-hand case studies. Direct contact with those responsible for similar functions at other universities allows participants to discover ways to make substantive progress.
Teamwork: new technologies allow internal teams to participate without increasing costs. With an increasing number of participants, each one with unique experiences and points of view, developing and implementing effective strategies becomes easier. Often, participation in the benchmarking club is a catalyst for the formation of teams between participants at both policy and operational levels.
Interactivity: benchmarking’s four month time span allows participants to integrate observed practices throughout the process.
From Idea to Action: During the process of benchmarking, participants are encouraged to incorporate new ideas into an improvement plan. While still being perfected, this plan can be presented to institutional managers.
Benefits identified by the participating institutions:
The ability to compare with other institutions and identify their strengths and weaknesses in relation to counterparts, thus laying the base for further collaboration.
The ability to share valuable information, allowing parallel departments at different universities to improve their activities.
This method also allows the development of strong cooperation between participating universities and external actors; participants identify potential partners for joint projects. Units and departments earn to set clear, measurable, and achievable goals and actions within a limited-time, a task that seems simple, but in practice is not.
Themes developed: Academic Management, Training of Entrepreneurs, Employability of graduates, Internationalization of Human Resources, Knowledge Assessment, Continuing Training, International Students Recruitment.