For a business to understand which parts of their operation might be underperforming or overperforming they ideally need a mechanism to compare themselves to others. If businesses operating in similar circumstances are able to capture pertinent data in a systematic and logical way, they can establish benchmarks relevant to their business activities. By comparing themselves businesses can see who performs better, why that organisation’s performance is better, and potentially determine what actions need to be taken in order to improve their own performance.
Benchmarking has the advantage of focusing improvement efforts on issues that are critical to a business’ success. It helps ensure that improvement targets are based on what has been achieved in the real world by similar organisations. This encourages a ‘can do’ culture, ‘if another organisation has achieved this result then so can we’. If your organisation’s performance compares favourably with a benchmark this can instil confidence, confirm that you’ve successfully adopted best practice. Benchmarking can also provide assurance that the best value is being realised, which might be particularly important for public sector organisations.
In the construction sector organisations have used benchmarking for several years, albeit perhaps occasionally rather than consistently. With influence from Government and the participation of industry bodies the sector has refined these benchmarks and published sets of national Key Performance Indicators (KPI). A KPI is the measure of performance of an activity that is critical to the success of an organisation. This has generated interest and enabled companies to measure their performance simply and to set targets based on national performance data.
The involvement of Government and industry bodies has helped establish a consensus and understanding of what needs to be improved, and the reasons why. To benefit from this initiative organisations must align their objectives to the available benchmarking in order to be successful.
An organisation must select carefully who to benchmark against and understand the reasons for any differences in performance. When considering goals an organisation should set targets that are achievable with effort, with perhaps a more challenging stretch target. The application of benchmarks and the findings that result may require an organisation to willingly accept change and adapt their behaviours and processes.
Constructing Excellence publishes construction industry KPIs using performance data collected from across the UK construction sector. These construction industry KPIs have been used and relied upon for 20 years. They are recognised and supported by government, e.g. the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and industry.
Working together, Constructing Excellence and BRE SmartSite have produced an online performance measurement and productivity software tool: SmartSite KPIs. It has been developed in collaboration with and under the strategic direction of Constructing Excellence’s cross-industry membership.
The software enables an organisation to input their project benchmark performance data and compare this against the rest of the construction industry using the established and nationally recognised Constructing Excellence construction KPIs. SmartSite KPIs is a modern digital tool using recognised methodology for benchmarking the performance of your projects and organisation. It provides users with evidence of performance when compared to the rest of the industry. The software enables systematic operational improvement by measuring business critical success factors.