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Best Practice Review (A SPRINT Phase II task)

Task Description

A "best practice" review (sometimes called "benchmarking") focuses on a comparable process in an appropriate external organisation. This may be in the same sector (for instance, another local authority) or elsewhere (e.g. a bank, the NHS).

A Best Practice Review aims to:

  • examine the business processes of the comparable organisation, looking for innovative organisational structures or use of IT
  • evaluate how well these processes are performed and how performance is measured
  • examine how the processes are supported, especially in respect of information Systems and Technology
  • consider any "bad experiences" and the lessons to be learned, e.g. in relation to change management.

There are four main types of benchmarking which have been identified in Public Services.

  1. Internal Comparison of internal processes with the organisation with the aim of spreading good practice
  2. Competitive Comparison of Performance and Processes with that of Competitors
  3. Functional Comparison of Functions and Operations with other Organisations, perhaps in different sectors
  4. Generic Comparison of overall performance of functions within different services or industries

This task can offer the BPR project team a start in considering alternative solutions based on practice elsewhere, and can help validate the BPR work to users by bringing in examples of good working practice elsewhere.

Task Implementation

A "best practice review" or benchmarking will be dependent on timeliness and access. Although some parts of the review can be done via desk research (e.g. using the internet, books and journals), the more useful work requires getting access to other departments/organisations. This may be difficult, and time consuming. Therefore it should be a process that is used implicitly throughout the BPR project and should be done when and where appropriate. (For example, comparison of a particular software solution may be done much later in a project, as part of a tendering process.)

It is therefore useful to plan the "best practice" review as early in the BPR project as is feasible, and adapt it accordingly. A simple plan of work might look like this:

  1. Collect existing benchmarking data from within your organisation
  2. Identify benchmarking partner(s)
  3. Agree Study Terms
  4. Carry Out Study
  5. Analyse Findings
  6. Feed into Broader BPR Work

The different kinds of benchmarking require different ways of working. What follows is not exhaustive, and the various approaches can be adapted according to the dictates of the project.

Internal - identify similar processes throughout the organisation; speak to the users in those areas; look at supporting materials; analyse similarities and differences - constraints and limitations

Competitive - identify appropriate benchmarking partners (regional - e.g. other local councils; comparable - e.g. other metropolitan councils; exemplar - e.g. other pathfinder councils; Beacon councils); agree study terms -: perhaps a literature search/website comparison/other desk research - utilise existing networks (e.g. regional forums); arrange visits/interviews where possible and appropriate.

Functional - identify similar processes in other organisations (for instance a call centre model may be taken from the private sector); read the trade press; use existing literature; arrange visits/interviews where appropriate

Generic - identify information sources; agree terms of reference (i.e. what data is relevant? By industry? By location?); determine comparison critieria (i.e. is the idea to benchmark against INDUSTRY-WIDE / REGION-WIDE or against macroeconomic/international comparitors or against temporal indicators - last year/five years etc.)


The outcomes of a Best Practice review will feed into the Phase I report, as 'evidence' and help in developing the radical redesign of Phase II.

Related Change Management TopicSee business case

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