Criticisms of Benchmarking
Despite all of the positive recommendations for benchmarking cited, there are critics of the benchmarking proces. Wolverton (1994) states that benchmarking, as a cornerstone of CQI, is based only on current information, and may not give us the freedom and flexibility to see the future. In addition, Wolverton adds that this focus may relegate us to the role of follower, instead of leader. In writing about a related quality improvement technique, Business Process Reengineering (BPR), Hammer and Champy (1993) add that: The problem with benchmarking is it can restrict the Reengineering team’s thinking to the framework of what is already being done in its company’s own industry. By aspiring only to be as good as the best in its industry, the (Reengineering) team sets a cap on its own ambitions. Used this way, benchmarking is just a tool for catching up, not for jumping way ahead (Hammer & Champy, 1993, p. 132). This is an important point, because many business writers believe that benchmarking involves only examining the same institutional sector, i.e. computer manufacturers should only benchmark computer manufacturers. However, we have seen that functional and generic-type benchmarking do reach across industries, and can indeed "jump way ahead." In addition, it must be remembered that benchmarking is only one of many quality improvement tools that business managers can use in different situations. Since reengineering involves "a fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical, contemporary measures of performance . . ." (Hammer & Champy, 1993, p. 32), benchmarking may be appropriate only where the process can be improved immediately by this method, and not need a complete redesign as provided by reengineering. On the positive side, Hammer and Champy do state that benchmarking can help a reengineering team by sparking new ideas, especially if companies are benchmarked...
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