05 September 2002 | Liam O'Brien
Benchmarking does not automatically bring the expected benefits and should be treated with caution, CIPS warns in a new document.
Its benchmarking paper states that despite the advantages claimed for benchmarking, some senior practitioners "point to its limitations both as a concept and a process".
Roy Ayliffe, director of professional practice at CIPS, said: "Benchmarking is a process that can be quite expensive and will not necessarily deliver the benefits that you want it to. It is not something that, as a company, you should go off and do for the sake of it."
Benchmarking is meant to help identify opportunities for value-add and savings and to ensure purchasers are kept up-to-date with modern techniques.
The document says that benchmarking projects can be time and resource-consuming with completion taking one person working full-time, nine-to-five, for six months.
Practitioners should carefully consider the costs involved in such a process.
The document also says few benchmarking studies successfully establish what constitutes "world class".
While some purchasers thought benchmarking entailed "catching up with the competition", it is unnecessary if correct purchasing procedures are in place, the document noted.
Despite its caution, the institute concludes that great benefits can be won from the process if the barriers to benchmarking are overcome.