BENCHMARKING HUMAN RESOURCE SYSTEMS-ARE WE READY FOR IT?
The 1996 Directors' Workshop at Jodhpur ushered into SAIL, the hottest new buzzword in management, BENCHMARKING. An adequate working definition of this term has been provided in the documented outcomes of the conclave.
"Simply put, benchmarking is the search for the industries best practices that guide and lead to superior performance level".
Best practices are generally understood to be the methods used in work processes that produce outputs which best meet customer requirements in a particular 'marketplace'. The conversion of best practices into measurements of best performance result in benchmarks i.e. ...view middle of the document...
A schematic of the key benchmarking process steps as per this framework is placed at Annex-I. Any other approach to benchmarking will necessarily adopt similar steps, the only variation likely being the degree of detail in which these steps may be broken down to as guidelines for action.
To meet the objective of this paper, i.e. gauging our preparedness and readiness to utilize benchmarking as a performance improvement tool, it would be sufficient to work through the first three key process steps i.e. the Planning Phase, of this particular framework of implementing a benchmarking exercise. After all, actually implementing benchmarking in our context would only be feasible if we are able to cope with the planning requirements.
STEP-1 - IDENTIFYING WHAT IS TO BE BENCHMARKED:
In determining the subject to be benchmarked the focus will necessarily be on performance improvement in areas related to:
- products or Services we produce
- work processes or business practices we use
- factors which are critical to the success of our operations.
After arriving at a listing of possible subjects, the choice would generally be determined by how critical the particular subject is to achieving customer satisfaction or how significant is the problem to be solved. Another key aspect of choosing a subject for benchmarking is also the determination of the measurements that should be used. It is important to select measurements that are true indicators of performance in the subject area chosen.
In the Human Resources realm, our 'marketplace' comprises primarily of internal customers. We have very few tangible products in the conventional sense of the term. Our products are largely the outputs of systems and work processes we adopt and employ to discharge the requirements of a clearly spelt out HR policy framework. Hence, our targets for performance improvement would have to be these systems and work processes with the objective of continuously tailoring their outputs to meet the expectations of our customers.
Given that the focus is ultimately on customer satisfaction, an appropriate start point in listing of the possible subjects to be benchmarked would be to examine the deliverables expected by our customers.
Some of the more critical areas of customer expectations and the deliverables expected by them as enumerated in the ICS interactions are listed below. Alongside these expectations, the boundaries within which the function is currently expected to operate in these areas are also listed.
Manpower "Putting the right man, with the right skill and attitude, on the right job, at the right place at the right time". The expectations on manpower have to be achieved within the overall Corporate HR budget guidelines of manpower rationalization as also conformance to a rigid legislative framework that gives precedence to protecting workers' interest even at the cost of overall business or industry interests.