Benchmarking is the comparison of planned or actual processes, practices, and operations to other comparable organizations. It is often done to identify best practices that can be implemented within the organization to generate improvement of their project management venture.
The dimensions that are measured during benchmarking usually involve time, cost and quality. Benchmarking can be done both internally and externally. During the process of benchmarking, those in project management identify firms or departments that have similar processes.
There is no single benchmarking process that has been adopted and must be followed by everyone. In fact, there are different benchmarking methods developed over time but it is important to understand the 12 elements of benchmarking which include the selection of subject, identification of processes, potential partners, data sources, collection of data, gap determination, process differences, target performance, communication, goal adjustments, implementation and review of the adopted process.
This project management term is applicable to all types of business processes and different techniques are necessary for the different processes in question. Available techniques for benchmarking involve surveys, quantitative research, marketing research, process mapping, financial analysis and review cycles. All of these are necessary to determine novel practices that can be adapted to the organization.
This term is defined in the 5th edition of the PMBOK.