The benchmarking process

Each CIPFA Corporate Services Benchmarking club operates along the following lines:

  • A steering committee, formed of experienced volunteer members from the relevant service area, determines the scope of the exercise and agrees the questionnaire content.
  • The questionnaire is then circulated with detailed definitions and guidance on its completion. A telephone helpline is also available from CIPFA Benchmarking.
  • Returned data is subject to extensive analysis and validation, and a draft report is issued. This often reveals minor inconsistencies, so data revisions are accepted at this stage before final reports are produced.

The outputs

Two types of final report are issued: one of which compares all club members (or by organisation type where relevant) and another which compares members with named comparators of their choice. Each club has textual process type questions, the answers to which are fed back to club members in the form of a scrapbook.

Members who supply data are provided with a database of all the raw data for the club. Also supplied is an interactive report for carrying out further analysis, for example with different groups of comparators.

Finally, members can attend one of a series of review meetings. These meetings are designed to enable a small group of members to review the benchmarking exercise and discuss matters of mutual concern. The meetings mark the beginning of the transition from the benchmarking of costs and activity levels to the benchmarking of processes, systems, organisation structures, quality and value for money. These meetings are currently held in central London and Leeds.

The benchmarking cycle

 Chart illustrating the CIPFA benchmarking cycle