Beyond the Bench

The aims of the club are to let members share in benchmarking and best practices, align their development with the concepts of business excellence and help link research into organisations.
The outcome is then to improve the performance of those involved.
It’s intended that each member organisation will ultimately score over 600 points in an assessment against the Criteria for Performance Excellence (known as the Malcolm Baldrige Award Model framework). Valuable ideas will be then be disseminated to companies around the country to encourage improved business practices.
The Benchmarking Club is one of number of industry-based initiatives in the benchmarking and business excellence area coming out of Massey University’s Institute of Technology and Engineering.
Other works in progress include:
? Benchmarking and performance improvement website: An innovative website to help organisations select measures for improvement and provide benchmarking data.
? Organisational Excellence Survey of NZ: self-assessment questionnaire to assess the business health of New Zealand organisations against the Criteria for Performance Excellence.
? Research into organisational excellence and best practices: Led by Lionel Loo, senior lecturer at Massey, this research will yield the annual publication of four Best Practice guides researched and written by teams of fourth year students. Some initial findings are:
? Best practices in recruitment – “Hiring unsuitable people can cost up to eight times their annual salary”, “25 percent of New Zealand businesses posted job vacancies on the Internet in 1999”.
? Best practices in rewarding performance – “50-60 percent of New Zealand firms have an incentive programme”, “Pay must be linked to objectives,” “Reward schemes must suite recipients”.
? Best practices in customer service – “Listen to what they are saying, but hear what they are not saying”, “Have person responsible for managing customer care”, “Produce saying, motto or document that shows commitment to the customer”.

The way forward
The club is appealing for sponsors so that further industry-based research in the area of business excellence and performance improvement can be undertaken for the benefit of all New Zealand organisations.
“There has never been greater time of need in New Zealand for dynamic and innovative moves in these areas,” says Robin Mann, director of the Benchmarking Club. “Massey is rapidly becoming the foremost research institute for this kind of initiative with its strong links to the NZBED who in turn has strong links with both the NZIM and the NZ Organisation for Quality. Massey is well equipped for the necessary study but needs sponsorship to push new ideas into action.
“The benefits of the club can be far-reaching with its findings on best practice disseminated throughout the business community. Initiatives like this involving research require support and with the lack of government funding in this area, sponsorship is the way forward.
“In the past New Zealand has been left behind in terms of basic research into organisational excellence and best practice. I believe this has had detrimental effect on the uptake of business improvement models, such as the Criteria for Performance Excellence. Now at last New Zealand business is taking the lead.
“The NZ Benchmarking Club is modelled on similar initiative launched in recent years in the Food and Drinks Industry in the UK. This has contributed to the UK’s very strong position in the world’s markets and there’s every reason to hope for similarly significant impact to be made here by our own club. If the overwhelming interest is matched by similar degree of support from NZ organisations then the sky really is the limit.”
The 16 member organisations are: Amcor Flexibles Australasia, Canterbury Health Laboratories, Coca-Cola Amatil NZ, Crop and Food Research, Fletcher Wood Panels, Hamilton City Council, Inter-weave Ltd, Lactose NZ, Montana Wines, NZ Dairy Board, NZ Sugar Company, Philips Consumer Electronics, Pilkington – automotive, R & D Solutionz, Royal & SunAlliance, and Vector Ltd.
By Stephen Welch and Robin Mann.

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