Seeking “World Class”

Benchmarking can help managers rate organisation’s performance against international best practice standards. It is tool organisations can use to assess and improve performance and drive innovation. Many best practice standards are integrated into internationally recognised awards processes – the Baldrige criteria, for example, was originally set up to inspire US companies to increase productivity and compete more efficiently with (mostly Asiatic) international competition. New Zealand best practice awards are run by the New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation. The web offers plethora of managerial insights into the pros and cons of benchmarking (mostly the pros) as well as plenty of expertise to get your thinking moving in the best practice direction. Best surfing.

www.aqc.org.au. This Australian Quality Council website is an excellent site to launch some research into best practice. It offers comprehensive range of links to variety of best practice sites including the baldrigeplus home site, information on the balanced scorecard, and access to wealth of other institutions, organisations and best practice centres. The site also offers range of products, the most useful of which is probably copy of the Australian Business Excellence Framework, tool for measuring current practices within your organisation. AQC runs the Australian Business Excellence Awards, roughly the Australian equivalent of Management magazine’s Top 200 Awards.

www.quality.nist.gov. This is the National Institute of Standards and Technology site and the first essential stop for information on the Baldrige criteria. non-commercial resource for information about the criteria, this is US government department site which gives the history of the Baldrige process and why it was established. There are number of managerial reading resources available in PDF format including the “CEO Issue sheets” – the current sheets focus on “Globalisation”, how the Baldrige process serves “Shareholders and Stakeholders”, and also how the process can be used for “Hiring and Keeping the Best Employees”.

www.baldridgeplus.com. The second essential resource site for managers interested in the Baldrige criteria and associated National Quality Awards. The site states its purpose as gathering together and summarising organisational and performance excellence material – and note that it’s all provided for free. There’s free fortnightly eZine focusing on best practice issues and there are also tonnes of practical case studies available on the site. Nine out of 10 if you are interested in the Baldrige criteria.

www.deming.eng.clemson.edu/pub/den. site for discussion, learning and research on the philosophy of W Edwards Deming, the esteemed managerial consultant and founder of the prestigious Deming Prize. This site has access to range of papers and other articles from and about Deming including look at his 14 points for management in industry, education and government and an overview of his ‘system of profound knowledge’. relatively user friendly and totally non-commercial site – no annoying flashing ads – you’ll find all the information you need to get up to speed on Deming’s inspiring management theories and statistical ideas here, in more useful and comprehensive format than the Deming Institute’s own site (compare for yourself: www.deming.org).

www.iso.ch/iso/en/ISOOnline.frontpage. The home page for the internationally recognised industry standardisation certifications ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. The ISO managerial systems have purportedly been implemented by more than 430,000 organisations in 158 countries, and are well known throughout industry in New Zealand. This site contains information predominantly about these two standards as well as feature articles making the case for the importance of standardising processes. As one website commented, “You can’t hope to meet the expectations of the Baldrige criteria if you aren’t already implementing the ISO standards in your company.”

www/library.unisa.edu.au/internet/pathfind/bestprac.htm. This is the University of South Australia Library site and it contains many links to best practice websites and other managerial resources. Pan down to “Useful Starters” on the home page to find list of resources specific to benchmarking.

www.worldbestquality.com. Another good starting point for foray into the best practice websites on the web. An extensive range of links and resources about best practice; the home page is essentially link page.

www.benchmarkingplus.com.au. This site bills itself as “the most comprehensive Australian site devoted to benchmarking”. no-frills site with access to resources on benchmarking services for government, technology innovation, corporate services, as well as infrastructure maintenance. The site offers reports and Powerpoint presentations from research being undertaken on benchmarking from various industry sectors.

And, of course, the New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation website can be found at hyperlink http://www.nzbef.org.nz and that’s good place to get started in pursuit of world-class performance.

Damon Birchfield is an Auckland-based freelance writer. Email:[email protected]

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