Goals and Methodology
Benchmarking has been carried out within the wastewater industry since 1996 - Why?
Excerpt from the report of the German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste (DWA) ad-hoc working group on benchmarking:
"Efficiency is becoming more and more important in the performance of water management tasks. In particular, wastewater disposal charges are no longer accepted without documentation of their composition and the costs on which they are based. At the same time, alternatives often have to be offered for solutions to problems and the advantages and disadvantages of each have to be technically and commercially evaluated. These evaluations serve not only as a basis for investment decisions but also apply to the operation of the plants. In order to be able to make such evaluations, it is first necessary to structure costs in such that they are comprehensible and manageable.
The question of whether a company or division of a company is actually exhausting its financial potential cannot be answered solely through aids such as project management or management systems. Comparisons must be made with other companies that have similar or comparable tasks or partial tasks. This means that, as a first step, the figures published in literature must be generated so far as possible for each individual company and the results compared. The second step could be the participation in a knowledge exchange in which considerations are given to possible improvements, the implementation of which is to be evaluated in each individual company. If a company wants to go beyond these or any additional steps for the continuous improvement and quantifiable measures for the improvement of efficiency which might require radical changes in a company, it can subject itself to benchmarking. This method was developed in the industry and has been successfully implemented in numerous companies. The fundamental goal is to make comparisons between various companies or divisions of companies on the basis of clearly described processes and procedures documented with measured variables in order to receive considerations for the technical and financial optimization of a company’s own processes and introduce corresponding measures.
The transfer of this procedure to water management tasks was first met with great scepticism. It was doubted whether it would be possible to create the necessary comparability with regard to the complexity of the interrelationships and the multitude of different boundary conditions. Trends have shown that this is possible. In the meantime, performance indicators and performance comparisons have been made for various areas of wastewater disposal and benchmarking projects have been successfully completed and subsequent projects are in the works."
Benchmarking: Learning from the Best
Situation assessments and the constant search for opportunities to improve are also essential in times of change within the water supply and wastewater sector.
Benchmarking offers both.
"Benchmarking is a systematic and continuous measurement process with the objective of developing measures to improve a company’s own business processes by comparing them with those of the best companies."
(International Benchmarking Clearinghouse)
Situation Assessment Tools
In the strategic process, the description of the path into the future for supply and waste disposal companies, a situation assessment is essential.
- Classical comparisons of performance indicators assess a company’s own situation: "How good am I in comparison to the best?" (best-in-class / clustering)
- Benchmarking additionally provides considerations for improvement: "What are the best companies doing that makes them so good?" (best-practice)
Benchmarking as a Basis for Comparing Processes
The benchmarking process model developed by aquabench GmbH offers companies in the industry sector a high degree of comparability. It provides a valuable starting point for the optimization of processes.
The Five Stages of Benchmarking
The methodology of aquabench GmbH is proven and based on the description of benchmarking procedures in accordance with the DWA ad hoc working group WI-00.1 on benchmarking."
Differences between Process Benchmarking and Corporate Benchmarking
Source: Rules and Standards of the German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste, Advisory Leaflet DWA-M 1100, Benchmarking in the Water Supply and Wastewater Disposal Sectors