Benchmarking is a useful way of comparing where an agency is at in relation to other similar agencies, using the assessment tools described above or some other comparative approach.
Benchmarking in Australia includes, for example, procurement and road project construction costs (Transport and Infrastructure Council 2014). The study found that:
- road class is the most significant factor influencing average project costs – average costs of urban and rural freeways/highways are around $6.0 to $6.5 million per lane-kilometre, while lower standard rural arterials average around $3.0 million per lane-kilometre
- project management costs typically comprise around 7% of total costs while design and investigation costs typically comprise around 5-6%
- the project sample provides no clear evidence of any time trend in average project costs over the previous five years.
In the water sector, the Water Services Association of Australia conducts a regular comprehensive benchmarking exercise of agencies within Australia and New Zealand as well as globally. An example of benchmarking practised in the Water Sector is provided in Case Study 5.
Every four years since 2004, the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) has conducted its international asset management benchmarking project. In 2015, the project underwent a name change to Asset Management Customer Value (AMCV), to better reflect the increased customer focus of the industry and to better integrate with ISO 55001:2014.
In the 2016 round, 44 participants from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, the UK and Japan completed the assessment, which comprised 506 defined measures of asset management practices covering development; documentation; coverage and frequency of application; and effectiveness over seven areas of asset management (depicted below).
Before commencement of the benchmarking assessment, participants were required to complete a survey which determined the drivers of their business, how important these drivers were to current and future practices, and their preparedness to respond. The consistency of the benchmarking process was maintained through verification of those participants that self-assessed and facilitated assessment for others.
After completion of the survey, participants were provided with an individually tailored report, which benchmarked their assessment with their peers (both the whole cohort as depicted, and a variety of peer groups based on size, sector and region) and provided suggestions for improvement of their asset management practices. In addition, an industry report was prepared based on the data of all participants which gave insights into the outcomes of the project, investigated the differences between various peer groups, demonstrated industry trends and provided a blueprint for future improvement initiatives.
For participants, the benefit of completing the AMCV was not only in the reports provided and the benchmarking process, but also participating in the Leading Practices Conference. These conferences, held in Melbourne and Los Angeles, allowed participants to come together and share their leading asset management practices. The conferences allowed participants to meet face-to-face and discuss issues facing the industry and novel ways to mitigate these issues. A compendium of this conference was published as a reference for all participants to continue their journey in asset management maturity. For further information on the project refer to www.wsaa.asn.au/about-us/asset-management-customer-value-project-amcv.