Regional benchmarking

In preparing for meeting National Competition Policy requirements, Queensland's City of Logan recognised that data which had helped improve efficiency in its roads and drainage operations was limited by its internal nature.

To achieve a broader evaluation of its efficiency, comparison with other operators was necessary. To this end in 1996 Logan approached six other Councils to join a benchmarking group exercise.

The group, comprising Logan, Brisbane, Toowoomba and Ipswich City Councils and the Shires of Caboolture, Redland and Pine Rivers, dubbed themselves the B7. They determined what activities were to be benchmarked and agreed on definitions of those activities to ensure valid comparisons could be made.

Microsoft Access, already being used by Logan, was developed to standardise the database for the analysis of collected data. An additional data entry facility allows for manipulation of raw data to produce meaningful graphs for comparison, and access to view data specific to individual Councils or groups of Councils.

This can be applied to a specified time period or in relation to particular cost such as contract or labour costs.

"Feedback from the exercise has proven worthwhile even for Councils identified as having best practice operations," said Daryl Reilly, Logan's Works Engineer. "When best practice is identified the ensuing discussion often leads to further improvements of that operation."

The project emphasises that costs are not the sole criterion for benchmarking best practice. Target construction standards, processes, work practices, organisational structures and indirect costs must also be included.

Daryl Reilly said to date the exercise has returned invaluable information to member Councils and assisted with the full costing of works ensuring market readiness.

"Our success can be readily utilised by other Councils wanting to embark on the same process," he said.

For further information contact Daryl Reilly, telephone (07) 3826 5525.