Last edited 24 Sep 2019

Benchmark

A benchmark is a pre-determined standard or point of reference against which other things, people, costs, time or activities can be measured. It is regarded as an achievable standard which a failure to achieve could deem the work in question to be unsatisfactory.

In any industry, a benchmark can constitute a method of instigating best practice and is usually designed to lead to higher standards.

NB On a construction site, a physical benchmark can be represented by a mark, whether on a concrete post set into the ground or some other permanent marker indicating a site datum to which all vertical levels and elevations will relate to. It is the point of reference that surveyors use for levelling and on which drawings by architects, engineers, contractors and subcontractors are based. The Ordnance Bench Mark is an officially established mark that links back to the Ordnance Datum – a theoretical level zero which is assumed to be the mean sea level at Newlyn, Cornwall. From this base point, all Ordnance Survey heights above sea level (such as contours) are related, as are geologic surveys and tidal observations.

[edit] Project benchmarking

Project benchmarking is a process by which the estimated performance (such as cost) of a project is compared to other similar projects. This can highlight areas of the design that are not offering good value for money and can help in the assessment of tenders from suppliers and contractors.

Some websites allow construction professionals to benchmark their projectsperformance against construction industry standards generally. This system may use the nationally-recognised Constructing Excellence construction KPIs – a system of benchmarks used for performance measurement and productivity. By measuring and comparing a project or organisational performance against these benchmarks it is possible to identify areas in which it is possible to improve or to demonstrate excellence.

Benchmarking is increasingly carried out on public projects, as the government has access to large amounts of data for similar projects. For example, when analysis of the Buildings Schools for the Future programme was carried out, it exposed variations in costs that could not be justified by project differences.

Proposals are being considered that will see cost benchmarking carried out across all government capital programmes to create baselines for a cost/value-led approach to procurement.

For more information see: Project benchmark.

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