Last edited 23 Mar 2021

Project benchmarking

See also: Benchmarking as business tool.

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

Benchmarking is increasingly being carried out on public projects, where the government has access to large amounts of cost data for similar projects. For example, when analysis of the recent schools programme was carried out, it was found that it '... exposed variations in costs that could not be justified by project differences' (ref. Cabinet Office: Government Construction Strategy, May 2011).

It is now proposed that cost benchmarking should be carried out across all government capital programmes to create baselines for a cost/value-led approach to procurement.

In the private sector, comparable cost information may not be so readily available. However, large organisations may have access to in-house cost information, and some cost information is published. Comparative information can also be purchased from sources such as the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS). See BCIS Online for a description of the tender price and duration information available.

It is important, however, that benchmarking does not simply consider construction costs, as these are only a small proportion of whole-life costs, and setting a low benchmark for construction could result in higher operating, maintenance and refurbishment costs throughout the life of the building.

There is now an increasing amount of data available about energy use, sustainability and whole-life costs such as:

It is important also to consider both quality and time, as the lowest cost option may not always offer the best value for the client or deliver a completed project within the required timeframe.

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