Title: Benchmarking as a diagnostic process to increase the competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Manufacturing Enterprises

Authors: Alexandros Skandalakis, Geoff Nelder

Addresses: Enterprise Integration, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, MK43 0AL, UK. Enterprise Integration, Cranfield University, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, MK43 0AL, UK

Abstract: Benchmarking can be described as an alliance between partners to share information on practices, processes and measures that will stimulate innovative practices within a company, leading to improvement in corporate performance. As a process of finding and implementing best practices, it accelerates the rate of improvement by providing real world models and realistic improvement goals. Small and Medium-sized Manufacturing Enterprises are often reluctant to participate in a benchmarking study due to lack of time, scarcity of financial resources, deficiency of personnel resources, inadequacy of appropriate skills, and perplexity in selecting an appropriate partner. Those SMMEs that do benchmark often restrict their partner search to their local environs. The authors illustrate that benchmarking accessibility for SMMEs can be improved through the introduction of a company diagnostic scheme of profound significance for their sustainable development. The scheme involves a business Needs Analysis process that can provide participating companies with a fresh perspective on their strengths and weaknesses. The analysis connects to business performance, and is supplemented by a benchmarking study to help recalibrate the company towards best practice excellence. The objective is to provide a diagnosis of company strengths and weaknesses, and to make recommendations for improvement, obtained from companies of superior performance. The paper demonstrates that didactic and gnostic practices, identified through gnostic benchmarking, can have a significant effect upon the business improvement of SMMEs, despite the polyonymous and indiomorphous nature of their business environment.

Keywords: diagnostics; benchmarking; assessment; performance measurement; business improvement; Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, SMEs.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBPM.2001.000103

International Journal of Business Performance Management, 2001 Vol.3 No.2/3/4, pp.261-275

Published online: 13 Jul 2003 *

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