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[Editor’s note: The following is excerpted from Sharon Lau’s book, Benchmarking: A Workbook for Healthcare Materials Managers. (Chicago: American Hospital Association Publishing; 1996.)]
You are ready for benchmarking if you can look at a process done in your department and you can think of at least one example of a process not in your geographic region (not in a hospital) that bears some resemblance to your process. For example, consider the processing of interoffice mail through your mailroom, and answer this question:
If you are asked to think of how your mailroom process compares to FedEx, which do you think of first?
A. FedEx flies planes; we don’t have any planes.
B. FedEx has lots more staff than we do.
C. FedEx brings all mail to a central location regardless of origin or delivery address, sorts it, then sends it back out; our interoffice mail is all brought to the mailroom, regardless of origin or delivery address, sorted, then sent back out.
If C was your answer, you are ready to begin your journey into benchmarking.
No process in an organization is so different, so unique, that it cannot be compared to other processes in the organization or to processes in other organizations. In fact, we would challenge you, . . . as you begin actually benchmarking with others, to be able to say, with any sincerity, that you cannot benchmark with anyone else because you are "different."