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WHO IS INVOLVED? All Levels Customer-driven benchmarking of maintenance activities requires the involvement of managers at all levels of the organization. Different levels of management in the maintenance organization have different roles in benchmarking: Head of maintenance, chief engineer, chief executive officer: Provide leadership, foster the necessary change in culture, facilitate communication among organizations or organizational units participating in benchmarking, approve new performance targets, and allocate resources for improvements. District, area, and garage managers: Take measurements by collecting data, help document existing practices and share practices with benchmarking partners, assist in implementing improved practices, and help make recommendations for reallocation of resources. Superintendents and crew leaders: Assist in documenting existing practices, implement improved practices, and provide data on accomplishments and resources used. Contract managers and inspectors: Work with contractors to identify existing practices, and provide data on accomplishments and expenditures on contractors. Government personnel and contractors who perform road maintenance are on the frontlines in providing safe, efficient, pleasing, and environmentally sensitive highway transportation to the public. Also, road maintenance personnel must also make sure that a transportation agency is a good neighbor to all owners of property along highways and streets. Each level of the maintenance organization will need to fully buy into the benchmarking effort. This includes key maintenance managers in headquarters and the districts, areas, and garages in the geographic areas where benchmarking is likely to occur. In addition, crew leaders who may participate in benchmarking need to be brought along. Any effort that seeks to build support should ask managers for suggestions and ideas about the potential merits of benchmarking, identify challenges and ways to overcome 17
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Chapter 1: Introduction to Benchmarking them, get their best ideas on how to proceed, and obtain their commitment. Champions It has been demonstrated repeatedly in many areas that a champion can greatly accelerate the implementation of a new process. A champion serves as an advocate, helps decisions move through the organization, and facilitates implementation. You should look around your organization for a person who has the natural attributes of a champion for benchmarking. The person should be an early advocate, an articulate spokesperson, someone with credibility, a doer, and a facilitator. It is likely that this person is comfortable learning from others, is keen to adopt or exceed best practices wherever they are found, and can motivate others to do likewise. It is wise not to rely on a single champion, but to have several, or at least one backup. Frequently a champion gets promoted or takes a new job elsewhere. If the benchmarking effort depends on the presence of the champion in order to move forward or to succeed and that person leaves, then the undertaking is likely to suffer or fail. Therefore, there should always be at least one other person who also serves as a champion or who can step into the champion's role and show similar enthusiasm. Unions It is very important for maintenance organizations to involve their union organizations in the benchmarking processes. Benchmarking produces changes in the practices of those who perform maintenance work activities. Unions are very concerned about workers and any management actions that impact workers. Unions may take issue with various aspects of benchmarking, such as the agency enrolling in a benchmarking partnership that might expose the agency to new work methods. Approached properly, unions will buy into benchmarking. They are likely to cooperate with the process once they realize that improved performance from benchmarking activities strengthens the workers' position and reduces the potential for replacement by private contracting. 18