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Chapter 2: Selecting Benchmarking Partners long as it remains involved, but may leave the partnership at any time without cause. It is a mistake to include stringent exit procedures, because they will discourage potential partners from entering the agreement. Partners will remain involved as long as the partnership provides compelling benefits by showing organizations how they can improve performance as a result of adopting best practices. Sample Benchmarking Agreement Appendix A includes a sample agreement suitable for customer- driven benchmarking of road maintenance. ENROLLING BENCHMARKING UNITS IN EACH ORGANIZATION Once you have developed a benchmarking agreement with your partners, you need to recruit units within your agency to participate in benchmarking activities. Ideally, you will have taken this step before you signed the benchmarking agreement so that you have buy-in. Even so, you will have more to do to solidify the participation of the benchmarking units so that you can proceed to measure and analyze performance. By the time you sign a benchmarking agreement with your partners, you will probably know at what level of the organization you plan to benchmark and will have a general agreement to participate from the managers responsible for those organizational units. This understanding is more likely to have been reached at the middle and higher levels (e.g., garage level or higher) than at the crew level. You will need to fully engage the lower levels of the organization that are directly responsible for performing maintenance work. This is important because you will need to rely on work units to provide an accurate description of work methods, including labor, equipment and material used, as well as their role in the overall business processes of providing a maintenance product or service. In addition, you may need the cooperation of the work units in order to gather information not normally recorded in daily work reports, although crews should not be expected to collect data on outcomes. If there are possible barriers to engaging crews because of collective bargaining agreements, you may need to work with union representatives. 44