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STEP 2. ESTABLISH MEASURES Once the benchmarking agreement is completed, you need to return to initial internal activities for customer-driven benchmarking. The next step is to be sure that your maintenance organization is focusing on providing customer-oriented products and services. A place to start is with the maintenance organization's or agency's vision and mission statements. A vision statement describes what the agency wants to become in the future. The vision statement usually attempts to depict a desirable future end-state for the agency and therefore provides direction for the agency. The vision statement is also likely to address customers, attributes of key products and services, and quality. Sometimes the vision statement addresses both external and internal customers. You should carefully distinguish between the two because the focus of customer-driven benchmarking is on external customers. The vision statement may also stress a commitment to quality, continuous improvement, or both. Examining the vision statement of your maintenance organization and of the overall agency will help provide direction for benchmarking. Below is the vision statement for Caltrans. California will have the safest, best-managed seamless transpor- tation system in the world. Every Caltrans employee contributes to improving mobility. Our workforce will be a diverse, professional, and effective team whose members value each other's contributions. We will be responsive and accountable. We will be well managed and serve as a model for others. We will work in partnership with other agencies and the public to ensure that our work is done in a way that is sensitive to the needs of the environment and communities. We will use the latest research and technology to improve mobility for people, goods, and information. We anticipate and plan for changes. The public will appreciate the quality of our products and services and the participation that it has had in our decisionmaking. 85

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Chapter 4: Steps of Customer-Driven Benchmarking Use Worksheet 2 to analyze the role of the customer in the vision of your agency: Write out your current vision statement, Identify key phrases in your vision statement, Identify how each phrase relates to the customer, Assess the degree to which your vision statement relates to the customer by checking off the appropriate answer to each question, Write a revised vision statement if you feel it will benefit your benchmarking activities, and Verify that key phrases of your revised vision statement have a relationship to the customer by completing the last part of the worksheet. USE MORE THAN ONE WORKSHEET IF NECESSARY. 86

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WORKSHEET 2. ROLE OF CUSTOMER IN VISION YOUR VISION STATEMENT The department will meet the needs of its citizens, visitors, and commerce for mobility and accessibility in a manner that enables the people to prosper in a rapidly changing global economy and to enjoy a high quality of life in an environmentally sustainable manner. KEY PHRASES RELATIONSHIP TO CUSTOMER 1. Will meet needs of citizens, visitors, and 1. Identifies three customer segments commerce 2. Key transportation attributes important to 2. For mobility and accessibility customers 3. That enables the state to prosper in a rapidly 3. Addresses economic prosperity of customers changing global economy and need for continuous change 4. To enjoy high quality of life in an 4. Addresses environmentally sustainable quality environmentally sustainable manner of life of customers ASSESSMENT OF VISION STATEMENT Customer(s) directly addressed? Yes No Key transportation attributes explicitly addressed? Yes No Addresses quality/continuous improvement? Yes No Others: REVISED VISION STATEMENT (for Agency or Road Maintenance) Vision statement is OK 1. 1. 2. 2. 3. 3. 4. 4. 87

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Chapter 4: Steps of Customer-Driven Benchmarking Mission While the vision statement of an organization describes what the agency wants to become in the future, its mission statement describes what the agency is supposed to do that justifies its existence. In most cases, the customer is prominent in the mission of the overall agency and in the mission of the maintenance organization. A common mission statement says the agency is responsible for providing safe, efficient, aesthetically pleasing transport of people and goods in a manner that is sensitive to the environment. Below is the mission statement of the Maryland State Highway Administration. "To provide mobility for our customers on a safe, well-maintained and attractive highway system that supports Maryland's economy in an environmentally responsible manner" Note the following characteristics of this mission statement: 1. It addresses external customers, the people who use the highway system. 2. The mission identifies in broad terms the main product or service the agency provides, namely mobility. 3. The mission stresses the importance of certain attributes of the products and services and lists them in an order that may reflect the agency's priorities: safe, well maintained, attractive, supportive of Maryland's economy, and environmentally responsible. This mission statement, like many others, provides strong clues regarding how to begin thinking about a benchmarking program from the standpoint of the customer. 88

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Use Worksheet 3 to analyze the role of the customer in the mission: Write out the current mission statement, Identify key phrases in your mission statement, Identify how each phrase relates to the customer, Assess the degree that your mission statement relates to the customer by checking off the appropriate answer to each question, Write a revised mission statement if you feel it will benefit your benchmarking activities, and Verify that each key phrase of your revised mission statement has a relationship to the customer by completing the last part of the worksheet. USE MORE THAN ONE WORKSHEET IF NECESSARY. 89

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Chapter 4: Steps of Customer-Driven Benchmarking WORKSHEET 3. ROLE OF CUSTOMER IN MISSION YOUR MISSION STATEMENT The mission of the department is to provide safe, efficient, pleasing transportation that protects or enhances the environment. KEY PHRASES RELATIONSHIP TO CUSTOMER 1. These are three attributes important to the 1. Provide safe, efficient, pleasing transportation road user 2. This is an attribute important to road users, 2. That protects or enhances the environment general public, and adjacent property owners 3. 3. 4. 4. ASSESSMENT OF MISSION STATEMENT Customer(s) directly addressed? Yes No Key transportation attributes explicitly addressed? Yes No Addresses quality/continuous improvement? Yes No Others: REVISED MISSION STATEMENT (for Agency or Road Maintenance) Our mission is to continually improve and exceed the customer's expectations by delivering safe, efficient, pleasing road transport in a manner that promotes economic growth and protects and enhances the environment. KEY PHRASES RELATIONSHIP TO CUSTOMER 1. Customer can expect continuous quality 1. Continually improve and exceed improvement and expectations to be customer expectations exceeded 2. In delivering safe, efficient, pleasing road 2. These are highway attributes important to transport customer 3. Promotes economic growth and 3. Goals important to road users and those protects and enhances the environment affected by highway activity 4. 4. 90

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Attributes of Products or Services and Activities In the past, maintenance management has been organized around various activities. Managers and crews thought of themselves as performing certain types of activities ranging from pothole repair to trimming vegetation to snow and ice control. However, these activities were not described in such a way that the relationship to the organization's customer was apparent. The connection between the activities and customer satisfaction, customer-oriented outcomes, or the value customers received was weak or not evident. An increasing number of agencies have taken a step back from always thinking in terms of activities and have asked more fundamental questions: What business are we in? Who are our customers? What products and services do we deliver? What attributes of the products and services are customers buying? How do we increase or create value for our customers? Customer-driven benchmarking begins by answering these questions. Approach Determining what your customers are buying will require fresh thinking. If people in your maintenance organization are accustomed to thinking in terms of maintenance activities rather than being in the business of delivering products and services to various groups of customers, you might have difficulty at first. You will need to assemble a group of key maintenance managers and charge them with determining what customers are fundamentally buying. Your challenge will be to reach some consensus. Suppose you begin with winter maintenance operations. What are customers buying? Snow and ice control? Anti-icing or deicing? 91

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Chapter 4: Steps of Customer-Driven Benchmarking The ability to drive the speed limit, unrestricted by snow and ice? Safe passage to destination on roads free of snow and ice--in other words, on roads whose pavements are returned to bare condition as quickly as possible after snow or ice begins to accumulate? Market Research To determine what customers are buying, your agency should conduct market research. You will need to enlist people with expertise in market research to help you. They can be found inside your organization or in market research and consulting firms. There are four types of market research inputs that can provide insight regarding what customers are buying: 1. Market research literature regarding road maintenance. See the References section. 2. Surveys that have been previously conducted by various agencies. See Appendix E. Both the questions and the responses can be revealing in terms of what customers are buying. 3. Focus groups should represent different segments of customers, so you may have to conduct a number of them. See Appendix C for further guidance regarding focus groups. 4. Surveys of your own customers. Design, administer, and summarize responses to surveys of your maintenance organization's customers. See Appendix C for guidance on developing and administering surveys. Example The Minnesota DOT (MnDOT) undertook a major effort to rethink its approach to maintenance in business terms and defined seven products and services: 1. Clear roadways Clear of debris, and Roadway clear of ice and snow. 92

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2. Smooth and reliable pavements Availability of roadway for year-round use, Road ride comfort, and Road reliability. 3. Available bridges 4. Attractive roadsides Amount of roadside litter, Noxious weed control, and Vegetation height control. 5. Safety features Guardrail and bridge rail condition, Pavement markings, Roadway lighting, Signing, and Traffic signals functioning as designed. 6. Highway permit/regulations Encroachments on the right-of-way, Accessibility of permit office, Consistency of permit requirements, and Time required to issue permits. 7. Motorist services Motorist information on unplanned conditions, and Attractive rest areas. In the process of identifying products and services, MnDOT also identified the products' and services' important attributes. The list above shows the attributes the department initially associated with each product and service. Over time, MnDOT has become increasingly sophisticated in its understanding of the attributes of its products and services, partly as a result of carrying out an extensive program of market research. Table 3 presents an expanded set of attributes that MnDOT has identified. These attributes become the basis for developing customer-oriented outcome measures. 93

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Chapter 4: Steps of Customer-Driven Benchmarking Table 3. Attributes MnDOT Has Identified or Addressed in Market Research Category Attributes Clear Roadways Clear of unplanned obstructions Roadway clear of ice and snow Trucks plowing as soon as snow appears Plowing frequency during average snowfall Ability to see shoulder striping during snowfall Ability to see road edge during snowfall Ability to make turns at crossovers/intersections Driving speed during snowfall Day versus night snow removal expectations Weekend versus weekday snow removal expectations Radio channels listed for weather/road information Bare wheel paths Scattered slippery spots Only right lane plowed to bare pavement All driving lanes plowed to bare pavement All lanes plowed full width Fully cleared intersections/crossovers Smooth and Availability of roadway for year-round use Reliable Road ride comfort Pavements Road reliability Available Bridges Availability of bridges Safety Features Guardrail and bridge rail condition Pavement markings Roadway lighting Signing Traffic signals functioning as designed Attractive woods by road and lack of clear space to woods Vegetation on shoulders blocking site distance Vegetation blocking site distance at corners Vegetation blocking signs Attractive Amount of roadside litter Roadsides Noxious weed presence Vegetation height Neatness of vegetation Highway Permits/ Encroachments on right-of-way Regulations Accessibility of permit office Consistency of permit requirements Time to issue permits Motorist Services Motorist information on unplanned conditions Rest area attractiveness 94

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Attributes of Products and Services Important to Your Customers You will now use the inputs you have obtained from market research literature, surveys conducted by other organizations, focus groups, and additional customer surveys your organization has undertaken in order to begin to characterize what customers of maintenance are buying. If no research information is available, you can use your internal team for ideas on what customers want, desire, or are buying. These are the attributes of a product or service. Brainstorm or extract from research a list of what your customers desire. These are the outcome attributes of maintenance work that are important to your customers. Reorganize the list of attributes into categories. Derive each category by grouping attributes based on a specific aspect of a driver's experiences. Finally, give the category a name that summarizes what the customer is receiving from the collection of attributes. The completed Worksheet 4 presents an example of how to proceed. Use Worksheet 4 to define your products and services. In the left column, list all of the attributes (what the customer is buying, wants, or desires) from the available research or your implementation team's ideas. This is an exercise to generate a list. Then edit the list: eliminate items that are redundant or not really important. In the center column, group the attributes into categories that relate to a similar aspect of driving experiences. There will likely be 5 to 10 categories. In the right column, establish a name for each category that captures the essence of what the driving customer desires, wants, or is buying, as represented by the group of attributes. These names then become the names of the maintenance products or services. USE MORE THAN ONE WORKSHEET IF NECESSARY. 95

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Summary of Performance Measures for Each Product or Service That a Partner Would Like to Benchmark Each partner will need to complete a description of the measures that they have available or believe are appropriate for the each product or service to be benchmarked. This set of measures will later need to be reviewed by each partner and a commitment will be reached on the common data and measures that each member of the partnership will use. From their own Worksheets 6 through 10, each partner should aggregate the outcome, resource, hardship, and output measures and use it in Worksheet 12. Use Worksheet 12 to summarize the recommended measures that your organization uses or would like to use for benchmarking a desired product or service: At the top of the page, enter: The product or service being benchmarked, The name of the partner and Identification code, The benchmarking agreement number, The organizational level for the benchmarking units, and The number of benchmarking units. In the left two columns, number and list the code and the name of each recommended measure. For coding, use "OC" to indicate it is an outcome measure; "OP" to indicate it is an output measure; "R" to indicate it is a resource measure; and "H" to indicate it is a hardship measure. Code each measure of each type consecutively (e.g., R1, R2, . . . RN). In the remaining columns to the right, for each outcome, output, resource, or hardship measure, provide the following information: In column three, a description of the measure (e.g., mean of total segment samples of edge drop-off of more than 2 extrapolated to the number of lane miles); In column four, "UOM" is the unit of measure (e.g., the number of linear ft. of edge drop-off >2 per 1/4-mile segment); In column five, "Scale" is the measurement scale (e.g., linear feet/lane mile); In column six, "Summary Statistic" is the summary statistic of the measure (total, mean, median, etc.); and In column seven, "Protocol" is the measurement protocol that is the name or code of a document that defines the measure. USE MORE THAN ONE WORKSHEET IF NECESSARY. 113

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WORKSHEET 12. SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDED MEASURES Product/Service: Smooth Pavements Name & Code of Partner: Department of Transportation, Code 00031 Benchmarking Agreement # : B1234567 Organizational Level of Benchmarking Unit: County Number of Benchmarking Units: 13 Measure Measure Summary Description of the Measure UOM Scale Protocol Code Name Statistic Deviation in the elevation of a pavement from a Inch per Section Mean in OC 1 IRI fixed horizontal plane Mile 50210 County FHWA Survey Q on Semi-annual drivers survey rating their satisfaction Mean County Survey Design & OC 2 Smoothness with the smoothness of the pavement Rating 15 Response Interview Instruct. R1 Labor Total hours of labor for activities 150165 Hrs Total Hrs Maint. Manual R2 Equipment Total hours of equipment usage, activities 150165 Hrs Total Hrs Maint. Manual Number of degrees below freezing summed for the Maint. Manual H1 Degree Days year Degrees 050 Sum Section 4.2 Lane Miles Numbers of lane miles treated with activities 150 Lane Maint. Manual OP 1 Treated 165 for the season Miles 0500 Sum Section 5.6

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Availability of Performance Data and Measures Benchmarking requires performance evaluations to be made and shared among the benchmarking units of all benchmarking partners. Performance is calculated for a specific time period--for example, monthly, semi-annually, or annually (for most customer driven-benchmarking, the time period will initially be annually). Therefore, the time of the year that the measure is available for calculating performance is important to the partners. Suppose the product or service is "Clear Roadways"(clear of ice and snow). If "customer's satisfaction with this service" is an outcome measure that partners agree to use, then it is important to know when the data (in this case, the customer research data) and the corresponding measure are available to the agency and all of the benchmarking partners. One agency might conduct a customer phone survey on a continuing basis throughout the winter season, and complete data may be available at the end of the season in May. Another partner might conduct a single survey in July and not have data available until October. Unless the latter partner is willing to change the timing, the type of survey, or both, the benchmarking could not take place until sometime after October. Data availability will therefore significantly impact the time of year that the partnership can conduct benchmarking for a specific product or service. Knowing when data and corresponding measures are available is very important information to consider and share with partners. Use Worksheet 13 to document when each candidate measure from Worksheet 12 is available. At the top of this worksheet, repeat the information from the top of Worksheet 12. Repeat the code and name of the measure and the first two columns from Worksheet 12 (e.g., OC1, Customer Satisfaction with Sign Visibility). In the third column, write the specific data that is collected for the measure (e.g., Response to Semi-annual Customer Survey). In the columns representing the months of the year, place an "x" in the columns representing the months in which the data is collected or needs to be collected for the measure. Place an M (for measure) in the months that the measure is calculated and available or should be available. If in one month data is both collected and the measure is available, just place an M in that month. 115

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WORKSHEET 13. AVAILABILITY OF DATA AND MEASURE Product/Service: Smooth Pavement Name & Code of Partner: Department of Transportation, 00031 Benchmarking Agreement #: 1234567 Organizational Level of Benchmarking Unit: County Number of Benchmarking Units: 13 Code Measure Name Descriptions of Data Being Collected J F M A M J J A S O N D Roughness ratings, mean for OC 1 IRI x x x M primary roads for each county Survey Pavement Summary mean of responses to OC 2 Smoothness x x x x x x M question rating smoothness or roads All labor hours logged in MMIS for R1 Labor Hours x x x x x x x M activities 150159 All equipment hours logged for R2 Equipment Hours x x x x x x x M activities 150159 Number of degrees below freezing each H1 Degree Days x x x M x x x day of the year Amount of rain, ice, and snow fallen H2 Precipitation x x x x x x x x M x x x in a year, annual data Lane Miles Total # of lane miles treated by OP 1 Treated x x x x x x x x M activities 150159

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Now that you have determined what your organization uses or would like to use as measures of performance, the lead partner organization must coordinate with each of the partners to reach agreement among the partnership to ensure that each partner is committed to a common set of measures for each product or service to be benchmarked. The lead partner will need to ensure that completed Worksheets 5, 12, and 13 from each partner are shared with all other partners for this purpose. It is likely that individual partners will need to be flexible in three primary areas: 1. The partnership will want each of the partners to aggregate a similar (as much as is possible) set of activities that define a product or service even though the product or service may have different names. For example, one agency may call its winter services by the name "clear roadways," while another agency refers to the same service as "snow and ice control." The focus is not on the name, but rather on the activities that make up the product or service. 2. Any partner may need to include activities that might be performed by another organization or organizational units. For instance, in providing a smooth ride, a substantial portion of the activities that affect ride quality may be performed by construction or contractors. Therefore, the partnership will have to make a commitment regarding what activities of the maintenance organization and other organizations are included in the customer-oriented product or service that they want to benchmark. 3. Data collection for measurements may need to change for any given partner. For example, many maintenance organizations have instituted a "level of service" measure to determine the actual quality of highways or specific aspects of highways and other maintenance assets. If the measurements to determine level of service are different from one partner (and its benchmarking units) to the next, then partners cannot very well compare performance of benchmarking units. Another example is that some partners may need to institute customer satisfaction 117

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Chapter 4: Steps of Customer-Driven Benchmarking measures for its benchmarking units. Such measures need to be the same for all benchmarking units of the partners. Once the partners have reached agreement and have made a commitment to the activities to be included in a product or service to be benchmarked and the measures and their timing of availability, then a single set of Worksheets 5, 12, and 13 will be completed by the lead partner and circulated to all partners, thereby clarifying the commitment that each partner has made. The performance comparisons that will take place depend upon this commitment. At this point, the lead partner will need to establish the time frame for the benchmarking activities and to receive a commitment from each partner for completing activities according to this timeframe. For each product or service to be benchmarked, this includes the following: The beginning time for performance measures data collection (this assumes that data is not already available and that you are not benchmarking from past performance). A time at which the completed measures will be available to all partners. A time when the partner who will perform the performance comparisons will provide the results to all partners. A time frame for each of the "best" or better-performing benchmarking units to document their practices and make them available to each of the other partners. A time frame for partners and their respective benchmarking units to assess the practices of better- performing benchmarking units and to make decisions regarding any practices that they wish to implement. Likely, the partnership is planning to compare performances in the future (e.g., fall of next year); each partner will need to ensure that it has the capability and procedures for collecting the agreed-upon data for outcomes, outputs, resources, and hardship factors within the agreed-upon time periods. This may mean that there is a time gap between the time that the partnership shares final information from Worksheets 5, 12, and 118

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13 and the time when data is collected for the first benchmarking performance comparison. During this time period, each partner should begin documenting the business processes of each of its benchmarking units. If there is no gap in time, then each partner will need to document business processes during the period of data collection. Documenting Existing Business Processes Part of your preparations for benchmarking should involve documenting your existing business processes, particularly those you plan to benchmark. You will need this documentation as a basis for making comparisons to business processes associated with best practices. Examining Existing Business Processes You should take a preliminary look at the business processes you are most likely to benchmark and make sure you have a solid understanding of them. Many maintenance organizations have performance standards or maintenance handbooks that describe what complements of labor, equipment, and material are normally used to carry out each activity. Performance standards may also include steps of the business process in broad terms. If the steps are exceedingly broad, you may wish to prepare a more detailed set of steps. Also, rapidly advancing technology may have affected how you do your work, and you should understand how current and evolving technology contributes to your business process. Environmental and occupational and safety regulations may pertain to a certain type of activity, and you should understand how procedures for complying with them fit in your work flow. How scheduling and daily work reporting fit into the business process can also affect productivity and outcomes. For example, organizations use different strategies to minimize the amount of time that crew leaders spend filling out daily work reports. Some methods are very effective in certain circumstances and completely free crews and their leaders to do maintenance work. 119

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Chapter 4: Steps of Customer-Driven Benchmarking Business Process Diagramming An effective way to help thoroughly understand the business process is to diagram it using standard business process flow diagrams. A few simple conventions should be observed when you prepare a business process flow diagram: 1. Make a list of each step of the overall business process. Each step should be described at roughly the same level of detail. 2. Identify the personnel who carry out each step. 3. Diagram the business process using the conventions shown in Figure 9. 4. Begin every step of the business process with a verb (e.g., set up work zone, remove litter, clean spreader). 5. Connect each box by arrows in the sequence in which the steps of the business process occur. There may be parallel processes. 6. Some business processes involve one or more decision points. Diagram each decision point and show the business processes that follow from each branch of the decision. 7. If the gathering, storage, retrieval, and transfer of information are part of the business process, use the convention in Figure 9 to show databases that are sources or destinations of information. Figure 10 shows an example of a business process flow diagram. Note that the actors involved in each step are identified at the top of the diagram. You could use a different convention for identifying the actors, but this is as good as any. 120

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Process: Begin with a verb........ Decision: Yes No Stored Data Figure 9. Business Process Diagramming Conventions TEAM LEADER SUPERVISOR CLERK/OFFICE TEAM MEMBERS SECRETARY Completes Work Remote Data Entry? Inputs Inputs TeamTAC Activity Data Card in Reviews/Corrects/ (TAC) Data in Remote Remote Data Data Entry Approves on Computer Entry Device Device Completes TAC Various Systems Financial Equipment Payroll Exp. Tracking Reviews/Corrects/Approv Reviews/Corrects/ Enters TAC Into into Approves Paper es Paper TAC TAC Computer Various Systems Approves Timesheets Financial Reviews and Signs Equipment Timesheet with With Labor Labor Payroll Hours Printed Out out by by Computer Exp. Tracking Figure 10. Example Business Process Flow Diagram 121

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Chapter 4: Steps of Customer-Driven Benchmarking Once you have prepared the diagram, you should also write out the corresponding steps in the manner shown below in order to make the diagram fully understandable and to check its accuracy. Frequently, by writing out the steps you will see errors or ways to draw the diagram to more accurately reflect the business process it depicts. The steps of the example business process shown in Figure 9 are as follows: 1. The team leader (and rest of team) completes work. 2a. If remote data entry occurs, the team leader inputs the Team Activity Card (TAC, or daily work report) into a remote data-entry device. 2b. A supervisor reviews, corrects, and/or approves the daily work report on a computer, and the work report is uploaded to various systems (e.g., financial, equipment, payroll, or expenditure tracking). 2c. Each team member reviews and signs a timesheet with labor hours printed out by computer. 3a. If remote data entry does not occur, the team leader fills out a paper TAC. 3b. The supervisor reviews, corrects, and/or approves the paper TAC. 3c. The clerk or office secretary enters the information on the paper TAC into a computer and it is uploaded to various systems (e.g., financial, equipment, payroll, or expenditure tracking). 3d. Team members review and sign the timesheet, with the labor hours printed out by computer. 4. The supervisor approves the timesheets. Developing a Repository You should develop a repository of business process flow diagrams. You could place them in a file folder, but it is better to store them electronically in a computer: you can easily retrieve 122

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them, place them in electronic documents, and exchange them with your benchmarking partners when you are analyzing best practices. Usually the diagrams you will need for benchmarking are simple enough to draw, and there is no reason to use special software. You can prepare them using any standard drawing tool, including the one found in your computer office suite software. However, there are a large number of Computer Assisted Software Engineering (CASE) tools that include software for business process flow diagramming. So you could use a CASE tool instead. CASE tools typically include an electronic repository for business process flow diagrams. Database Design As soon as you take various outcome measurements and collect other relevant data, you will need to store it. Therefore, before you collect performance data, it is necessary to design a database. One of the benchmarking partners or a third party will need to develop the database. It is recommended that you pay careful attention to the details of database design because you may have to store a considerable amount of data. Since benchmarking is a continuous activity, you will be collecting data year after year. You may be able to get by with the database that is part of the suite of software on your desktop or laptop computer. Nonetheless, consider getting the assistance of a person experienced in developing databases. Database design includes selecting the database software you will use and establishing each of the fields, their location in the record, and their type and length. You should use standard database software that supports Standard Query Language (SQL) operations and Open Database Connectivity (ODBC). For certain applications, it may be important to store the data in a manner that easily permits standard database operations such as "joins" and "select." In such a case, formal database design procedures may be warranted (i.e., preparing an entity relationship diagram). 123