Guide to Benchmarking Field Operations
The purpose of this guide is to promote the use of field benchmarking to improve the quality, productivity, and safety of electrical construction. Field benchmarking increases electrician participation in the decisions that affect the daily work and the quality of the workplace environment. Effective field benchmarking develops mutually agreed to performance goals, designs work processes to achieve these goals, and then sets performance criteria for measuring the effectiveness of work processes.
This guide provides a step-by-step approach for implementing an effective field benchmarking program in the electrical contracting firm. Benchmarking can be a key element of the electrical contracting firm’s continuous improvement program. Benchmarking provides the yardstick against which improvement efforts can be measured. Without measurement, there is no way of knowing if progress is being made toward goals or not.
Field benchmarking is a special case of benchmarking that focuses on improving the electrical contracting firm’s field operations. Field benchmarking is not just about setting performance goals and measuring performance toward their attainment. Field benchmarking is about measuring the ability of the electrical contracting firm and electricians to design effective and efficient construction means and methods to get the work completed on time, within budget, and in accordance with the contract documents. The field benchmarking process presented in this guide requires active crew involvement in the continuous improvement process, open lines of communication between the contractor and the crew, and most importantly trust.
A word of caution. Field benchmarking is not about evaluating crew or individual electrician performance. Field benchmarking is about evaluating and improving the work processes that the crew works within. For field benchmarking to work, the electrical contractor must take responsibility for many of the problems in the field, listen to and value the electrician’s suggestions about how to improve the process, and work directly with the electrician to improve the process. Field benchmarking requires trust and openness on both sides which requires an investment of time, effort, and training.
This guide is divided into six chapters and an appendix. Chapter 1 introduces field benchmarking and how it can be used to convert crews into self- managing teams. The five key elements necessary for an effective field benchmarking program are presented in Chapter 2. In Chapter 3, the eight-step field benchmarking process is discussed in detail. The “how to’s” of benchmarking are presented in Chapter 4. A generic field benchmarking procedure is provided in Chapter 5 that can be used by the electrical contracting firm as a model for developing its own field benchmarking procedure tailored to its needs. Chapter 6 discusses organizational learning as an important part of field benchmarking. Lastly, the appendix to this report provides a selected bibliography for additional information about benchmarking.