The Benchmarking

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Among the many quality tools being used, benchmarking is the tool or approach that is accelerating among many firms that have adopted the total quality management (TQM) philosophy. (Benchmarking, n. d.). Benchmarking helps the organizations to find the correct solutions by following the best practices of other organizations. That is, by evaluating the best or even the relevant practices of the other organizations that operate in their organizational sector or in other sectors, and which has faced similar challenges and situations, a particular organization can find their own solutions. This approach is being followed by many real organizations, and many of them are getting sizable benefits, although there some limitations to it. This paper focusing on the quality tool of Benchmarking will discuss its historical background, working principles, main benefits, and limitations, even while elaborating about its application by case studying two organizations, Xerox and Southwest Airlines. Although, benchmarking, as the term and as an approach, is being used in various organizational sectors from Information technology to various technologically advanced sectors, it seems ironic that it could have been originated from the manual labor-centric shoemaking industry. That is, in earlier times, cobblers would place a client’s foot on a bench and mark it out to make the pattern for the shoes, and also to measure the sizes, and this pattern became a reference point for the cobbler and helped ensure a better fit. (Ohab, 2011). From those beginnings, this practice of checking the best practices of others, and replicating it was carried out by various people and organizations throughout the 20th century, irrespective of the sectors. For example, Henry Ford created the assembly line in his car manufacturing units, after taking the tour of a Chicago slaughterhouse and watching carcasses hung on hooks mounted on a monorail move from one workstation to another.