The value of benchmarking cities

The value of benchmarking cities

City leaders would like to be benchmarking themselves against other cities to identify new ideas and innovations.


There’s a reason that private companies spend millions of dollars on competitive research and analysis. They know that — by comparing themselves against their peers — they can find new ways to improve their service levels, manage costs, allocate resources and, ultimately, increase customer satisfaction.

Our work and conversations with municipal government leaders suggest they would like to be doing the same thing.

City leaders would like to be benchmarking themselves against other cities to identify new ideas and innovations. They would like to be looking for opportunities to adapt successful examples of service improvements or cost reduction techniques. They would like to be comparing service levels and uncovering gaps to help improve their own service delivery capacity.

Yet few cities are currently able to benchmark their services against their peers. In many cases, this is due to a lack of consistent global benchmarking tools or surveys (a gap we hope to help fill with this report). Only a handful of cities have the resources, time or capacity to conduct their own large, global benchmarking review. Most are struggling simply to compare their internal performance, year-over-year and service-by-service.

And that is what makes this report and benchmarking exercise so important. The cities that participated in this report were not trying to win a beauty contest or top a global ranking. Rather, they wanted to share their data and information in the hope of uncovering insights that would allow them to deliver their services more efficiently and effectively.

These cities recognize that ‘customer/citizen’ demand is changing and they want to respond to that change. They understand that their budgets are constrained and want to make smart, forward-looking changes. They know that new technologies and approaches are driving efficiency and effectiveness at the service level and they want to participate in it.

We hope this report will act as a catalyst to improved service delivery by encouraging city leaders to undertake, participate in and encourage service benchmarking.

The exercise was not without difficulty and we will be the first to admit that the data provided in this report paints an incomplete picture of the true efficiency and effectiveness of city services.

But we believe this and exercise, has uncovered important findings about city service delivery and benchmarking that, properly applied, will help city leaders create real and lasting improvements. We look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

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