Date: 12 March 2024By

A Successful Milestone for the WAITRO Online Benchmarking Project

The WAITRO Online Benchmarking Project recently marked a significant milestone. The project started in September 2021 with the aim of building an online benchmarking system to help Research and Technology Organizations (RTOs) identify the best management practices and facilitate mutual learning. Organized by the WAITRO Secretariat at JITRI, the project also leveraged expertise from Knud Erik Hilding-Hamann and Moses Mengu at the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) and from David Grier, former Vice President of WAITRO and active member of the WAITRO Alumni Network. David was also the leader of the original WAITRO benchmarking initiatives in the 1990s and contributed his accumulated wisdom and experience.

In October 2022, the system was fully developed, based around an online questionnaire consisting of 79 questions and four follow-up questions.

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At the WAITRO Summit 2022, the project team hosted a Benchmarking Workshop, introducing the goals and the project background, and officially launched the online system. During 2023, we executed the first phase of the project, with a total of 30 WAITRO member RTOs and their institutes from all five active WAITRO regions completing the comprehensive online questionnaire. We extend our sincere appreciation to these RTOs, including UY1, CARIRI, JU, KIBU, Laboratorios Técnicos – MEM, BRIN, SIRIM, TISTR, CSIRO, RSS, SIRDC, CTA, UIRI, DTI and JITRI, for their enthusiastic involvement and unwavering support. This phase is now complete.

On February 27, 2024, the WAITRO Secretariat held a Benchmarking Project Webinar to disseminate the results amongst the active participants. Led by Knud Erik with support from Dong Chuqiao and Hang Yucheng at JITRI, the webinar provided a comprehensive overview of the project’s progress.

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During the webinar, attendees were provided with an overview of the project’s objectives and the overall results obtained from the online questionnaire completed by the participating RTOs. Key highlights included a close look at specific management Processes from the three Process Areas of top interest of the RTOs.

For instance, in the “Business Development” Process Area, the Process “Financing business development activities” was discussed. The objective of the Process is to manage the cost of business development while ensuring appropriate activities are accomplished. According to the benchmarking result, “Corporate personnel and those at the unit level having business development budgets and tracking costs against them” was identified to be the best practice for this Process.

In the “Capability Building” Process Area, the Process “Method of funding capital investments that improve capabilities” was discussed. The objective of the Process is to fund the acquisition of the equipment/facilities needed to deliver the appropriate services to clients. Although the benchmarking result identified “The RTO creates a fund for capital investment from regular operation surpluses” as the best practice, this practice was only reported by one RTO, potentially generating limitations on the statistical significance of the result due to small sample size. Furthermore, differences between best practice results from previous studies and the current project were noted, emphasizing the need for cautious interpretation.

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Knud Erik recommended that individual institutes discuss results and good practices from the WAITRO Online Benchmarking Project in future events to be led by WAITRO’s Regional Focal Points. He encouraged active participation in discussions, sharing of best practices, and contributions to a potential good practice online repository. Good practice owners can offer their assistance through instructional webinars, Q&A events, or other forms of support.

During the Q&A session at the end of the webinar, attendees had the opp