“The process of identifying the best practice in relation to products and processes, both within an industry and outside it, with the object of using this as a guide and reference point for improving the practice of one’s own organization. Benchmarking can take place within an organization, when it may form part of a total quality management (TQM) exercise; in relation to direct competitors, although such organizations may be unwilling to divulge the details of their practices; or in relation to organizations in totally different fields, in which case the main value of the practice is that it forces people to look outside their established patterns of behaviour.” (Benchmarking, 2002).
“A reference point or standard of excellence against which similar or subsequent marks are compared.” (Barker, 2003, p. 41).
“The systematic process of comparing an organization’s products, services and practices against those of competitor organizations or other industry leaders to determine what it is they do that allows them to achieve high levels of performance.” (Society for Human Resources Management)
“Benchmarking is the technique of comparing organizations in order to identify ‘best practice’. Managers might benchmark their organization in order to assess how it is performing, to identify areas for improvement, and to look for new ideas. The purpose is to identify best practice and to transfer all or part of this to one’s own organization. Invariably the transfer process involves adapting the ideas and techniques to industry-specific or organizational-specific circumstances. In theory, any aspects of the organization’s operation can be benchmarked, including human resource policies and practices (training methods, equal opportunities policies, remuneration packages, etc.), providing they can be measured in a consistent manner across all organizations being compared.” (A Dictionary of Human Resource Management)

"benchmarking" A dictionary of business. (2002). [Online]. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Oxford Reference Online. BLC Boston College Libraries. Retrieved June 8, 2005. Barker, R.L. (2003). The social work dictionary (5th ed.). Washington, DC: NASW Press Society for Human Resource Management. (n.d.) Glossary. Retrieved August 16, 2005. Heery, E. and Noon, M. (2001). Benchmark. In A dictionary of human resource management. Oxford: Oxford University Press.