Inderscience Publishers

Benchmarking Zimbabwe's crucial public service operations to facilitate adoption of best practices or reengineering for world-class status

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Zimbabweans often complain about poor service in some public service departments (Daily News, 2002). When it comes to applying for passports, registering birth, death or national identity, obtaining police clearance or consulting in hospitals, people face long queues and considerable delays. Typically, complaints have been associated with the bureaucracy, centralised decision-making, considerable delays, tedious procedures, monopoly, training needs, employee welfare, and lack of political will. As the standard of living improves for many Zimbabweans, time is of paramount importance. As a consequence, the cost of having customers wait for service increases significantly. Organisations that can provide fast service have a competitive advantage over those that respond more slowly to customer requirements. Gains through benchmarking have been listed as better understanding of internal and external customer relationships. In terms of external relationships, these are links in the customer chain, better awareness of competitors and improved customer satisfaction; with internal customers this equates to improved efficiency and morale, improved quality/reduced waste, a better standing within the organisation's market, improved performance of the organisation as a whole as well as acceptance of the need to innovate. This study benchmarked Zimbabwe's crucial public service operations with those of South Africa, UK, USA and Japan, in order to facilitate the adoption of the best practices or reengineering for world-class status. The author, however, acknowledges country differences in political, economic and technological development. The reality of the implementation of the world's best practice benchmarks, given Zimbabwe's massive social, political and economic problems may, however, not be achieved easily.

Keywords: benchmarking, business process reengineering, public sector, information technology, Zimbabwe, public service operations, best practice

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