Reference point or standard against which performance or achievements can be assessed.
A benchmark refers to the performance that has been achieved in the recent past by other comparable organizations, or what can be reasonably inferred to have been achieved in the circumstances.
Benchmarking is a systematic approach described as “the search for best practices that will lead to superior performance” - it a process of measuring an organization's product or service according to specified standards in order to compare it with and improve the product or service.
It may be established within the same organization (internal benchmarking), outside of the organization with another organization that produces the same product or service (external benchmarking), or with reference to a similar function or process in another industry (functional benchmarking).
Adapted from European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. Glossary. 2009.