The benchmarking of information
systems supporting the university
An Italian experience
Raffaella Manzini and Valentina Lazzarotti
Department of Technologies, LIUC – Universita
C. Cattaneo, Castellanza, Italy
Purpose – The issue investigated in this work is relative to the features of the information
sub-systems supporting speciﬁc university administrative processes (accountancy, personnel
management, student services). This paper attempt: to develop a benchmarking model; and apply
the suggested model to a group of Italian universities.
Design/methodology/approach – While the literature analysis has been useful to achieve the ﬁrst
goal, the empirical methodology of case studies has been employed for both the objectives. It means
that there has been a full commitment of the involved universities also in the theoretical phase of the
Findings – Two types of speciﬁc results are expected through the application of the suggested
benchmarking model. The ﬁrst is the pertinent position of each university in respect with some
observed features of the information sub-systems. The second is the identiﬁcation of possible trends
that are widespread within the selected universities.
Research limitations/implications – Generalization of the benchmarking trends is not possible,
because trends arise from a limited group of universities.
Practical implications – The universities involved in the project have discovered the importance of
benchmarking as a means of improving their processes and systems.
Originality/value – This paper represents a ﬁrst attempt at developing a model to compare the
condition of the administrative information systems in a selected group of Italian universities.
Keywords Benchmarking, Information systems, Educational administration, Universities, Italy
Paper type Case study
Benchmarking is a tool for improving performance by learning from best practices and
understanding the processes by which they are achieved. As it is known today, it was
developed in the USA in the Seventies. Benchmarking was originally developed by
companies operating in an industrial environment. It has, therefore, been applied most
widely at the level of the business enterprise.
In recent years, organizations such as government agencies, hospitals and
universities have also discovered the value of benchmarking and are applying it to
improve their processes and systems.
International literature includes a large number of contributions deﬁning
benchmarking and by which means a benchmarking study can be carried out, in the
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
This paper is the result of a joint effort by the authors. However, Raffaella Manzini wrote
Sections 1 and 3, Valentina Lazzarotti wrote Sections 2, 4-7.
Benchmarking: An International
Vol. 13 No. 5, 2006
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited