– A revisit of ‘Dubai We Learn’ Exemplar Benchmarking Projects –

By Professor Dotun Adebanjo and Dr Robin Mann

The great appeal of benchmarking is its ability to enable organisations to identify best practices from other organisations and adopt or adapt those practices to improve performance. The benchmarking process itself can be both demanding and exciting as the benchmarking team seeks to understand their organisation’s performance; identify, shortlist and visit benchmarking partners; determine the most suitable best practices; and work with internal (and sometimes external) stakeholders to implement the best practices.

Although many aspects of the benchmarking process can be underpinned or driven by prescriptive guidelines and also managed along pre-determined timelines, the implementation of best practices is less amenable to prescriptiveness and time limitation. This is principally because the numbers, nature, scope and ease of implementation will vary significantly with the type of project and particulars of the organisation. Indeed, where many best practices are selected for implementation, it may be necessary and beneficial to implement the practices in stages or batches. It is also important to note that the benchmarking process does not end with the identification of best practices or indeed their implementation, it is also necessary to evaluate if the desired outcomes have been achieved and if not, to understand why and refine the practices as necessary.

With this in mind, we returned to a sweltering Dubai in August 2019, 15 months after the completion of the second round of ‘Dubai We Learn’ (DWL) to visit three exemplar ‘7 Stars’ projects. ‘Dubai We Learn’ is an initiative of the Dubai Government Excellence Programme (DGEP) in collaboration with the Centre for Organisational Excellence Research (COER) based at Massey University New Zealand. The second round of ‘Dubai We Learn’ benchmarking projects consisted of 11 projects in different Dubai Government entities and took place between March 2017 and April 2018. Details of the 11 projects and their achievements by April 2018 are available in an e-book (to be published soon). Three of the eleven benchmarking projects were 7 stars for benchmarking proficiency based on the TRADE Benchmarking Methodology that was adopted to drive the DWL projects.

So, 15 months on, how have Dubai Government Human Resources (DGHR), Dubai Health Authority (DHA), and Dubai Police fared with their respective projects.

Case No. 3 – Dubai Police
The Dubai Police project was entitled, ‘Call of Duty: Police Edition – Best practices in vehicle fleet maintenance’. The aim of the project was to ‘To find and implement best practices in vehicle fleet maintenance to improve vehicle availability and labour productivity of the Dubai Police Mechanical Department to world class levels. The target was to increase labour productivity from 40% to 70% and increase vehicle availability from 88% to 95%.’ At the formal close of the benchmarking project in April 2018, the Dubai Police benchmarking team had identified 86 best practice ideas from benchmarking visits to 9 organisations and desktop research. Of the 86 best practices, 14 were approved for deployment.
At the formal close of the benchmarking project in April 2018, the Dubai Police benchmarking team had achieved an increase in productivity from 40% to 72% and vehicle availability from 88% to 95% (Aug-2017 to Mar-2018) saving 14 million AED. There had also been an increase in average actual hours working on job tasks of each mechanic from 2.4 hours per day to 5 hours per day and a reduced average repair time per task by at least 5%. Dubai Police have produced a video of their involvement and achievements in the second round of ‘Dubai We Learn’ projects and this can be found here:

Watch a video of Dubai Police’s benchmarking project

What has happened since then?

Dubai Police had met its key targets by April 2018. The purpose of our visit was to understand if they had maintained their achievements or built on them. Well, we were not disappointed. Dubai Police had not only maintained its performance levels, they had sought new ways to improve the maintenance of their fleet vehicles. In particular they had streamlined the delivery of parts and particularly high value parts. This had been achieved by working in partnership with parts suppliers and it meant that stock was now better managed to meet high demands and short lead-times. In addition, Dubai Police had also started to work more closely with agents from different car companies who are now based in the Dubai police workshop to work on the fleet vehicles to improve performance. KPIs per task have been set for the agents in order to improve efficiency. This has meant that Dubai Police technicians are now better able to concentrate on other maintenance tasks by having them removed from generic tasks such as tyre changing. Productivity and hours on repair jobs continue to be measured and monitored.

Perhaps the most important outcome of Dubai Police’s involvement in the ‘Dubai We Learn’ initiative is the acceptance and widespread deployment of benchmarking and improvement activities based on the TRADE methodology. All departments and sections of Dubai Police are now set KPIs linked to benchmarking improvement. At the time of our visit, there were 254 live improvement projects throughout Dubai Police that were based on the tools and methodologies of TRADE. The departments and sections are encouraged to apply desktop benchmarking in their search for best practices. The management of the roll out of benchmarking across Dubai Police is managed by the Quality Department. In order to promote involvement and improve benchmarking skills and capabilities, Dubai Police held a 4-day TRADE seminar for 1000 police officers. The performance of the departments and sections of Dubai Police against the KPIs set are monitored on an annual basis and there is a General Commander Award for the best performers.

The commitment of Dubai Police to continual improvement and the use of benchmarking as an improvement tool has led to significant external recognition of their performance and achievement. Further to the seven stars recognition at the end of the second round of the ‘Dubai We Learn’ initiative, Dubai Police’s project has been recognised at multiple awards:

  • Dubai Quality Group – First Place;
  • International Best Practice Award – Second Place;
  • Innovation Arabia – First Place;
  • Global Benchmarking Award – Second Place:
  • Commander Group – First Place
  • Knowledge Sharing Competition – First Place
  • Dubai Police Club – Shortlisted (awaiting final position)
  • Expo 2020 Global Best Practice Competition (awaiting final position)

With Dubai Police’s strong commitment to benchmarking Dubai citizens can be assured that they are in the safe hands of a progressive Police Force. In the future, more awards and international recognition is likely to follow especially as some of the team members from this project are now serving as mentors for another Dubai Police team that are participating in the 3rd Cycle of Dubai We Learn on a project titled “Airport Secure Luggage (Safe Bags)”. This new project aims to find and implement best practices in airport baggage security to enhance efficiency and operational capacity of the inspection process at Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central by Expo 2020. With 56 million bags handled and secured in 2018, Dubai Police are looking forward to another very successful project that will showcase their professionalism and leading-edge practices to the rest of the world.

Read the other case studies, Dubai Government Human Resources (DGHR) and Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

For more information on Dubai We Learn contact:

Dr. Zeyad Mohammad El Kahlout, Senior Quality and Excellence Advisor, Dubai Government Excellence Program (DGEP). Email: Zeyad.ElKahlout@tec.gov.ae


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