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In April 2011, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and Water Research Commission (WRC) re-launched the national Municipal Benchmarking Initiative (MBI) for Water Services.

The MBI is a SALGA flag-ship initiative aimed at supporting municipalities towards improved and more efficient service delivery.  One of the aims of the MBI is to strengthen performance measurement, monitoring and management in municipal water services provision, using a web-based data-capture and reporting system for tracking and measuring performance, namely Munbench.

Munibench is structured as per the modular, tier based approach to benchmarking of the MBI to encourage and enable all to participate, at a level aligned with their current capabilities and future aspirations. Municipalities can therefore choose at what level they would like to participate (basic, intermediate or advanced) and migrate accordingly. Performance Indicators and Resources for all six introductory MBI modules (i.e. Water Conservation and Demand Management, Backlogs and Service Delivery, Human Resource and Skills Development, Operations and Maintenance, Product Quality and Financial Management) are all available on Munibench.

Munibench aims to support benchmarking activities through allowing performance measurement (provision of facilities for data input, comparison of Performance Indicators (PIs) via appropriate dashboards, etc.) and performance improvement (provision of access to material associated with shared learnings, peer networks, case studies, guidelines, methodologies/techniques, training, etc.). Munibench contains a ”shopping list” of South African appropriate PIs (ranging in “difficulty” from basic, to intermediate and advanced). Munibench also allows users to add their own site specific PIs (if desired).  During municipal interactions, the MBI team have encouraged all municipalities to start basic (less is more), decide “what are the issues I want to initially concentrate on”, entrench such basic participation, and then expand as suites themselves. The Munibench system is initially populated with data from other databases/stakeholders (including the Department of Water and Sanitation, National Treasury, StatsSA, Demarcation Board and Water Research Commission), resulting in a core set of PIs being generated for all municipalities

This process aims to initially limit input of “raw data” by municipalities with the hope that municipalities will be enabled to already engage with data and prompt peer based discussions. Better capacitated municipalities (as demonstrated by the Cities Working Groups) are able to monitor and track additionally selected relevant PIs, and discuss and compare these outcomes with peers.

The Munibench will continue to develop and evolve based on users’ feedback and identified needs. On-going and continuous feedback is required to ensure that all identified issues are resolved, and that new features/functions required by users can be prioritised and addressed in a structured manner. The MBI Team have taken note of Munibench-related comments to date, and will continue to prioritise and address the noted issues and the on-going need for new features/functions in the next project period.

Recently, Munibench has been expanded to accommodate the ability to benchmark both the (1) energy/electricity, and (2) waste management sectors.

Munibench can easily be adapted to suit the needs of your particular sector/industry. All we need is your knowledge to help us define your variables and performance indicators. Once this is set-up, we source and add available data to populate your benchmarking system!

If you would like to utilize the existing Munibench, or would like to customize use of Munibench to meet your needs, please contact us.

For further information on the MBI or Munibench, please contact us.

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