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Bad marking

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technical & practice - feedback

I read with interest your feature on Bench Marking (sic) (AJ 16.1.03).

Apart from some self-congratulatory remarks about how valid the survey was because 'the proportion of large practices [taking part] increased', it was a reasonably interesting assessment, although there were some unscientific leaps.

'Cause and effect' is essential in measuring systems, but what the benchmark survey showed was more 'effect and assumption'.

'The authors believe that there is a clear correlation between low expenditure on training and low profitability'. Do they indeed? In this assessment, 'low' is defined as 'below average' and their profitability level is assessed as 'below the average for their combined measure of profit', which we are told is a measurement developed by the authors as 'the most even-handed way of measuring profit'. Really?

Staff leave for 'more opportunities'. This is, apparently, in the words of the authors, a damning indictment of career development within the original practice. But surely that is why anybody leaves. Have you ever heard of someone leaving for 'fewer opportunities'? I would see it as a positive reflection on the employer that staff have retained their aspirations.

Even though there are many other examples of false (or rather, unproven) assumptions within this survey report - I have not read the full document - the authors seem amazed by the fact that staff prefer wages to fringe benefits. They also cite a 4:1 ratio of interviews per job offer as time consuming, but I was surprised at the low number of applications compared with just ten years ago. And, shock horror, partners are exceeding another arbitrary benchmark of the number of chargeable hours the report's authors say they should work.

Surprise, surprise, the end result of the report is that more time should be spent on - not more wages, better systems, brighter staff, higher fees, more relaxed timescales - but, wait for it, marketing. Rather than concentrating on having something to offer, simply 'marketing' yourself is the answer in today's branded world. Would the authors be from a marketing background by any chance?

Patrick Simonside Architectural technologist

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