Key features of credible benchmarking studies

  1. Scope and intention of the study are clearly defined

  2. Conformity of selected certification schemes with respect to scope, relevant market segments/ market relevance, chain of custody option, coverage of the supply chain etc. (to avoid comparing "apples and pears")

  3. Mutually agreed set of criteria between systems and institutions performing the benchmarking
    (to avoid selection of a set of criteria with a 1:1 fit for just one system)

  4. Open and transparent evaluation process
    (i.e. benchmarked party can comment and receives a feedback on comments both for drafts and final results, diverging evaluations are documented)

  5. Clearly defined and mutually exclusive criteria and indicators with a transparent definition of the fulfilment levels and required evidence

  6. Transparency and comprehensibility of the evaluation findings for each criteria and indicator

  7. Membership in organizations which may require compliance with a set of these criteria does not substitute criteria evaluation or is chosen as a criteria

  8. Implementation of good working practice
    (e.g. reliable research process and inclusion of all relevant documents, assessment and evaluation of the certification system based on facts and not on assumptions or opinions, review process to avoid factual errors)

  9. Impartialness and independence of the institution performing the benchmarking