Municipal Benchmarking Network Canada is a partnership between Canadian municipalities who believe in the power of measurement to inspire continuous improvement in the delivery of services to our communities.
Partner municipalities identify and collect consistent and comparable data on their municipal service areas, report the findings annually and analyze those results to see how they measure up. But data is only the start.
Partners use the network to discuss results and share their practices and strategies. It often starts with a question—Why did we get these results? How can we improve? What does your program look like?—and ends with collaboration on creative solutions to improve performance.
Partners have used data to support Council decisions, set policy, inform reviews, evaluate programs, support budget recommendations, identify trends, and develop data dashboards. Some municipalities make their data accessible to everyone through open data policies and programs.
“MBNCanada offers historical, structured data and definitions,
plus a formalized process to submit, gather and store data.
That’s its value. If you don’t measure, you can’t improve.”
MBNCanada’s Board consists of the CAO or City Manager from each partner municipality. Municipal Leads, Expert Panel members and Financial Advisory Panel members are staff from partner municipalities who provide leadership, determine measures, and offer expertise on service areas. The program office oversees the program infrastructure and coordinates all program activities.
MBNCanada’s benchmarking framework includes four types of measures: community impact, service level, efficiency and customer service. The first two evaluate “what we do”—basically Council’s decisions. The second two evaluate “how well we do it”—in essence, staff’s delivery of the service. There are a total of 750 measures. Most of the 37 service areas have between 8 and 15 measures each.
Partners tell us that participating in MBNCanada helps them understand what’s happening now, predict what’s around the corner, strengthen accountability, improve transparency, objectively evaluate service efficiency and effectiveness, provide credible fact-based data to support informed decision-making by Council and staff, and see how they compare to other communities.
To enhance municipal service delivery by leading the development and application of municipal performance measurement and benchmarking.
Municipal Benchmarking Network Canada, as a collaborative of Canadian municipalities, will contribute to the public trust and confidence in municipal government with its progressive benchmarking framework and forums for the exchange of ideas.
Respect and support
In 1998, five CAOs and City Managers came together with a common interest in municipal performance measurement. They researched more than 50 benchmarking initiatives from around the world, decided on a model, wrote a project charter, established a project office—and the Ontario Municipal CAO’s Benchmarking Initiative (or OMBI, as it was affectionately known) was born.
During the first few years, they developed a 7-step benchmarking model, data sharing protocol, indirect costing methodology, data warehouse, and published reports on a limited number of service areas without identifying the municipality. OMBI’s 2006 report was a big milestone: it identified the data from each of the 15 participating municipalities for the first time. From that point forward, public reports were issued annually for 37 service areas.
By the end of 2015, OMBI had undergone some significant changes. In 2013, it became a permanent program with its own board of directors. Between 2009 and 2015, it welcomed four partners from outside Ontario. It was time for a new name to reflect this new status—and Municipal Benchmarking Network Canada was unveiled at the Spring Forum in April 2016.
In 1998, five CAOs and
City Managers came
together with a common
interest in municipal
Each year, MBNCanada publishes a performance measurement report for public consumption. The report currently reports on 36 service areas with the intent of ‘telling a story’ and informing readers about the services provided within their municipality and how they compare to others. The report describes the service and provides a list of influencing factors that must be considered when reviewing MBNCanada results. Although the purpose of the report is not to highlight any one partner, rationale is provided to clarify results and identify anomalies or outliers.
Consultants, academics, policy makers and municipalities from across Canada and the world contact MBNCanada for information on our model, membership and more. If you’re interested in learning more about our program, contact the program office.
“I love those moments when an expert panel is really engaged and is taking the discussion beyond the data. It’s so interesting to see that Montréal is doing one thing, Hamilton is doing something different, but we’re all in this together.”