Information technology benchmarking approaches, parameters and challenges in universities in Kenya
Information Technology is increasingly becoming a strategic and competitive tool in Kenyan higher education. With so much expectation resting on the IT function, the aspect of comparison or benchmarking with other institutions is critical for continuous improvement. This study focused on IT benchmarking in universities in Kenya. The objectives were to establish how IT benchmarking is understood and practiced, approaches and methodologies adopted, parameters considered important, and challenges encountered in implementation. Six public and private universities were considered. Questionnaires were used as data collection tools. Respondents were drawn from divisions of the IT function of these universities. Data was analyzed using frequency distribution, mean, standard deviation, factor analysis, and results presented in tabular formats. Results indicate that Kenyan Universities interpret IT benchmarking in purely qualitative terms, which is the use of quantifiable parameters as reference points for comparisons. Research findings also reveal that Kenyan Universities mostly adopt external benchmarking but experiment with other approaches on a need basis. User satisfaction and operational parameters are considered most important, whereas financial parameters are least used. Best-practice parameters are used in isolated cases or on a needs basis. Availability of benchmarking peers, data availability, resource constraints, and lack of management support emerged as the leading challenges in the implementation of IT benchmarking. Research findings might have been affected by the limited scope of universities sampled, or limited historical data for reference. More research work is needed to give more insight on the subject of IT benchmarking in Kenyan Universities.