Innovation and better management of your parks is achieved through the sharing of knowledge and information. Park managers developed Yardstick for the industry as a benchmarking tool to collect, share and compare vital information to measure current performance and drive future improvements.

Yardstick provides tools to collect and compare both management and user information.

  • The Benchmarks project reports on a wide range of information to identify asset provision, costs, service delivery, strategic planning and asset management best practice.
  • The Survey project identifies what is important to your user and how well you are meeting their expectations – it effectively measures the levels of service you are delivering, and identifies your service level gaps.


  • Identify, plan and improve your strategic goals and direction
  • Record your operation costs against a variety of criteria
  • Undertake financial performance reviews and cost estimating
  • Cost/benefit analysis with accurate and up to date information
  • Lobby for additional resources.
  • Drive asset management implementation and improvements
  • Evaluate your systems and performance
  • Develop parks strategies and levels of service
  • Inform service delivery reviews
  • Compare locally, nationally and internationally
  • Prioritise areas for improvement
  • Thoroughly understand your business, and the strengths and weaknesses of your operation.


  • Identify your park users community profile
  • Defines and reviews your levels of service based on accurate and reliable user research
  • Reliably reports on service performance based on industry benchmarks
  • Prioritise improvements and development programmes
  • Three research options in one project to capture the views of your park visitors:
    1. Intercept survey of park users
    2. Online self completion survey
    3. Door to door survey
  • Record user expectations and satisfaction to measure the gaps in levels of service.
  • Include your own specific questions to address specific issues
  • A network of organisations and professionals learning and improving from shared informations and common experience.

How it works


User Surveys

Key Benefits

  • moneybag

    Influences budgets

  • piechart

    Assists in prioritising allocation of financial resources

  • check

    Provides factual information that drives asset management and sustainable financial planning

  • activity

    Helps set, monitor, and manage performance measures

  • approve

    Is an unbiased, Independent assessment

  • users

    Assists in justifying additional resources

  • search

    Provides a research base for information on parks and open space provision, cost and management

  • chats

    Enables interaction with users and helps to identify expectations and satisfaction levels

  • “Yardstick allows us to benchmark our management and costs against similar sized Councils. This assists us to focus on areas of improvement and supports us in discussions with Council and community of service levels, expectations and costs.”

    — Erik van der Spek, Waitaki Disrict Council, New Zealand

  • “Yardstick provides our business with the ability to measure our performance against similar organisations. We can choose what organisations we want to benchmark against, considering criteria like population, location or size. It allows us to identify where we are achieving industry best practice and helps to priortise areas for improvement.”

    — Vikki Muxlow, Wellington City Council, New Zealand

  • “Yardstick provides a large volume of relevant and current information in an easily understood format.”

    — Ian Soper, Gore District Council, New Zealand

  • “Yardstick provides a means of independently measuring our performance at Rotorua against other similar organisations in a repeatable and cost effective way. This valuable industry tool provides an annual health check for our dynamic organisation and assists us in identifying areas where improvements can be made.”

    — Gary Page, Rotorua District Council, New Zealand

  • “Yardstick provides our council with reliable information on our performance compared with other councils of similar size and is a credible method of verifying our organizations standing as we are always striving to provide the best for our community.”

    — Robin Pagan, Invercargill City Council, New Zealand

  • “A benefit of joining Yardstick has been meeting and collaborating with the best people in the parks business – the project managers have been an invaluable resource in supporting & implementing asset management strategies in our organization.”

    — Todd Reichardt, City of Calgary, Canada

  • “The Yardstick program allows us to more effectively manage our parks system including benchmarking our progress towards providing better and more innovative responses to our customers’ needs and wants.”

    — David Ellis, City of Lethbridge, Canada

  • “The City of Victor Harbor has found Yardstick to provide an invaluable cross-section of our Parks Management and Provision. Yardstick is enabling us to better plan and manage our Open Space, to focus on areas where we are below “the norm”, and to justify rationalising areas where we are comparatively over-performing.”

    — Brian Doman, City of Victor Harbor, Australia

  • “Yardstick has proved to be a very valuable benchmarking tool for our parks management. Yardstick is also a valuable self-improvement tool, where we are seeking to improve our performance and cost effectiveness year on year.”

    — Mark Bowater, City of Auckland, New Zealand

  • “The Yardstick program has provided us with extremely beneficial information regarding a cost benefit analysis of your work processes. The costs are provided in a well-researched method that provides justifiable rationale for comparison purposes.”

    — Don Polinski, Strathcona County, Canada

  • “Yardstick lets us compare with similar organisations to see how we perform and how to improve, and gives us the opportunity to use the knowledge in a long-term strategy to improve the services we provide. Another benefit is that Yardstick provides a much wider professional network that assists with sharing information and documentation with colleagues across the globe.”

    — Martin Hojholt, City of Aarhus, Denmark

On-line Tools

Benchmarks online questionnaire

  • Secure questionnaire available online for self completion
  • Add access for unlimited number of additional staff
  • Detailed guidelines defining how each question should be answered, available from pop-up window right in the survey
  • Display previous years answers and notes at the click of a button
  • On site review by Yardstick auditors to ensure accuracy of information provided and credibility in the reported results 
  • Information collected identifies: Planning, asset management and service delivery best practice; park land and asset provision; costs and revenue with matched information to provide calculation of performance metrics; sustainability practices and community engagement and programs
  • Country specific questions, updated annually based on member feedback.

Benchmarks online reporting

  • All results available online
  • Detailed menus to quickly find the information you need
  • Select your own peer group for more accurate comparison
  • Select a specific organisation you wish to benchmark with.

Individual performance report

  • Provides a simple and quick overview of key results and performance
  • Key results provided in summary graphs
  • Includes peer group selection
  • Management performance assessed and scored against industry best practice
  • Printable format to share with others.

Visitor survey reporting

  • Group and individual results
  • Identifies who are using your parks assets (and by extension who isn't)
  • Importance and satisfaction of individual park services
  • Overall park satisfaction
  • Benchmark with other organisations to provide relevance and industry reference point to provide meaningful performance assessment.
  • Results are now available as an on-line report

The Parks Yardstick programme is currently operating in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark and Finland