FAQs – benchmarking tool

Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the benchmarking phase of ACU Measures. These serve as a quick guide to the initial processes, and can be supplemented by our thorough Guide to ACU Measures benchmarking tool (.pdf).


Question: Who can access the benchmarking tools?

Answer: Member universities need to indicate who is authorised to access benchmarking on ACU Measures. This is to ensure that only the right people can see the data. Contact details should be sent to measures@acu.ac.uk, including the name, email address and job title of the user you would like to add.

A ‘Viewer’ is a user who is authorised to run benchmarking reports on their institution, and a 'Respondent' is authorised to complete surveys – one user can have both roles assigned to his/her account. All 'Viewers' will receive an email informing them when ACU Measures is open for benchmarking in July. 

All senior management staff have ‘Viewer’ accounts so that they can log in and view their institution’s results, run reports, and create downloadable tables and graphs.

Please note: Access to data included in the Salaries and Benefits survey is reserved for users in participating institutions. 


Question: How do I access ACU Measures?

Answer: To access ACU Measures please go to: https://measures.acu.ac.uk. Your user name is your email address, e.g. measures@acu.ac.uk

Before you can log in to the system, you need to create a password. This is very straightforward – beneath the login box, you can set your own password by clicking on the link 'create a new one'. Enter your email and then the system will send you an email with a link to create your password.


Question: What types of benchmarking tools are available in ACU Measures?

Answer: Benchmarking consists of a set of tools to explore and analyse survey data. Menu options include:

  • Quick Reports
  • Slide Shows
  • Tables & Graphs
  • Report Writer
  • Sorted Lists
  • Crosstabs & Frequencies

You can learn more about each tool by going to it from the ‘Benchmarking’ menu and then clicking the ‘Help’ button (lower right corner of page), or see below for details of each tool.


Question: Getting started: how do I use ‘Comparison Groups’?

Answer: In order to compare your institution’s results to other institutions’ you need to set up ‘Comparison Groups’ (CGs). These are sets of institutions you use to generate reports that display your data in relation to ‘Comparison Group’ statistics.

You will find a set of ‘Public’ CGs at the bottom of the ‘Comparison Groups’ page, which is under the 'Benchmarking' menu. You do not need to copy them to your personal folder in order to use them. If there is a check next to the name of a CG, it will appear as an option in the drop-down list of CGs in each reporting tool. 

Important: You will be prevented from saving a CG if it is not comprised of at least eight institutions and if it does not differ by at least three institutions from every other CG you have access to. This is to protect the confidentiality of institutional data.

There are three different options for creating your new group:

  • New Group Wizard
  • New Group from Scratch
  • Combine Groups

Please refer to the instructions on the ‘Comparison Group’ page and to the 'Help' button (lower right corner of page), which details how to create CGs. For more details, download our Guide to ACU Measures benchmarking tool.


Question: What are ‘Quick Reports’ and how do I use them?

Answer: The ‘Quick Reports’ tool allows you to use your ‘Comparison Group’(s) with pre-designed data reports. There is no limit to the number of ‘Quick Reports’ that any authorised user account can create.

Click on ‘Quick Reports’ under the ‘Benchmarking’ menu and select the report you would like to create, e.g. ‘Multi-Rank Salary Report’. Choose your ‘Comparison Group’, year, and type of output (HTML, PDF, xls) and click on the ‘Go to Report’ button to see your report.


Question: What are ‘Slide Shows’ and how do I use them?

Answer: ‘Slide Shows’ (SS) are collections of the outputs generated by the benchmarking tools. A SS can present an effective analytical sequence that forms a comprehensive picture of large amounts of data. You will find a set of ‘Public’ SSs on the ‘Slide Shows’ page, which is under the ‘Benchmarking’ menu.

You can create a slide by saving the output of one of the benchmarking tools (‘Tables & Graphs’, ‘Report Writer’, etc.). There is an option in each output to ‘Save as slide’. This saves all the selections made to create that particular output. Later, when collected into a SS, a user can run the SS and change the ‘Comparison Group’(s) and years selected. The new selections will be applied to all the slides in the SS. Your institution’s data will be highlighted.

You or others at your institution can create SSs and share them. You can also create text slides which allow you to insert explanatory slides within a SS.


Question: What are ‘Tables & Graphs’ and how do I use them?

Answer: The ‘Tables & Graphs’ tool allows you to view one variable over time in relation to one or more comparison groups and your institution’s data. Your institution will be displayed automatically.

To create a table or graph, click on the ‘Add Comparison Group’ option to add the group(s) you want to compare your institution to. To choose which variable to compare your institution to, please click on the ‘Change variables’ option and choose from the drop-down menu. You can also choose the years you want to see data for by clicking on the ‘Edit’ link in the table and choosing the start and end year from the drop-down menus.

You can change the Group Statistics to show either Mean or Median values.

If currency data are being used, and there are mixed currencies between you and your CGs or within your CGs, all currency values will be converted to World Bank PPP values.

The tables and graphs you create can be saved as slides, which can be retrieved at a later stage. They can also be used in ‘Slide shows’. Saving a slide means saving all the selections made to create that particular output.


Question: What is ‘Report Writer’ and how do I use them?

Answer: The ‘Report Writer’ tool allows you to compare your data to one ‘Comparison Group’ for a single year for multiple variables. The benefit of this tool is that you can look at multiple variables at once.

Select the ‘Comparison Group’ from the drop-down menu (you can currently only pick one group) and select the year you want to see data for. You can then add variables using the drop-down menu. To display the variables, filter by ‘Numeric’ and the variable options will appear.


Question: What are ‘Sorted Lists’ and how do I use them?

Answer: The ‘Sorted Lists’ tool allows you to create a rank order of institutions in a ‘Comparison Group’ based on a quantitative variable you select. If your institution is in the ‘Comparison Group’, it will be highlighted. If you are rank ordering on a confidential variable, you will see all the data values but you will not see the names of the institutions.


Question: What are ‘Crosstabs & Frequencies’ and how do I use them?

Answer: The ‘Crosstabs & Frequencies’ tool allows you to summarise categorical data that have been collected via surveys.

You select the ‘Comparison Group’, the one or two variables of interest, and the year or two years of interest, and you will get either frequency counts if looking at one variable alone or a crosstab if you are looking at one variable in relation to another. You can specify a lot of frequency tables at once, e.g. all variables in a survey. You can only specify one crosstab at a time.


Question: How do I use tables and charts from ACU Measures in my own reports and documents?

Answer: 'Tables & Graphs’ has an ‘Easy copy’ option for tables that will give you a simply formatted table you can copy and paste to Word or Excel. Graphs cannot currently be copied and pasted to other documents but that feature should become available shortly.

‘Report Writer’ output has an ‘Export to CSV’ link at the bottom of the output page and the export can be opened in Excel.

‘Crosstabs & Frequencies’ can be readily copied and pasted.


Question: Can I save a benchmarking output as a PDF?

Answer: Yes! The simplest way is to have a PDF generator set up as a ‘Print to’ option on your computer. Then you can simply use your browser’s Print command to get the output into a PDF in full colour.


Question: What are ‘Downloads’ and why don’t they show my data?

Answer: As a general rule, ‘Downloads’ are static reports that summarise survey results. They will present only summary statistics for various sub-populations in the participant pool. Downloads can also be such items as user manuals and other reference materials not directly related to survey data.