Finding the right (development) path

In my role as an EFQM expert (European Foundation for Quality Management), I work on issues related to the further development of management systems in various contexts. For many years now, the trend has been toward integrated management systems that cover not only quality but also environmental (occupational) safety and IT security. The underlying ISO standards virtually all follow Annex SL (Guidance for the Development and Revision of ISO Standards) and this in turn builds upon Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA cycle) in a classic way.

The EFQM model additionally emphasizes the need to consider all stakeholders – and not only the customers – in a balanced way. This consideration includes not only economic success but also the assumption of appropriate social responsibility.

Who applies the EFQM model in practice?

If you look at the winners of the State Award for Corporate Quality, you can see the different sectors in which the Excellence approach is being successfully implemented. In addition to many manufacturing companies, service organizations also readily apply the Excellence approach. For example, organizations in the field of employment services have joined forces across Europe to form the PES Network (European Public Employment Services), a network that uses benchlearning to promote the further development of its members. The following experiences from the application of different quality models are shown:

  • Feedback from important stakeholders (including customers, employees, authorities, society) helps to improve satisfaction through targeted measures
  • Looking at one’s own organization in the ecosystem reveals the relevant influences of the context (outside-in) and encourages contributions to the environment (inside-out). (e.g. for the company or also the supply chain)
  • The EFQM model verifies the consistency between the alignment, implementation and the achieved results – thus closing the strategic loop
  • Using the fundamentally same model promotes comparability and allows learning from each other. The basis for this is also the use of standardized language (e.g., coordinated definitions of terms) and the common basic understanding
  • The excellence approach enables a view of almost all facets of the organization and allows strengths and potentials to be identified. It serves as a stimulating guide for deriving improvement measures
  • The question of the use of resources for carrying out a self-assessment according to EFQM must be taken into account. An appropriate (hourly) budget is required, as is support from top management, in order to ensure the sustainable implementation of the excellence approaches in the organization. Here the living example counts

Support in choosing the right model for you

There are different issues to consider when developing the business quality of your organization. Your attitude or communication culture should be open and include some level of reflectiveness – then strengths and learning areas can be addressed. Choose a model that fits your knowledge, maturity level, alignment, culture and industry of the organization:

  • Newcomers can start with a self-assessment, although simple maturity models are easier to apply Practitioners prefer an external EFQM assessment including feedback from external assessors or experts
  • Starters may use simplified model (e.g., public sector organizations like to use CAF Common Assessment Framework – because the requirements of what excellence or maturity means are clearly described and “translated” for the sector). Experts use more “open” models such as EFQM to broaden the view and to find individual interpretations of the requirements or to give more room for own solutions
  • Newcomers can initially focus on the needs of customers (e.g. with ISO 9001), experts try to meet the expectations of all key stakeholders (e.g. ISO 9004 or EFQM)
  • Novices can also complete an assessment without taking a self-image: Learning then takes place during the site visit and on the basis of the feedback report. Experts describe their organization and provide the document to assessors prior to the site visit. Learning already starts with the creation of this self-image, different perspectives are brought together, gaps in terms of criteria or their implementation become immediately visible

As you can see, there are many options and variants. Let us advise you and find the right way together. Because the path towards high corporate quality brings success and ensures an excellent and sustainable future!


Event Tip:
Experience Austria’s excellent companies up close at the award ceremony of the
Staatspreis Unternehmensqualität 2022, on June 22 at Palais Wertheim in Vienna.


With excellent regards
Johann Sauermann


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