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Esteve Garriga

Quality Insider

European Foundation for Quality Management Award’s 2005+ Approach

Simpler and equally demanding

Published: Monday, May 8, 2006 - 22:00

The 2005+ approach is the system established to characterize and winnow the applicants for the 2006 European Award. Formerly instituted as the European Quality Award, this year it will be designated the 2006 EFQM European Award.The 2005+ approach doesn’t represent a change in the reference and tools to be used for the assessment—which is similar to the 2003 versions of the EFQM Excellence Model and the RADAR Scoring Matrix—nor of the output obtained (i.e., the feedback report). The changes involve how information will be submitted to the assessors and how the assessment process will be performed.

This new approach aspires to reduce the burden of a 75-page application document, allowing applicants to provide their information in a more friendly way, sometimes even using existing documents. This new document dynamic has decreased individual off-site work and given more weight to the team’s on-site tasks through the senior management team meeting and the site visit.

As shown in figure 1, this new approach also minimizes most of the concerns typically associated with the constraints of the classic approach. It centers the assessment on the most logical place: the organization being assessed. Spending enough time on the organization provides assessors with valuable inputs—such as the way people “live” excellence—that can only be acquired at the organization.The often-criticized traditional European penchant for theory and overanalysis—compared to the American hands-on spirit—is no longer applicable to the major Excellence awards on both sides of the Atlantic. The EFQM European Award’s process is much more interactive than that of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

The qualification phase
Applicants must first prove the suitability of their candidacy through the organizations’ progress toward excellence as indicated by their past applications, national and regional awards achieved, and the like; or through the submission of a qualification file of up to 15 pages. This qualification file demonstrates the organization’s qualifying score and serves as the first input the assessors consider.

The applying organization, in choosing the layout and space distribution that best suit its needs, must provide an overview of the results achieved across all of the subcriteria of the EFQM Excellence Model and must describe the environment in which they were obtained.

It’s critical for the assessors to receive a holistic view of the organization and of its strategic context to carry out an accurate assessment and produce value-adding feedback. So, after providing a brief overview of the organization and its circumstances—the mission and vision, what it does and for whom, key relationships with stakeholders, etc.—applicants must give additional details related to:

  • Organizational environments including history, values, geographical presence and people
  • Organizational relationships such as key stakeholders with their particular concerns and how they map to the results criteria, internal customer-supplier relationships, etc.
  • Competitive environment, including market positioning, its main customers’ needs and expectations, and distribution channels.
  • Main strategic challenges of the past, present and future
  • Performance improvement systems such as methods used and a description of the organization’s path toward excellence (prizes achieved, trend of assessment scores against the EFQM Excellence Model, etc.)

Figure 1

Concerning the results
The organization must provide a set of results for each of the EFQM Excellence Model subcriteria. By means of charts and tables, the information usually shows trends through three years or more revealing the achieved results and the targets, including, when possible, data related to competitors and “best in class” organizations that will be used for comparison purposes. Despite the importance of the numbers, it’s also critical to have a clear understanding of the rationale behind the results, the links among them, the enabling approaches, and the mission and vision statements. Remember that enablers and results have equal weight in determining the overall score, so achieving more than 500 points implies that the organization knows enough about the enabling approaches. It would also be a good idea to list results and enabling approaches that will be available to the assessors during the site visit.

The results and their scope are important, but the lists associated with the subcriteria of the EFQM Excellence Model should to be used as examples illustrating their contents, not as prescriptive checklists. Each organization must decide which elements are relevant.

Which approach—classic or 2005+?
The classic approach involves the preparation of an extensive application document to be processed as mentioned in figure 1. The 2005+ approach requires an enabler map of up to 10 pages, along with the updated qualification file.

Unlike the classic approach, where everything is detailed as much as possible to allow an accurate presite visit assessment, the enabler map’s main purpose is to complement the inputs for the assessors and to be a useful reference for the senior management team meeting and the site visit.

Using the layout and space distribution that best match the organization’s needs, the enabler map offers an overview of the approaches, how they map to the enabler criteria or subcriteria of the EFQM Excellence Model, how they link with the results of the qualification file, evidences available during the site visit, etc. Figure 2 is a possible layout for this document, including all of the required data.

Senior management team meeting
The previsit to the organization is performed by the lead assessor and at least one of the team members, who will interact with the organization’s senior management team. Planning for the site visit and establishing its priorities are the main objectives of this stage and the subsequent meeting of the whole assessor team, both based on a review of the results and the enablers’ data previously reported by the organization.

The site visit
As in the classic approach, the site visit is carried out by the full assessor team. The reference and tool to be used for the assessment and the output are also the same.

With the classic approach, the understanding of the organization—its overall performance and its specific circumstances—is based on the qualification file and the enabler map. Neither judgments nor scoring have been based on the organization’s strengths and areas for improvement, either individually or as a team.

Unlike the classic approach, which validates the data in the application, the 2005+ approach emphasizes the search for evidence of the information provided. This emphasis requires the assessors to have excellent auditing skills and implies a more challenging real-time task in identifying strengths and areas for improvement. The assessor team reaches a consensus only once, based on the scores and strengths and areas for improvement gathered during the site visit.

The feedback report, the main output of the assessment process, must clearly communicate the findings, add value to the organization by identifying strengths on which to build and areas in which to improve, as well as provide the organization with consistent scores useful for external benchmarking.

Despite the official opinion of the EFQM that the 2005+ approach is neither better nor worse than the classic one, it seems clear that the new approach considerably reduces the document burden, that it’s much more interactive and that it addresses most of the concerns associated with the constraints of the classic approach. As usual in these cases, time will clarify which approach the applicants prefer.

Figure 2


Finally, although a smaller documentary burden doesn’t imply less rigor, an accurate and concise text is sometimes harder to produce than an extensive one. Still, as 17th-century Spanish writer Baltasar Gracián said, “A good thing, if brief, twice good.”


About The Author

Esteve Garriga’s picture

Esteve Garriga

Esteve Garriga is responsible for quality assurance at RECAM LÀSER, S.L. which specializes in engineering, industrialization and manufacture of metallic products for the automotive, railway sector, and other industries. He has a broad experience in both the automotive industry and the food packaging sector concerning quality assurance and food safety.

Garriga was educated in business administration at EADA (Escuela de Alta Dirección y Administración) in Barcelona and specialized in quality at UPC (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya) in Barcelona.

He is a European Excellence Assessor by EFQM, ISTO certified via IQA, and is a member of the Spanish Association for Quality (AEC).