Business Excellence For Regional Competitiveness

Business Excellence Quality Awards have in recent years gained popularity within the region, often championed by national bodies to promote quality and best business practices. Whilst the awards themselves are secondary in importance to the prevalent adoption of the business excellence concept, the ultimate aim is to improve national economic performance as a whole.The most popular Business Excellence model in the world is the Malcolm Baldrige Award. This was first introduced by the US government in 1987. It represents the use of quality management principles and tools in business management to realize systematic enhancement of business performance, based on the principles of customer focus, stakeholder value and process management.The majority of organizations use these models to identify improvement opportunities and ideas for future organizational development. For example, users of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model do so for multiple of reasons; including self-assessment, strategy development and business management.The Middle East has recognized the benefits of the business excellence model and embraced it, this is demonstrated by the fact that a number of national establishments have in recent years launched national Business Excellence Awards e.g. the King Abdulaziz Quality Award (KAQA) in Saudi Arabia. Such awards can raise awareness of quality and stimulate positive attitudes towards adopting best business practices that address the needs of all stakeholders of organizations.Key practices in business excellence applied across functional areas in an organization include continuous and quantum leap improvements, preventative management and management by the analysis of facts and figures. Some of the tools employed are the balance scorecard, the Six Sigma statistical tools, Process Management and Project Management.Business excellence as described by the EFQM refers to outstanding business practices in managing the organization and accomplishing results, based on basic concepts such as results orientation, customer focus, leadership and constancy of purpose, management by processes and facts, people involvement and development, continuous learning, innovation, partnership development and social responsibility.Business excellence encourages the use of best business practice in areas where its impact will be most beneficial to performance. Its criteria can identify the strengths and weaknesses of management practice, for example benchmarking could be used to identify gaps and the best way to bridge them. Understanding the complementary relationship between business excellence models, best practices and benchmarking are fundamental to the success of these models as tools of continuous improvement.The national business excellence award program helps regional organizations improve their business performance and possibly command a leading position in product or process quality. This results in improved competitiveness and productivity growth. Such a program also raises awareness of quality costs which if poorly managed can be a significant proportion of product cost. Improved quality of products and services is synonymous with improved productivity, lower costs and increased profitability.The implementation of such a program at a national level results in an improved business leadership commitment to excellence in manufacturing and services, which is becoming more and more essential to the national economy and its ability to compete effectively in the global market place. As a result of participation, commitment to excellence becomes an integrated part of the strategic planning process of the organization.Business Excellence benefits all regional organizations, irrespective of their type, size and sector, as the concept of quality improvement is equally applicable to small and large companies, to ‘for-profit’ and charitable organizations, to service industries as well as manufacturing, and to the public sector as well as private enterprises. Enhanced management understanding of the operation, workforce involvement in quality, combined with placing greater emphasis on statistical process control results in spectacular improvements in the cost and quality of products and services.Business excellence quality awards help to improve quality and productivity by (a) stimulating regional companies to improve quality and productivity which in turn results in a competitive edge; (b) recognizing the achievements of those companies that improve the quality of their products and services and are role models to others; (c) establishing guidelines and criteria that can be used by business, industrial and governmental in evaluating their quality improvement efforts; and (d) providing specific guidance for other organizations that wish to learn how to manage for high quality by publicizing how winning organizations are able to achieve excellence.To promote wider participation in the business excellence quality award across the region, respective government institutions need to take a more proactive role in educating their business community on the importance of quality. As a member of the KAQA Award winning team for the industrial manufacturing sector last year, the author strongly believes that business excellence makes commercial sense, is a means to sustained growth in revenue and profitability and a sure way to regional competitiveness