| Primary purpose
Who can use the tool?
What resources are needed?
Development, ownership and support
Third sector examples
Further sources of information
European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model
The European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model, is a self-assessment framework for measuring the strengths and areas for improvement of an organisation across all of its activities. The term ‘excellence’ is used because the Excellence Model focuses on what an organisation does, or could do, to provide an excellent service or product to its customers, service users or stakeholders.
While its origins lie in the private sector, public and voluntary sector organisations can also benefit from using the Excellence Model. It is non-prescriptive and does not involve strictly following a set of rules or standards, but provides a broad and coherent set of assumptions about what is required for a good organisation and its management. Each organisation can use it in its own way to manage and develop improvement, under the control of those who use the methods rather than an external evaluator.
The Model starts with the following premise:
Customer 1 Results, People Results and Society results are achieved through Leadership driving Policy and Strategy, People, Partnerships and Resources leading ultimately to excellence in Key Performance Results.
Figure 1: The Excellence Model Framework
There are nine ‘big ideas’ or criteria in the Model that underpin this premise and attempt to cover all an organisation’s activities. These nine ideas are separated into Enablers and Results. The Enabler criteria are concerned with how the organisation conducts itself, how it manages its staff and resources, how it plans its strategy and how it reviews and monitors key processes. They are:
The organisation’s Results are what it achieves. These encompass the level of satisfaction among the organisation’s employees and customers, its impact on the wider community and key performance indicators. They are:
Each of the nine criteria is subdivided to describe in more detail the concept of ‘Excellence’ in that area and to examine how well an organisation is doing through a list of practical questions to ask itself. The starting point for most organisations is to gather evidence relevant to the nine criteria of the Model. This involves asking, for each of the criteria, ‘How good are we and how could we improve?’ Evidence may take a variety of forms depending upon the organisation.
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) suggests that each organisation will need to find a method for using the framework that suits them best.
They give examples of:
Once this self assessment exercise has been initiated, the organisation can take action to improve its performance with help from the guidance contained in the Model’s relevant publications or further training in the area that needs improvement.
The British Quality Foundation (BQF) has also developed a software tool called ‘BQFsnapshot’ that will run on most Windows-based computers. It is intended to provide a quick and simple way of finding out how your organisation measures up to the characteristics of Excellence.
Although most organisations concentrate on improving their performance using the Model, it is possible to ‘score’ performance against the criteria, providing an internal benchmark of improvement over a period of time.
The Excellence Model has wide applicability to organisations in all sectors, of any size, in all stages of development. It can be used in a bite-sized format or for organisations seeking to understand some or all of their activities.
It is possible for the Excellence Model to be facilitated by one individual. Many organisations that have used the Excellence Model often form a small cross-functional team (3–4 people) to lead. Good relationships with staff will ease the process as they are likely to be involved in some fashion in undertaking the Excellence Model. In keeping with its ‘Leadership’ criterion, active involvement of the management and senior figures in an organisation will be required.
Proficiencies or skills
These will vary depending on how the organisation approaches the Excellence Model. In general no specialist skills are required although many organisations seek outside training for staff in using the framework or choose to engage an external facilitator to guide the process. Strategic thinking and analytical skills will be useful. Familiarity with software packages will enable the organisation to use BQFsnapshot for working through the Excellence Model, but this is optional.
Once learnt, self-assessment against the Excellence Model can be completed very quickly – within days for a very basic assessment. However, as a diagnostic tool it highlights areas for action and the time needed to address those action points will vary among organisations and may take several months. Organisations can involve paid and voluntary staff, service users, customers and other stakeholders in the process.
Part of the logic behind the Excellence Model is regular assessment and review. Some users conduct annual assessments as part of their ‘business planning’ process.
Courses, support, and information
The BQF website contains a list of advisors, consultants and opportunities for sharing best practice as well as several publications and reports.4Two publications – How to use the Excellence Model and The model in practice (containing 96 new case studies from private, public and small organisations using the Excellence Model) – can be bought for around £15 and £28 respectively. The website also contains information on the annual UK Business Excellence Awards based on assessment against the Excellence Model.
BQF has advisers who have been trained and approved to act on its behalf. Any requests for help, advice or guidance by email, telephone, or letter are passed through to the Endorsed Adviser Network. Advisers will not charge for the first consultation with an organisation. For further consultation, a private arrangement with an adviser can be made.
BQF run a series of comprehensive one-day workshops for members and non-members. Each workshop costs around £125 + VAT for members and around £250 + VAT for non members. 5
Part of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) is dedicated to the publication, Excellence in view: A guide to the EFQM Excellence Model for the voluntary sector, which contains eight case studies written by medium and large organisations that have used the Model www.ncvo-vol.org.ukRegional Excellence Organisations also provide a service called beta™ (Business Excellence Through Action). Based on the Excellence Model, beta™ is a tool for smaller businesses and those who are less familiar with the Excellence Model. It aims to bring the benefits of the Excellence Model to an organisation without the difficulties in learning the language and costs in setting up.6
The European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) owns the intellectual property of the Excellence Model. It is a not-for-profit membership foundation based in Brussels and was set up in 1989 by the CEOs of large European businesses.
In the UK, BQF promotes the Model. BQF is one of EFQM’s European national partner organisations (NPOs) that cover Europe. BQF and EFQM update the Model periodically with input from organisations within and without Europe.
Organisations that have used the Excellence Model:
Paton, R. (2003) Managing and Measuring Social Enterprises, (London: Sage)
Provides a review of quality models, including the EFQM Excellence Model, its background, method, benefits and limitations.
1 The Excellence Model defines ‘customer’ as “Anyone outside the organisation who receives products, services, or some other benefit form it, such as service users, clients, beneficiaries, members, funders, the general public, other services, stakeholders, and targeted groups.”
2 Those results, not covered by Customer, People and Society that it is imperative for the organisation to achieve.
3 EFQM describes this as “managers and leaders set up ways of working that get everyone involved in never-ending improvement in the meeting of internal and external customers’ needs”.
6 More information about beta™ can be found at: www.cforc.org/organisationalreview/beta.htm
“A lot of the success of the model is in changing the way people think, looking for links between ‘Results’ and ‘Enablers’ outside ‘formal Self-Assessment’ and realising the Model can make a difference.”
— Thames Reach
‘The whole process of collecting data and consultation to formulate an action plan took no more than 35 hours within a four or five month period”
— Liverpool Personal Services Society
“Using the beta™ materials as part of the Excellence Model, we identified ways to make significant improvement in how CEU organizes and delivers its services. We believe this has led to efficiencies and clarity of purpose, both internally and with our stakeholders. There is, of course, still more to do!”
— Community Enterprise Unit Ltd