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Ensuring success now and in future

A SUCCESSFUL organisation needs good entrepreneurs, managers and leaders. It needs a good strategy, inspiration, purpose and strong execution. This is what business excellence is about. It helps an organisation to assess its strategies, strengthen its execution and secure its future by taking a comprehensive approach to foster strong management practices for sustainable growth.

Business excellence starts with understanding an organisation's operating context and looking for alignment and coherence between its strategic goals and its internal competencies and systems.

An organisation needs to consider the following:

  • What is your organisation trying to achieve?
  • Who are the customers and stakeholders? 
  • What is the industry you are operating in and what are the emerging trends (e.g. regulations and technologies)?
  • Who are your competitors and what are their relative strengths?
  • What is your employment profile and competencies?
  • Who are your partners and suppliers and what are their competencies?
  • What are your challenges, threats, strengths and opportunities?

Each organisation operates differently. For example, the rise of social media and e-commerce are some trends for retailers to consider to be able to continuously engage with their customers whereas in manufacturing, the need to balance rising costs and stringent customer requirements calls for a keen focus on operational excellence.

Knowing the organisation's context sets the tone and helps the organisation to establish its management structure and prioritise its execution strategies. This is done by looking at the pillars of business excellence - leadership, customers, strategy, people, processes and knowledge - to achieve the desired results (see Figure 1).

The Business Excellence framework details nine attributes of excellence of a high performing organisation:

1. Leading with vision and integrity

2. Creating value for customers

3. Driving innovation and productivity

4. Developing  organisational capability

5. Valuing people and partners

6. Managing with agility

7. Sustaining outstanding results

8. Adopting an integrated perspective

9. Anticipating the future. 

The focus among the different attributes will depend on what matters most to each organisation and what it is trying to achieve. For example, in markets with short product or service lifecycles, driving innovation and managing with agility will be key.

Good results today do not guarantee success tomorrow. The Business Excellence framework was enhanced in 2014 with a stronger focus on governance, customer-centricity and future readiness, and the strategic role of human capital and technology in enabling organisational innovation and renewal.

The focus on continuous learning and innovation encourages organisations to keep pace and stay competitive in the constantly changing operating environment.

Filtec Private Limited, a homegrown company that specialises in filtration products, lubricants, batteries and heavy-duty diesel engine spare parts, achieved the Singapore Quality Class certification using the enhanced Business Excellence framework. Its managing director, Jimmy Neo, shared that "adopting the enhanced Business Excellence framework enabled Filtec to sharpen our focus and approach to achieving our strategic goals and to continue to attract and develop talent within the company.  The framework puts in place a holistic way for Filtec to plan, execute, review and refine our business practices to continue to deliver high performing results". 

A Business Excellence impact study conducted in 2014 by Professor Jochen Wirtz of the National University of Singapore Business School showed that private-sector organisations that have been certified to BE standards achieved higher profit growth. 

The study found that between 2008 and 2012, the profit of organisations certified to BE standards grew an average of 14.1 per cent, double that of their industry peers, which grew at a 6.9 per cent average. In particular, organisations on the journey for five to 10 years performed best in terms of revenue and profit growth. They achieved 7.5 per cent revenue growth compared to the 5.4 per cent industry average, and a remarkable 25.5 per cent growth in profits against the industry's 6.3 per cent.

The business excellence initiative is positioned as a journey of continuous improvement for organisations striving for superior and sustainable performance. There are nine certification and award programmes to recognise organisations that have achieved different levels and types of excellence (see Figure 2).

Depending on the organisations' focus (people innovation, service or overall management and execution), they can apply for any  business excellence certifications year round. The business excellence awards, on the other hand, runs on an annual cycle.  Award applications are open from Oct 15, 2015, to March 31, 2016. Award recipients will be announced in October 2016. 

Assessments for the BE certifications and awards are conducted by assessors who are industry practitioners from BE-certified organisations or award winners.  They volunteer their time for the assessment process. They conduct assessments for the business excellence awards and certifications which involve evaluating the applications, conducting site visits and preparing feedback reports.  

A typical assessment at the certification level lasts one day.  The senior management team of the applicant organisation will share their organisation's strategic directions, management practices and systems and results achieved with the assessment team. The team, comprising two to four assessors, will also meet different groups of employees and conduct observations on-site.

Assessments at the award level follow a similar format, but will take place over two to four days, depending on the size of the applicant organisation and the complexity of its operations. 

All organisations that have been assessed are given feedback reports to help them identify their strengths as well as opportunities for improvement.

During the assessments, business excellence assessors share their observations of the applicants' management practices and systems, as well as practices from their own organisations and other award winners.

The assessors also have the opportunity to learn about the good practices of other organisations and how they address the challenges they face in their business. This knowledge is useful for the assessors in helping their own organisations on the business excellence journey.

  • This article is contributed by Spring Singapore. For further assistance on using the BE framework or applying for certifications and awards, please contact Spring at tel: 6279 3811, e-mail: be@spring.gov.sg or visit: www.spring.gov.sg/be

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