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Striving to reach the pinnacle

New initiatives under the Business Excellence framework aim to help companies in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

"Feedback from the manufacturing industry validates operational excellence as a key driver for business growth and competitiveness," says Spring Singapore's Choy Sauw Kook

IN today's increasingly competitive landscape, enterprises need to boost their business performance in order to address the challenges of high labour costs and low productivity. With this goal in mind, government agency Spring Singapore has announced partnerships with the construction and manufacturing industries - sectors that are among the most affected by Singapore's ongoing economic structuring.

These initiatives are part of Spring's Business Excellence (BE) framework - a detailed roadmap for organisations to attain higher levels of performance. The BE has benefited some 1,500 local organisations since its launch in 1994.

For the manufacturing sector, Spring now offers firms a way to leverage the BE platform to improve their processes and culture in order to deliver Operational Excellence to customers.

Operational excellence in today's business environment not only involves delivering efficiency and quality, but also managing the supply chain across the board - from procurement and production to materials management and delivery. According to Spring, these are qualities that large enterprises and multinational corporations (MNCs) in Singapore look for in suppliers that they can trust to deliver consistent results.

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"Feedback from the manufacturing industry validates operational excellence as a key driver for business growth and competitiveness. It is important for companies to strengthen their management fundamentals to gain trust and confidence in their customers," says Choy Sauw Kook, Spring's assistant chief executive (Quality & Excellence).

Industry players, meanwhile, applauded the scheme as a means to improve the sector's overall productivity.

"It is a great initiative and I look forward to seeing more companies coming on board to enhance their capability. Through the adoption of best practices and consistency in processes, we will be confident of the quality of the products and services offered by our suppliers," says ST Marine's chief operating officer Lim Nian Hua.

Spring also partnered the Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association (Speta) to develop a diagnostic toolkit for precision engineering SMEs to enhance their competencies and capabilities. The toolkit encompasses the fundamentals of business excellence and the stringent requirements MNCs and large organisations impose on their suppliers.

"The Operational Excellence diagnostic toolkit will help our members and precision engineering companies to take stock of their operational health, embark on projects to level up and stay competitive," says Jeremy Fong, chairman of Speta.

A network of industry experts has also been established to guide SMEs in diagnosing and strengthening capabilities in operational excellence.

Meanwhile, Spring and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) are working together to help the local construction sector reach new levels of performance. This initiative includes an integrated assessment of both the Business Excellence and ISO 9001 standards, which previously were conducted separately.

The ISO 9001 for quality management systems standards is required by the BCA for medium and large-sized companies to be registered in the Contractors Registration System. The system is used for procurement purposes by government departments, statutory bodies and other public sector organisations.

"The built environment is currently faced with internal and external challenges. Quality management practices are key considerations to ensure productivity, sustainability and to achieve industry health, safety and environmental standards," says Ms Choy. "The BE-ISO 9001 integrated assessment allows companies to go beyond meeting industry needs and helps them in their journey towards achieving superior performances and surpassing industry benchmarks."

Tiong Seng Contractors is an example of a company that has benefited from being both an ISO and BE-certified organisation. The construction company won BCA's Built Environment Leadership Award (Platinum) in 2011 and the Singapore Quality Award in 2013.

"Tiong Seng strives for the pinnacle of excellence by adopting international standards, such as ISO 9001, to ensure robust quality management processes, and by adopting the Business Excellence framework to align strategic directions throughout the organisation," says Pek Lian Guan, chief executive officer of Tiong Seng Holdings.

"In today's world, one needs to integrate rigour and innovation to stay ahead. These elements are well embraced through the integration of both ISO 9001 and the Business Excellence framework. The integrated assessment provides companies a comprehensive approach towards attaining high quality standards, building capabilities and developing sustainable long-term plans to work towards achieving outstanding performances."

Organisations looking for inspiration in their BE journeys can turn to four exemplary enterprises that clinched the top honours at this year's Business Excellence Awards. The two homegrown brands and two public sector agencies were recognised for their commitment towards the BE framework and for achieving outstanding business performance.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore and the Singapore Civil Defence Force were conferred the Singapore Quality Award with Special Commendation. It is the highest accolade, recognising organisations that have achieved the pinnacle of business excellence.

Meanwhile, Jumbo Group of Restaurants was awarded the People Excellence Award and Sheng Siong Group was conferred the Innovation Excellence Award in recognition of their exceptional performance in the respective categories.

They will receive their trophies from Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran at the Business Excellence Awards Ceremony on Oct 14.

According to Spring, all four winners share a visionary leadership committed to innovation, people development and customer-centric excellence, which resulted in greater productivity and business growth. They will join the ranks of 100 past Business Excellence Award winners.