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Reaching new heights of performance

The 2018 Business Excellence Award winners have been on a journey of improvement for nearly two decades.

The 24th BE Awards Ceremony was held on Oct 16 at Resorts World Sentosa Convention Centre. From left: Ang Hak Seng, chairman, Singapore Quality Award Management Committee; Png Cheong Boon, CEO, Enterprise Singapore; Low Khah Gek, CEO, Institute of Technical Education; Cheong Koon Hean, CEO, Housing & Development Board; Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry; Elaine Ng, CEO, National Library Board; Lee Ang Seng, MD, Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner (S.E.Asia); Cham Tao Soon, chairman, Singapore Quality Award Governing Council; Choy Sauw Kook, assistant CEO, Quality & Excellence Group, Enterprise Singapore.

REFLECTING their robust management systems and practices, each of the four winners at this year's Business Excellence (BE) Awards have been delivering superior performances as part of the BE initiative for close to 20 years.

The winners are engineering consultancy firm Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner (S.E.Asia), as well as three public sector organisations: National Library Board (NLB), Housing & Development Board (HDB) and Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

They received their awards from Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, at the 24th BE Awards Ceremony on Oct 16.

Award recipients are chosen from companies that have attained BE certifications, which are given out by Enterprise Singapore. Organisations are assessed on factors such as leadership, corporate governance and social responsibility, how they deal with both customers and their own employees, as well as how they leverage innovation.

First time-winner Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner, for instance, has made significant improvements in its management practices to become a leading people-focused organisation. The firm was honoured with the People Excellence Award. Meanwhile, HDB and ITE are the first two organisations to have won the Singapore Quality Award with Special Commendation (SQA SC) for a second time. Introduced in 2006, SQA SC is the most prestigious recognition under the BE Awards. To date, there have only been 11 winners of this award.

As for NLB, it is the first organisation to have won all BE Awards - the Singapore Quality Award (SQA), Innovation Excellence Award (IEA), People Excellence Award (PEA), Service Excellence Award (SEA) and, at this year's awards, the SQA SC. The BE Awards are conferred by the SQA Governing Council and administered by Enterprise Singapore.


Cham Tao Soon, chairman of the SQA Governing Council, said that embarking on the BE initiative allows organisations to assess which stage they are at on the excellence journey and what they need to do to achieve a higher level of performance.

Professor Cham noted the BE recognition also serves as a "Mark of Excellence" for an organisation's business partners, consumers, and employees. "Organisations that attain BE certifications are considered to have reached a high level of performance. The certifications help them distinguish themselves in the market and gain a competitive advantage. The recognition for the BE Award winners is even more pronounced. They are regarded as being in the ranks of the 'best of the best' organisations with exemplary management practices, superior performance and sustainable growth," he said.

A study conducted by the National University of Singapore in 2014 showed that organisations who have adopted the BE framework have improved their performance for customers and employees.

For SMEs, the BE initiative was instrumental in helping them to professionalise their management practices and achieve profit growth of 19.2 per cent, against the industry's average of 6.1 per cent. For public sector agencies, the BE initiative has become a means to enhancing their management systems and processes to drive change and deliver superior performance.

Since its introduction in 1994, the BE framework has undergone five major reviews to ensure that it remains relevant and useful to organisations pursuing continuous improvement and innovation. "In each of these reviews, we have taken into consideration the emerging organisational and business environment trends and threats, as well as priorities identified at the national and industry level," said Choy Sauw Kook, assistant chief executive officer (quality and excellence), Enterprise Singapore and SQA administrator.

For instance, to align itself with the national agenda on enhancing human capital management practices and continuous learning, Enterprise Singapore consulted with HR practitioners, lead associations and Workforce Development Agency (now Workforce Singapore) during the BE framework review in 2016 to ensure that the desired practices were incorporated for organisations.


In light of the growing importance of digital capabilities, Enterprise Singapore is currently working on incorporating the leading practices of the digital economy in the next review of the framework.

"In an ever-changing business landscape disrupted by technology and digital transformation, companies need to constantly review and adapt what they need to do to achieve a sustainable level of performance. The BE framework provides a tailored roadmap to help companies do so and overcome business challenges at the different phases of growth," said Png Cheong Boon, chief executive officer, Enterprise Singapore. "I strongly encourage organisations to leverage the BE framework to review their strategies and to develop capabilities to grow and be globally competitive."

Business Excellence Award categories

  • Singapore Quality Award (SQA)

The Award is presented to organisations which have demonstrated outstanding management capabilities, and delivered superior performance and results as benchmarked against the industry.

  • Singapore Quality Award with Special Commendation (SQA SC)

SQA SC recognises past SQA winners who have shown improvements in their performance and demonstrated global leadership in key business areas.

  • Innovation Excellence Award (IEA)

Launched in 2001, IEA recognises organisations for outstanding innovation management capabilities resulting in breakthrough or impactful innovations observed in areas such as business models, processes, and products and services.

  • People Excellence Award (PEA)

Launched in 2001, PEA is the highest accolade given to organisations that demonstrate excellent practices in people management, and have a strong culture that inculcates learning and development.

  • Service Excellence Award (SEA)

The SEA was returned to the umbrella of BE Awards in 2016. It recognises organisations that display superior management capabilities to drive and sustain service excellence.

2018 Business Excellence Award winners

  • Beca Carter Hollings & Ferner (S.E.Asia) - People Excellence Award
  • National Library Board - Singapore Quality Award with Special Commendation
  • Housing & Development Board - Singapore Quality Award with Special Commendation
  • Institute of Technical Education - Singapore Quality Award with Special Commendation

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