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How Organisations Use Business Excellence Models

Users of the EFQM Excellence Model, report that they do so for the following purposes:

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When used as a basis for an organisation’s improvement culture, the business excellence ‘criteria’ within the models broadly channel and encourage the use of best practices into areas where their effect will be most beneficial to performance. When used simply for self-assessment the ‘criteria’ can clearly identify strong and weak areas of management practice so that tools such as benchmarking can be used to identify best-practice to enable the gaps to be closed. These critical links between business excellence models, best practice, and benchmarking are fundamental to the success of the models as tools of continuous improvement.

There are no rules on how an organisation may use the models,

  • some use them continually to self-assess, as the driver of continuous improvement
  • some use only the results sections as a basis for designing and managing a performance measurement system
  • some use the resulting scores from an assessment against the model to benchmark against other like-minded organisations, allowing an easy method of identifying organisations that can potentially be learned from
  • some base the whole culture of the organisation around the concepts


Benchmarking is a systematic process for identifying and implementing best or better practices. Although experts break benchmarking into several types, there exist two main types of benchmarking:

  • Performance Benchmarking
  • Best Practice Benchmarking

In the West most large and highly successful organisations use best practice benchmarking as a tool to continually learn and improve.

The resources needed to carry out repeated best practice benchmarking projects properly and in a way that maximises the learning to be gained from the experiences can be considerable. Many organisations find it difficult to find the expertise and resources required.

One way to address the resource issue is to use the expertise of consultants or website resources like – a benchmarking website designed to assist in every step of a rigorous benchmarking process and which contains best practices from around the world. On the other hand, comparative or competitor benchmarking is not affected to the same degree by resources, and is used by organisations of all sizes, the most basic form of this practice is simply knowing your main competitors product price, something that is a prerequisite to staying in business.

  • Is benchmarking a passing management fad?
  • Benefits from benchmarking
  • Finding out more about benchmarking

Business Excellence

Business Excellence is often described as outstanding practices in managing the organisation and achieving results, all based on a set of fundamental concepts or values.

These practices have evolved into models for how a world class organisation should operate. These models have been developed and continue to evolve through extensive study of the practice and values of the world’s highest performing organisations.

Many countries have developed their own models and use these as frameworks to assess and recognise the performance of organisations through awards programmes.

Since the 1990s there has been a general decline in award applications. However there has been an increasing trend for organisations to apply these models and integrate the principles and practice with their day-to-day operations thereby achieving the benefits business excellence brings. Find out more about who uses these models.

What are business excellence models?
Business excellence models are frameworks that when applied within an organisation can help to focus thought and action in a more systematic and structured way that should lead to increased performance. The models are holistic in that they focus upon all areas and dimensions of an organisation, and in particular, factors that drive performance. These models are internationally recognised as both providing a framework to assist the adoption of business excellence principles, and an effective way of measuring how thoroughly this adoption has been incorporated.

Several business excellence models exist world-wide. While variations exist, these models are all remarkably similar. The most common include;

  • Baldrige (MBNQA) – Used in over 25 countries including US and NZ
  • European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) – Used throughout Europe
  • Singapore Quality Award Model – Singapore
  • Japan Quality Award Model – Japan
  • Canadian Business Excellence Model – Canada
  • Australian Business Excellence Framework (ABEF) – Australia

Baldrige Model
The most popular and influential model in the western world is the one launched by the US government called the Malcolm Baldrige Award Model (also commonly known as the Baldrige model, the Baldrige criteria, or The Criteria for Performance Excellence). More than 25 countries base their frameworks upon the Baldrige criteria.

The Baldrige model consists of practices that are incorporated into six Approach categories plus a Results category consisting of –

  • Leadership
  • Strategic Planning
  • Customer and Market Focus
  • Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management
  • Workforce focus
  • Process Management
  • Business Results

The Baldrige Values include:

  • Visionary Leadership
  • Customer-Driven Excellence
  • Organisational and Personal Learning
  • Valuing Employees and Partners
  • Agility
  • Focus on the Future
  • Managing for Innovation
  • Management by Fact
  • Social Responsibility
  • Focus on Results and Creating Value
  • Systems Perspective

EFQM model

  • The EFQM model consists of six process enablers and one results category:
  • Leadership
  • Policy and Strategy
  • People
  • Partnerships and Resources
  • Processes
  • Customer Results
  • People Results
  • Society Results
  • Key Performance Results

The fundamental concepts include:

  • Results orientation
  • Customer focus
  • Leadership and constancy of purpose
  • Management by processes and facts
  • People development and involvement
  • Continuous learning, innovation and improvement
  • Partnership development
  • Public responsibility

Award Programmes
In general, business excellence models have been developed by national bodies as a basis for award programmes. For most of these bodies, the awards themselves are secondary in importance to the wide-spread take up of the concepts of business excellence, which ultimately lead to improved national economic performance.

Often awards programmes operate at a local, regional and national level to recognise and celebrate the achievement of all levels of organisational maturity. It is through these award programmes that an organisation can be assessed and justifiably claim to operate at World Class levels of performance. Awards are usually only given to those organisations that have been assessed as “excellent” through a rigorous awards process using independent teams of evaluators to assess award applicants.

It was recently estimated that there are at least 76 countries operating a business excellence award programme at a national level.

Who uses business excellence / models?
Organisations across the world are using these business excellence models as a basis for continuous performance improvement.

In the US nearly two million copies of the Malcolm Baldrige Model have been distributed since the award’s launch in 1988, and this does not include copies that are available in books, state and local award programs, or those downloaded from the web.

In Europe alone the European Foundation for Quality Management believes that at least 30,000 organisations are using the EFQM model. The EFQM’s figure was based on the number of EFQM members, the members of its national partners, and those organisations that they know are using the model in their business.

About Us

Business excellence provides a proven framework for assessing the success and sustainability of any organisation. This proven framework considers all processes (such as supplier, internal and customer interfacing processes) and drivers of the organisation (including leadership, human resources, strategy, information and knowledge management) and provides insight into how these processes and drivers link to overall results. The framework is applicable to all types of organisations since the values of the organisation, the business environment it operates in, and the challenges it faces are considered.

The most commonly held belief is that business excellence is associated with award programmes. While the framework was originally developed to support award programmes by far the majority of organisations that use business excellence today do so for self assessment reasons. Self assessments enable you to identify the improvement opportunities that will drive future organisational growth and success.

Many organisations do not conduct self assessments because they believe that it is too complex to perform often requiring specialist experts and takes too long to complete.
At we aim to make business excellence easier to understand and more accessible to your organisation. You do not have to be an expert in business excellence to be able to use our tools and reap the same benefits that other organisations have obtained through their use.

Our mission is to provide you with practical tools that will make a difference for your organisation.

Founder Information

  • Dr. Robin Mann
  • Mr. Michael E. Voss