Business Excellence Model © European Foundation for Quality Management

Many years ago, I studied for an MBA with an excellent bloke called Prof. John Oakland…he was actually the world’s first Professor of Quality Management!  As part of the study I looked into a variety of what were then called, Total Quality Management (TQM) models.  Well, having swotted away on a number of different models, I wrote up and submitted my thesis…which was okay, I got a good mark… but about 3 months after my submission the first incarnation of the Business Excellence Model was published …knocking all of my hard work into a cocked hat!  Since then the Business Excellence Model, sometimes called the EFQM Excellence Model (European Foundation for Quality Management), has become the most widely used continuous improvement tool in the world and it can be used by pretty much any organisation regardless of size or sector.  So much for my MBA thesis!

The model is made up of 2 parts, the first of which are called the “enablers” and these include:

  • Leadership
  • People management
  • Strategy
  • Partnerships and resources
  • Processes

These parts are called “enablers” as they can each be directly managed, and they lead to the second part of the model which generate the “results” from the work done with the enablers.  So the component parts of the second part of the model are:

  • People results
  • Customer results
  • Society results
  • Business results 

To my mind the bit that makes this model really cool is that there is a scoring methodology for each of the models’ components which also drills down into a number of sub-criteria that can also be scored.  This scoring methodology obviously allows the host company to quantitatively assess its current performance.  However, the objective is not necessarily to get a high score but instead to use the scoring system to critically assess current performance and to put plans in place to improve the score …over time. 

Whilst the objective behind the model was to create a quantitative framework to be used to drive performance improvement, over time a series of awards have developed around the model, so you can actually apply for the award in different relevant sectors; public, private and SME.  If you are of that mind be warned, it is an extremely tough and robust model and should you apply you have to demonstrate, in each of the nine categories of the model, quantitative performance improvement over a period of at least 3, preferably 5 years!  Yes 5 years!! In total, there are 1000 points to play for and a company will be doing pretty well if it gets over 500 points!  Even the winners of these very prestigious awards only usually get 750-800 points!

How to use it

The Business Excellence Model can be used in a number of different ways:

  • You can use a very quick and dirty one-page checklist to score yourself
  • You can get your team (and all of your staff) use the quick and dirty checklist
  • You can train a sample of your people to assess you
  • You can apply for the awards

Taking each of the above in turn:

We have a one-page checklist that can be downloaded and you can fire that about the business collecting people scores perhaps making comparisons between directors, managers and staff.  Are the directors harder on themselves than the staff or the other way round?

The BQF run a number of assessor courses and your people could attend one or more of those and then undertake a rigorous assessment of your current practices.

Again, the BQF offer a number of award schemes covering companies new to the idea of continual improvement and those more versed in the process, which would normally be for a company getting more than 600 points or there are the awards themselves.


If you look at how the model assigns scores, customer satisfaction gets 20% of the marks, people management and people results get 9% each, so a total of 18% and business results gets 15%… At Statius we’ve always believed that happy staff make for happy customers and happy customers come back thereby delivering better business results…a view that is, at least anecdotally, reflected in the models scoring methodology!

However regardless of the above, the Business Excellence Model provides a comprehensive framework on which to build towards the elusive goal of continual and quantifiable improvement.

  • Any and all improvement tools and techniques
  • The British Quality Foundation website
  • The EFQM Excellence model for Assessing Organizational Performance: A management Guide (Best Practice) – this includes 32 score sheet proformas
  • The X Factor; winning performance through business excellence – this is a bit heavy but includes a load of the research into excellent companies

Downloadable resources


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