October 17, 2013

ISO or EFQM

We've been given a task (it's the assignment but since it's all pretty challenging to me, I'd call it a task) to create 4 presentations and 2 reports, all due next week. (now you may see why I think this is challenging) All about excellence models

Our first presentation is to compare ISO 9000 with EFQM model. At the beginning, I had absolutely no idea what EFQM is, so, of course, I digged in the internet and found some info on both. I won't spare you with all the details of ISO and EFQM, as we know they both concern quality management, however, I'll just briefly tell you what they are, what are the differences, and how to make use of it, from my understanding.

First, I've just found out that ISO 9000 is actually a series of ISO standard. It covers quite a range of ISO standard; ISO 9001, ISO 9002, ISO 9003, and ISO 9004. ISO 9000 itself describes the basic of quality management system and the guidelines for the other four standards. It helps organizations decide which ISO standard is suitable for them.

*FYI, ISO 9001 is intended for suppliers who do a lot of design or customization, ISO 9002 involves standards for both production and installation, ISO 9003 is guidelines for final test and inspection, and ISO 9004 is designed to help managers develop a substantial quality system.

Let’s look at EFQM; EFQM stands for European Foundation for Quality Management and is “a non-prescriptive framework which recognizes there are many approaches to achieving sustainable excellence”. It is based on 9 criteria, of which 5 are categorized as ‘enablers’, and 4 as ‘results’. It looks at each of the 9 criteria and then evaluates the organization on those criteria.

Now, what are the differences between these two? They have the same goal of quality improvement, but with slightly different approach. While ISO emphasizes auditing, EFQM focuses on self-assessment. In brief, I can summarize the main different points as follow:

1. Auditing has specific guidelines to follow. ISO checks if the organization’s system meets the standard. While self-assessment encourages company to find a new way to go forward.

2. Specific audit is designed and implemented for one specific function assessment. For example, a quality audit is designed only for quality system and can’t be used for environmental audit. While self-assessment is more flexible that it covers all aspects of business process.

Also, EFQM concerns CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) or Social results, which ISO doesn't quite focus on.

Now we come to the hard part, how does an organization know if ISO or EFQM is more suitable for them?

From what I’ve noticed, most, if not all, companies that pursue ISO certificates are manufacturing or industrial based companies. On the other hands, EFQM is adapted by a much wider range of companies. Also, I’ve learnt that customers tend to select the company with ISO rather than the ones without. In some cases, ISO is even the customers’ requirements that the companies must implement ISO. So to speak, companies may select ISO in order to gain the benefit in marketing.

If we look at the motivation, ISO implementation might have external motivation, but EFQM implementation is almost purely internally driven. Also, ISO is expert-controlled while EFQM is self-controlled (since EFQM is self-controlled, it explains why it requires internal motivation).

For me, our company is definitely going for ISO as our customers recognise ISO more than EFQM. Besides, from what I know, none of the companies in our business line has persued ISO, so this should give us considerable advantage. I'm also thinking of adopting some of the EFQM concepts to our organisation to improve in certain aspects. For example, innovation and learning part, as we still need to improve in the area.


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