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October 11, 2013


In a group meeting today ahead of our presentations in ten days (or so) time, we were discussing the advantages and disadvantages of EFQM and ISO 9000. An interesting concept was raised, stating that an organisation which combines both of the processes can achieve a higher standard of excellence. This is because the notion of ISO can ultimately begin the improvement process, and initially drive standards up from their basic level to conform to those of ISO. Whilst there are drawbacks to ISO standards, such as once the standard and award is acheived, a company may stop trying to improve its quality/processes and the fact that as ISO only focuses on quality imrpovement in certain departments rather than across the business as a whole. However, it is a useful way to begin the development process.

This coupled in tandem with the use of EFQM to then continually drive excellence across all business areas after the initial establishment of quality and processes from ISO, can be argued to be an effective way of setting up an organisation to achieve excellence. This is because the concept of continuous improvement across all areas of the business that EFQM focuses on is implemented, unlike in ISO where continuing to develop and refine ideas is ignored after obtaining the quality accreditation.

One reason the use of ISO to begin with may be of benefit is because the defined parameters of what is required may aid a business to move it's excellence journey in the right direction, which if using the self regulatory measures of EFQM may not happen. It is all well and good listening to your employees for example to understand how processes can be improved, but if for example the solutions offered by employees actually have an adverse effect on the business and are implemented, it can lead to a reduction in efficiency, productivity and ultiamtely profitability in the business.

Therefore, we concluded from our discussions that an organisation which implements both a policy of EFQM along with obtaining ISO quality standards, can (if successfully implemented) have the biggest positive impact on an organisation.

For example, if I establish an organisation that makes aircraft wings, by seeking ISO accreditation, I would learn about the expected processes and rules I would have to abide too to reach the award (which in tandem would open business opportunities etc.) which set me upon the path to quality. Then, after reaching the approved standard, which may normally result in a limiting of quality/excellence, the implementation of EFQM would allow business processes to continually be innovated and improved, leading to an increase in excellence that solely under the ISO model may not have been obtainable.

However, it is interesting to note that ISO is universally used across the world, apart from in Japan. Perhaps this is because the Japanese focus on just getting the processes right and to the highest standard, rather than feeling the need to earn an award that states a certain standard has been reached. Further research/debate is required on this!

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