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The EFQM model has been one of the leading management systems for quality management since the late 1980s. The model from the year 2013 was fundamentally modified and published in November 2019 as the EFQM Model 2020. While there have always been revisions to the EFQM Model in recent years, the changes to the Model 2020 are radical. It differs from the 2013 model both in its basic structure and concepts, whose basic layout was based on the Deming Circle and aimed at continuous improvement up to excellence. You can read about the changes the new model will bring in this blog article.

Complete revision for better companies

One change that surprised many certified users after the revision is the complete abandonment of the term excellence. In previous versions, the term was a fundamental component, and business excellence was the declared goal of the model. The EFQM organization that developed the EFQM Model now abandons the expression because it should be obvious. The previous basic structure was revisioned radically. Now, the model is presented as follows, based on a control loop. The organizational culture is brought into focus more than is the case with other models.

EFQM 2019 ©

EFQM 2019 ©

At first glance, the lack of hierarchy in the display is striking. You can see the reference to the PDCA cycle, which was already part of the predecessor model. However, the model is not subject to any hierarchy. The predecessor model from 2013 had a hierarchical structure, albeit a flat one. With the new model, it is different. The three parts have the same relevance. According to several sources, for example, the DQS, the model is based on the Golden Circle by Simon Sinek.

He assumes that every successful company knows and uses the answer to the "why" - i.e. the overriding goal, the philosophy of the company - to constantly improve your company. Click here to watch a video explaining the principle of Simon Sinek himself. 

The goal is to cover all relevant levels of the company and to help the company find its position in the so-called ecosystem. The ecosystem is intentionally used in the English spelling to avoid misunderstandings. According to the glossary of the EFQM model, it is to be understood as follows: "The environment and systems outside the organization by which the organization is influenced or which influence the organization." The term thus refers to all interrelationships of the organization, whether it is the competition, market changes, or legislation.

The company must always act in harmony with its ecosystem. The degree of connection to the ecosystem also influences the competitiveness of the company. For this reason, according to DQS, regular, individual feedback from stakeholders is part of the requirements catalog of the EFQM Model 2020.

This requirement is already known to many from ISO 9001:2015. There it says in chapter 4 Context of the organization:

"The organization shall identify external and internal issues relevant to its purpose and strategic direction that affect its ability to achieve the intended results of its quality management system. The organization shall monitor and review information on these external and internal issues.

The requirement in ISO 9001:2015 is almost identical to the requirements of EFQM, but the two models differ in the importance they give to the requirement. For the EFQM model, it is not just a requirement that must be met. They see it as a sufficient criterion that underpins the work of the organization. This is also reflected in the presentation of the EFQM model.

With ISO 9001: 2015 it is indeed a sufficient criterion, but no other meaning is assigned to it than the other criteria. The normative approach that the ISO 9001:2015 model follows is criticized in this article by DQS: Performance indicators are not sufficient to fully understand cause-and-effect relationships.

The individual segments

In addition to the fundamentally changed structure of the model, the requirements and criteria of the model were also minimized. Originally there were nine criteria, consisting of five requirements and four result criteria, which can be divided into 32 sub-criteria. These will no longer exist in this form. As you can already see in the figure above, the model focuses on three segments, which are subdivided as follows.

  • Alignment (of the company)
  • Purpose, vision, and strategy
  • Organizational culture and management

→ Procedure, implementation, evaluation, and improvement

  • Realization
  • Involve interest groups
  • Creating sustainable benefits
  • Driving Performance & Transformation

→ Procedure, implementation, evaluation, and improvement

  • Results
  • Strategy & performance related results
  • Perceptions of interest groups

→ Relevance and benefits, performance

As the name suggests, the Alignment section focuses on the orientation of the company. As already mentioned, the WHY, the why, should be the focus here and companies should be aware of the basis of the company's existence. It should be questioned whether and why the current strategy is the right one for the company.

The realization section deals with the criteria for implementing this corporate strategy. The company must become aware of what efficient possibilities are for achieving its corporate strategy. In addition to the involvement of the stakeholders, the second point, in particular, stands out here, "creating sustainable benefits". As in previous years, the aspect of sustainability is accorded particular importance in this model. In the presentation introducing the EFQM model, it says: "An outstanding organization understands that creating sustainable value is critical to its long-term success and financial strength. Its clearly defined purpose, complemented by its strategy, determines for whom the organization creates sustainable value".

Not only does the model focus on sustainability here, the entire EFQM (EUROPEAN FOUNDATION FOR QUALITY MANAGEMENT) organization is committed to the implementation of the UN's 17 sustainability goals and has announced in a public statement that they have also had an impact on the development of the EFQM Model 2020.

The change in the basic structure has led to a significant streamlining of the model. The essential criteria remain and have been condensed in the new model, instead of the individual result criteria of customers, employees, and society there is now a combined result segment.

The third sub-segment, Results, focuses on feedback from these key stakeholders. The important interest groups include customers, employees, society, and economic interest groups. The strategy and performance-related results are intended to examine how the organization measures its successes and how it uses cause-and-effect relationships to develop its strategy.

The RADAR Diagnostic Tool

As with the 2013 model, the RADAR Diagnostic Tool is used to evaluate the companies. The name RADAR is derived from the terms 

Results - Results

Approaches - Procedure

Deployment - Implementation 

Assess and 

Refine - Evaluation & Improvement ab. 

A table is used to perform the assessment. In this table the individual segments or elements are listed, so-called attributes, which determine the extent of achievement, as well as a description. For some attributes, data must be provided as proof of performance, for example, the extent to which the organization incorporates trends and sustainable performance into the corporate strategy. The radar assessment can be used by the organization itself to gain important insights, as well as in an external assessment for official certification. A total of 1000 points can be achieved in meeting the criteria. These are graded as follows: 

  • Alignment (of the organization) 
  • Purpose, vision and strategy 100 points 
  • Organizational culture and leadership 100 points 
  • Realization
  • Involve interest groups 100 points
  • Creating sustainable benefits 200 points
  • Driving performance & transformation 100 points
  • Results 
  • Strategy & performance related results 200 points
  • Perceptions of interest groups 200 points

Evaluation and certification

The new Model 2020 offers organizations the opportunity for self-assessment. In this way, organizations can gain valuable insights into their position and potential without the need for external auditors. Alternatively, one can become a member of the EFQM and, in addition to access to the model and a 25% discount on certification, gain additional benefits such as a publication discount, additional information material, and contact with other registered companies.

You can also book an assessment (comparable to an audit) through a national partner, such as the German Society for Quality (DGQ). Besides, interested parties can book information events and seminars through these partners. These are not obligatory, but help to build up capacities.

In cooperation with national partners, the EFQM offers, in addition to certification, the awarding of outstanding performance, which is determined using the RADAR diagnosis. For further information, please refer to the brochure linked to the sources.

Benefits of the EFQM model and experiences

Several months have passed since the launch of the new model. Organizations have had time to test the new model and form an opinion on it. As with most models, there are advantages and disadvantages in the EFQM Model 2020.

Jaroslav Nenadál, Professor at the Department of Quality Management at the VSB Technical University of Ostrava, criticizes, for example, that too little focus is placed on human resources. The EFQM Model 2020 attaches little or no importance to check the qualifications and competencies of employees etc. as is the case with ISO 9001:2015, for example.

Nenadál has more than 40 years of experience in the field of quality management. He is a member of the Czech Society for Quality Prague and represents the VSB-TU Ostrava at the EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) in Brussels. He has published 26 books and more than 180 articles, which mainly deals with the topic of quality management.

Nenadál also criticizes that many terms of the model are too vaguely formulated or not sufficiently defined. If you would like to read through Nenadál's complete analysis, you can find it in our sources.

However, there are also some organizations and consultants who have made a very positive impression of the new EFQM model so far. Among them is Norbert Kohlscheen from the Initiative Ludwig-Erhard-Prize. In his presentation on the new EFQM Model 2020, he also shares his experiences as an organizational consultant and comments very positively on the new model. He said that customers had reflected that the new model would awaken many new impulses. In particular, the revised structure of the model and the associated question of meaning have inspired him a lot. You can watch the presentation in its entirety here. 

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