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IJQRM
16,6 A self-assessed quality
management system based on
integration of MBNQA/
606
Received March 1998
ISO 9000/ISO 14000
Revised January 1999 K.F. Pun and K.S. Chin
City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Henry Lau
Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
Keywords Baldrige Award, ISO 9000, Self-assessment, Quality systems
Abstract With the proliferation of several quality awards and standards, many organisations
have taken their initiatives to employ different awards and standards in one form or another to
sustain competitive edge. The ultimate objective of a self-assessed quality management system
(SQMS) is to assist the organisation in its quest for corporate performance, business results and
financial health. It can be achieved through proceduralising organisational activities and
increasing uniformity and conformity of repeated tasks. This paper presents the compatibility of
assessment criteria of the Baldrige Award with the conformity requirements of both ISO 9000
and ISO 14000. A SQMS is built upon these criteria and requirements. The core concepts and
skeleton of the system are explained, and its applicability is illustrated with reference to an
implementation case in an engineering organisation in Hong Kong.

Introduction
Significant shifts in competitive edge have been sharpening the needs for
continuous improvements and breakthroughs on quality. Many companies
have taken their initiatives to employ different quality awards and standards in
one form or another to document, implement quality assurance practices and
verify continued compliance. For instance, the Malcolm Baldrige National
Quality Award (MBNQA) in the United States of America, the European
Quality Award (EQA) in Western Europe and Australian Quality Award
(AQA) in Australia, are some of the prestigious awards recently established
with a view towards increasing the quality awareness and competitiveness in
their respective countries (Tummala and Tang, 1994; van der Wiele et al., 1997).
Of the established series of quality standards, ISO 9000 have since 1987 been
adopted as the referred or national standards for quality management system
in many countries and regions. Companies that document and implement
quality assurance practices to conform with the ISO 9000 standards would be
awarded ISO 9001, ISO 9002 or ISO 9003 Certification (ISO, 1994a; BSI, 1994).
These awards and standards are commonly adopted as a means of recognising
International Journal of Quality &
the achievements of total quality management (TQM). Some empirical studies
Reliability Management, also found that there has been a strategic quality movement to integrate both
Vol. 16 No. 6, 1999, pp. 606-629.
# MCB University Press, 0256-671X ISO 9000 and TQM practices (Chin et al., 1995). Moreover, the increasing
awareness of the environmental compliance requirements has also imposed Self-assessed
pressures on business enterprises in industry. ISO 14000 has gone through a quality
very rapid process for the world to agree upon an environmental management management
standard comparable to the ISO 9000 quality management standard (ISO,
1996a and 1996b; Kuhre, 1995; Hale, 1997). With the emergence of ISO 14000,
companies with business units certified to ISO 9000 should consider the
possibility of integrating the two management systems and also incorporating 607
safety and health standards (Struebing, 1996; Hale, 1997; Beechner and Koch,
1997; ISO, 1988). This scenario necessitated the management efforts to build an
integrated system with the TQM-based framework that can link self-
assessment to business performance and competitiveness. This paper presents
the compatibility of assessment criteria of the Baldrige Award with the
conformity requirements of both ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. A self-assessed
quality management system (SQMS) is built upon these criteria and
requirements. The core concepts and skeleton of the system are explained, and
its applicability is illustrated with reference to an implementation case in an
engineering organisation in Hong Kong.

Transformation journey of quality management system


Systems for improving and managing quality have evolved rapidly in recent
years (Tummala and Tang, 1994; van der Wiele et al., 1997). Reduction of
variation, continuous improvement of products and services, design quality,
speed and prevention, zero defects, cost of poor quality, leadership, people
participation and partnership, cross functional management, systematic
approach to quality and strategic focus with respect to customer satisfaction,
competitiveness, profitability, quality planning and organisation-wide
commitment are the major concepts and factors that are introduced by quality
gurus, like Deming, Juran, Crosby, Feigenbaum, Ishikawa and Garvin in one
form or another in managing quality (Tummala and Tang, 1994). These quality
concepts and factors have been translated into the assessment criteria, core
elements and values of various quality awards (such as MBNQA, EQA and
AQA) and standards (such as ISO 9000 and ISO 14000).
During the past decades, simple inspection activities have been replaced or
supplemented by quality control, quality assurance has been developed and
refined. Most companies are now taking initiatives with the ISO 9000 quality
assurance system and working towards total quality management (Dale, 1994;
Chin et al., 1995; van der Wiele et al., 1997). ISO 9000 focuses on the conformity
to practices specified in registrants' own quality system. Its disciplines
imposed on calibration, document control and internal audit ensure a company
operating efficiently with the current system, and in turn, facilitate quality
improvement. However, there has been a widely held view that ISO 9000 is
weak on continuous improvement (Chin et al., 1995; Pun, 1998). Reliance solely
on the ISO 9000 registration is not sufficient to sustain competitive edge.
Quality-led companies need to continuously improve or breakthrough their
operational performance at every level and in all functional areas. TQM-
IJQRM oriented assessment criteria can drive them towards the continual
16,6 maintenance, development and improvement of overall operation performance
and the delivery of ever-improving values to customers. Furthermore, the
emerging issues of clean production and environmental protection also force
companies to respond through their self-initiatives. Managing the cost of doing
business with environmental and safety concerns has become an integral part
608 of a comprehensive, overall business strategy (Florida, 1996; Rondinelli and
Vastag, 1996; Wever, 1996). With the myriad of different management system
standards inundating organisations, it is time to merge them wherever
practicable. Quality products and services can be delivered best when all of an
organisation's systems are efficient and focused on the same target (Beechner
and Koch, 1997). However, when there is a collection of ad hoc systems or
standards from different areas, efficiency is difficult and misperceptions and
confusion often occur. It is thus best to eliminate potential confusion and sub-
optimisation from the outset by establishing and maintaining a total systems
approach (Beechner and Roch, 1997). A self-assessed quality management
system (SQMS) that can integrate the TQM-oriented assessment requirements
with the conformity of the quality and environmental standards can better
accommodate today's sharpening needs of quality performance. Once they are
integrated, the organisation just needs to adhere to and maintain the system to
keep it running smoothly.

A brief overview of MBNQA, ISO 9000 and ISO 14000


The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) was created by an
act of Congress in 1987 to stimulate quality awareness in the USA. Awards are
made annually to recognise quality winners for performance excellence, and
may be given in each of three eligibility categories such as manufacturing
companies, service companies and small businesses (Brown, 1996; NIST, 1998).
The Award aims to promote the understanding of the requirements for
performance excellence and competitiveness improvement, the sharing of
information on successful performance strategies and the benefits derived from
using these strategies (NIST, 1998). It establishes a self-assessment benchmark
against which improvement can be measured and verified. This is a systematic
assessment of an organisation's overall activities conducted for the purpose of
evaluating performance, identifying areas for improvement, and developing
recommendations and plans for further action. Award applicants are evaluated
on seven major categories of quality criteria, including Leadership, Strategic
Planning, Customer and Market Focus, Information and Analysis, Human
Resource Focus, Process Management and Business Results. These assessment
criteria share a maximum score of 1,000 points and are designed to be flexible
and inclusive of a wide variety of quality systems. They are used by
organisations of all kinds for self-assessment, planning, training and other
purposes (NIST, 1998). The assessment scores are derived from the company's
performance against systematic questioning for these categories, in terms of
their approach to the requirements of each category, the deployment of their Self-assessed
efforts across the company as a whole and also of the results achieved (NIST, quality
1998). The Award framework for the quality process has built into four management
components, including the driver, system, measures of progress and the goal.
They help assess the performance of organisations in line with these award
categories (Brown, 1996; Affisco et al., 1997). The Award is concerned with
quality and customer satisfaction and is based on TQM-oriented criteria and 609
allows self-assessment on an ongoing basis and as a measuring stick for
performance comparison with other organisations. Recent significant
development of the Award have made the change in emphasis from achieving
customer satisfaction to improving performance and the setting of a standard
for business excellence. Award recipients may publicise and advertise receipt
of the Award, and are expected to share information about their successful
performance strategies with other organisations (NIST, 1998).

The ISO 9000 series of standards


The ISO 9000 series of quality assurance standards, consisting of ISO 9000, ISO
9001, ISO 9002, ISO 9003 and ISO 9004, were issued in 1987 and revised in 1994
by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO, 1994a, 1994b).
They are based on the concept that certain minimum characteristics of quality
management system can be usefully standardised, giving mutual benefit to
suppliers and customers alike (BSI, 1994; Affisco et al., 1997). In simple terms,
the objectives of the ISO 9000 series are to give purchasers an assurance that
the quality of the products and services provided by a supplier meet their
requirements. The series defines and sets out a definitive list of features and
characteristics that it is considered should be present in an organisation's
management control system through documented policies, manual and
procedures, which help to ensure that quality is built into a process. The ISO
9000 series consists of five individual standards divided into four parts. They
provide guidelines for companies to develop an effective quality system that
can reflect their practices of producing goods and services, and conform to
specified requirements in order to enhance and facilitate trade (ISO, 1994a; BSI,
1994; Mahoney and Thor, 1994). ISO 9000 describes the use of a particular
standard, and ISO 9004 describes the establishment of an internal quality
management system within the broad and general context of TQM. They are
considered as one part of the series and are intended only as guidelines. The
other three standards, such as ISO 9001, ISO 9002 and ISO 9003, are the generic
standards containing minimum requirements for establishing and maintaining
a documented quality system to instil confidence in customer requirements. In
other words, they are the contractual standards between suppliers and
customers. Of them, ISO 9001 is the most comprehensive standard that covers
circumstances in which an organisation is responsible for design and
development, production, installation and servicing. It contains 20 clauses of
system requirements that set forth the practical guidelines to establish and
maintain a documented quality system in meeting customer requirements (ISO,
IJQRM 1994b). If a company is engaged in production and installation only, then it can
16,6 use ISO 9002 to establish and maintain a documented quality system, whereas
it can use ISO 9003 if it is engaged only in final inspection and test (BSI, 1994;
Mahoney and Thor, 1994). In 1998, a new version of ISO 9001: 2000 quality
management system requirements was being drafted. Guidance on the
development of a complete quality management system for improvement of the
610 organisation, going beyond the requirements for conformity of product and/or
service, is also available in a draft ISO 9004: 2000 quality management system
guideline (ISO, 1998). The new version of ISO 9000 series would look further
at compatibility with other management system disciplines such as
environmental management, occupational health and safety management and
financial management (ISO, 1998).

The ISO 14000 series of standards


Products that are environmentally friendly in production and in use may have
greater appeal in the marketplace. ISO 14000 is composed of two groups of
standards which have been launched in 1996 (ISO, 1996a). The first group
includes ISO 14001 and ISO 14004 that are concerned with establishing
guidelines and principles for the management of environmental matters by
organisations through the establishment and operation of environmental
management systems (EMS) (ISO, 1996a and 1996b). The remaining three
standards (such as ISO 14010, ISO 14011 and ISO 14012) are guidelines for
environmental auditing that deal with analysing and characterising the
environmental attributes of products (ISO, 1996c, 1996d, 1996e). These
standards are designed to help organisations develop and implement a
formalised management process, and evaluate the effectiveness of their
activities, operations, products and services to improve environmental and
safety performance (Kuhre, 1995). The ISO 14001 EMS draw its core elements
from proven management systems as that of the ISO 9000 series, such as
management by objectives, organisational development models, and
continuous improvement to measure, review, perform root-cause analysis and
take corrective action. It provides a management framework for planning,
developing and implementing strategies and related programmes in an
organisation. The ISO 14000 series stresses continual improvement and
dynamic ``plan-do-check-act'' process, and requires organizations to evaluate
their current and potential environmental exposures in terms of impact and
compliance with legislation (Kuhre, 1995; Wever, 1996; ISO, 1996a).

Comparisons among the MBNQA, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001


Facing increasing marketplace challenges, many organisations realise that
total quality is essential and protecting the environment is also required for
improving the quality of life. Some recent studies showed that there is synergy
among MBNQA, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 (Affisco et al., 1997; Beechner and
Koch, 1997; Pun, 1998). Table I presents the comparisons among the MBNQA
and the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards at a macro level. Although there are
Dimensions Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award ISO 9001: 1994 standard ISO 14001: 1996 standard

Purposes Promote quality awareness, performance Effectively documenting the quality systems Assist organisations to achieve
excellence and competitiveness elements to be implemented or in place environmental performance by managing
improvement, share information on needed to ensure an ability to perform and evaluating environmental aspects of
successful performance strategies and the Voluntary registration by an accredited operations. Third party registration and/or
benefits derived third party self-declaration
Emphasis Customer satisfaction through continuous Validate supplier ability and capability to Establish environmental management
quality improvement, and setting of a perform according to contract systems (EMS) to foster environmental
standard for business excellence. protection and sustainable development
Eligibility Organisations only (limited to the USA) This is generic and independent of any Any organisations (regardless of size, type
specific industry or economic sector. It is and level of maturity) that are interested in
applicable to all types and sizes of the development, implementation and
organisations maintenance of their EMS
Participants Maximum of two manufacturing companies Organisations wish to develop their quality Organisations desiring to certify their
(plus their divisions), two small companies systems and to meet the vendor environmental perfomance to an audit
(fewer than 500 employees) and two service requirement as specified in contracts, client. Organisations may include
companies especially those wishing to have trades with companies, divisions operations and facilites
EC countries and the USA
Evaluation Seven categories of criteria include Specification for design, development, Does not state specific environmental
leadership, strategic planning, customer and production, installation and servicing. It performance criteria. Five basic elements
market focus, information and analysis, contains 20 principal clauses that include (environmental policy, planning,
human resource focus, process management management responsibilities, quality implementation and operation, checking and
and business results. 1000 points allocated system, contract review, design control, corrective action and management review)
over 20 sub-criteria document control and others are required
Orientation Result (65 per cent) plus process (35 per Process (80 per cent) plus management and Share common management system
cent). Heavy on business results (450 scores) administration (20 per cent). Heavy on principles with the ISO 9000 series. Heavy
and leadership (110 scores) quality assurance initiatives and conformity on continual improvement and complience
of clauses with legislation
Mechanics Self-assessment, performance measurement Select registration/certification agency, Select registration/ certification agency and
and audit, qualification for site visit and choose standard, submit a quality manual, commission EMS audits, perform on-site
competition conduct external quality audits and obtain assessment and obtain certification
certification

ISO 14001
ISO 9001 and
Macro level comparison
among MBNQA,
Table I.
Self-assessed

management
quality

611
IJQRM differences in the requirements of many aspects (such as purposes, emphasis,
16,6 eligibility, participants, evaluation criteria, orientation and mechanics), they
are so intertwined that they require better integration for business results. For
instance, according to the study of Affisco et al. (1997), organisations that have
developed quality management systems (QMS) using the MBNQA criteria as a
guide should benefit from this when developing an EMS because of the many
612 similarities among them. Those organisations that have achieved ISO 9000
certification should also benefit from this effort when developing the
implementation and operation, and checking and corrective action elements of
an EMS (Affisco et al., 1997). However, this is still open to debate since there is a
lot of evidence to show that ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 have in many cases been
introduced with little awareness of TQM, and this has not changed following
introduction of the standards. To integrate MBNQA with ISO 9001 and ISO
14001, each award criterion need to be examined. The organisation should then
determine how to embed the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 elements into the
associated award criteria and how to integrate the self-assessment
requirements into a performance management system framework. Table II
provides a cross-reference of where specific requirements are found in the
award criteria and both of the standards. The table is largely self-exploratory
and shows that a high level of congruence exists among the evaluation criteria
of MBNQA and the conformity elements of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
The emphasis of MBNQA is on achieving customer satisfaction through
continuous quality improvement and setting of a standard for business
excellence (NIST, 1998). The core values and concepts of MBNQA are
embodied in seven categories of award criteria. Leadership (Category 1),
Strategic Planning (Category 2) and Customer and Market Focus (Category 3)
represent the leadership triad and have a total score of 270 points. They
emphasise the importance of a leadership focus on strategy and customers, and
underline that senior leaders must set company direction and seek future
opportunities for the company. Human Resources Focus (Category 5), Process
Management (Category 6) and Business Results (Category 7) represent the
result triad and have a total score of 650 points. They stress the company's
employee and key processes to accomplish the work of the organisation that
yields its business results. Information and Analysis (Category 4) has a score of
80 points, and serves as a foundation for analysing the performance
management system that is critical for improving company performance and
competitiveness. These seven criteria are made up of results-oriented
requirements and focus on business results. Moreover, they support goal-based
diagnosis and adopt a systems approach to maintaining company-wide goal
alignment (NIST, 1998). A foundation for performance improvement is a self-
assessment orientation and this is achieved through a heavy weight on
business results in the scoring system (Reimann and Hertz, 1993; Affisco et al.,
1997; NIST, 1998). Regarding the ISO 9001 standard, it is merely process and
customer focused, and relies on the ability of organisations to perform in
accordance with the contracts with their customers. A heavy orientation
Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award ISO 9001: 1994 Standard ISO 14001: 1996 Standard
1998 criteria (point values): Clause references: Clause references:

1. Leadership (110) 4.1.1 Quality policy 4.2 Environmental policy


2. Strategic planning (80) 4.2.1 General 4.1 General requirements
4.2.3 Quality planning 4.3 Planning
4.3.2 Responsibility and authority 4.3.1 Environmental aspects
(Legal requirements addressed in 4.4.4) 4.3.2 Legal and other requirements
(Objectives addressed in 4.1.1) 4.3.3 Objectives and targets
4.2.2 Quality planning 4.3.4 Environmental management programme(s)
3. Customer and market focus (80) 4.3 Contract review (communication with stakeholders) 4.4.3 Communication
4.1.3 Management review 4.6 Management review
4. Information and analysis (80) 4.5 Document and data control 4.4.4 Environmental documentaion
4.2.2 Quality system procedures 4.4.5 Document control
5. Human resource focus (100) 4.1.2 Organisation 4.4 Implementation and operation
4.1.2 Organisation 4.4.1 Structure and responsibility
4.18 Training 4.4.2 Training, awareness and competence
6. Process management (100) 4.3 Contract review 4.4.6 Operational control
4.4 Design control 4.4.6 Operational control
4.6 Purchasing 4.4.6 Operational control
4.7 Control of customer-supplied product 4.4.6 Operational control
4.8 Product identification and traceability 4.4.6 Operational control
4.9 Process control 4.4.6 Operational control
4.10 Inspection and testing 4.5 Checking and corrective action
4.11 Control of inspection, measuring and test 4.5.1 Monitoring and measurement
equipment
4.12 Inspection and test status 4.5.1 Monitoring and measurement
4.13 Control of nonconforming product 4.5.2 Nonconformance and corrective and preventive action
4.14 Corrective and preventive action 4.4.7 Emergency prepareness and response
4.15 Handling, storage, packaging, preservation and 4.4.6 Operational control
delivery
4.16 Control of quality records 4.5.3 Records
4.17 Internal quality audits 4.5.4 Environmental management system audit
4.19 Servicing 4.4.6 Operational control
4.20 Statistical techniques 4.5.1 Monitoring and measurement
7. Business results (450) 4.1.3 Management review 4.6 Management review

ISO 14001 elements


the ISO 9001 and
MBNQA criteria and
Cross-reference of the
Table II.
Self-assessed

management
quality

613
IJQRM towards operating processes is emphasised in the standard (Affisco et al., 1997).
16,6 To a great extent, ISO 9001 thus forms a major part of Process Management
(Category 6) of MBNQA. On the other hand, the focus of ISO 14001 is put on the
development and implementation of an environmental management system
(EMS). It addresses the needs of a broad range of interested parties and the
evolving needs of society for environmental protection and sustainable
614 development. EMS audits of organisations may be commissioned internally or
by external regulatory or contractual entities, and they stress primarily the
environmental policies and the performance in achieving them (Affisco et al.,
1997). ISO 14001 also contributes significantly to the process management as
required in Category 6 of MBNQA.
The design of both ISO 9001 QMS and ISO 14001 EMS is an ongoing,
interactive process that consists of defining, documenting and improving on
the required capabilities. ISO 9001 provides a structure for defining and
implementing a baseline quality assurance system that is essential for
launching continuous improvement processes and techniques. Similarly, the
emphasis of a successful EMS is on continuous improvement in achieving an
environmental policy that is grounded in the concepts of pollution prevention
and sustainable development (Cascio, 1996; Affisco et al., 1997). A documented
system is thus a fundamental requirement for MBNQA, ISO 9001 and ISO
14001. The structure, responsibilities, practices, procedures, processes and
resources for implementing quality and environmental policies, objectives and
targets should be co-ordinated with existing efforts in other functional areas of
the organisation. Many of the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standard requirements
can easily be added to the existing documented procedures for MBNQA; only a
few clauses require their own procedures (Beecher and Koch, 1997). Moreover,
separate audits for ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 may not be needed because of
similarities in structure and documentation between them. However, some
additional assessment activity and effort on the part of the auditing team may
be required to evaluate a management system that has been expanded to cover
more aspects of a company's operations. Specific work still remains to be done
to develop a plan for reconciling the disparate impact on organisations of
failing to fulfil the MBNQA criteria and obtain the ISO 9001 registration versus
non-compliance with environmental regulations (Affisco et al., 1997). Both ISO
9001 and ISO 14001 constitute an integral part of an organisation's overall
management system. When blended with the MBNQA criteria, together they
provide a reasonable framework to help an organisation achieve functional
clarity and reach its goals. They also place a great emphasis on self-assessment
in achieving quality and business performance, business results and
management excellence.

Building a self-assessed quality management system


There are significant opportunities for integrating MBNQA with ISO 9001 and
ISO 14001. The principles of TQM as implemented with the MBNQA criteria
can be used as an umbrella under which the integration can proceed along with
efficient self-assessment. According to the European Foundation for Quality Self-assessed
Management, self-assessment is a comprehensive and regular review of an quality
organisation's activities and results against a systematic model of business management
excellence (EFQM, 1997). The assessment process allows the organisation to
discern clearly its strengths and the areas in which improvements can be made
and culminates in planned improvement actions that are monitored for
progress. It allows an organisation to monitor on a regular basis what activities 615
are going well, those which have stagnated and what needs to be improved
(Beasley, 1994; van der Wiele et al., 1997).
The building of a self-assessed quality management system (SQMS) should
start with well-defined corporate values and mission so that all stakeholders
can visualise the commitment, culture and core values of an organisation.
Figure 1 shows the logic flow of the building and development of the proposed
SQMS. Senior management should initiate their leadership, and develop clear
company goals and quality objectives consistent with the company's mission.
Core quality concepts and elements (such as leadership, strategic quality
planning, design quality, speed and prevention, people participation and
partnership, fact-based management, continuous improvement, and customer
focus and satisfaction) would then be identified, and together as a system
addressed to well-defined and designed processes. These processes would
encompass the planning of new products or services with zero defects,
employee and supplier involvement and participation, training and education,
rewards and recognition as well as the quality of work environment (Pun,
1998).
Competitive performance evaluations and benchmarking would directly
address continuous improvements and changing customer requirements, with
the aid of analytical tools and problem-solving techniques (such as statistical
tools, cause-and-effect diagrams and relations diagrams). The findings would
then be used to formulate a process management plan that interweaves the
objectives, strategies and implementation aspects of quality programmes,
projects and tasks. Both the environmental and the safety and health standards
would be included along the conformity requirements of the ISO 9000
Certification as they are all embraced by TQM philosophy. The company can
then document quality policies, processes and procedures into the system, and
use them as a platform for continuously improving the quality of products or
services that customers want (Pun, 1998). Having regard to the different
business situations, the management can decide on either taking small-step
process improvements using Kaizen approach, or radical process changes
using Business Process Re-engineering or both depending on whether they
may be needed separately and collectively.
In integrating a self-assessed QMS, organisations should concentrate and
build on what already exists, as opposed to developing large manuals and
operating procedures for each SQMS sub-element. They should also put cross-
functional teams to perform systems integration on the documentation side and
incorporate quality, environmental and safety issues effectively (Beechner and
IJQRM
16,6 Define corporate
vision and mission Organisational
System Senior environments,
Planning executive resources and
leadership constraints/
Develop company limitations
goals and objectives
616
Identify critical
Core concepts sucess factors Strategic
(e.g. customer-focus, planning
and continuous alignment and
improvements) Determine critical benchmarking
processes
Conduct assurance, Employ quality
performance Formulate process improvement tools
analysis management plan and techniques

System
Integration
Evauation Develop integrated Operation,
criteria and quality management finance, markets
guidelines programmes and legal concerns

Quality assurance, Incorporate key Quality improvement,


environmental elements of quality environmental
protection and and environmental conservation and
safety requirements management systems safety concerns

Use “Kaizen” Adopt big-step


System small-step process business process
Installation improvement reengineering

Document Install a self-assessed Management


control quality management reviews and audits
system

Streamline system Feedback and


execution
and development System refinement

Achieve business
results and
Figure 1. performance
Logic flow of SQMS excellence
building and
development
Koch, 1997; McCully, 1997b). Detailed system implementation should be Self-assessed
planned, taking in the SQMS criteria and the considerations of time schedules, quality
budgets and resource allocation. To avoid falling into the trap of developing management
separate and distinct procedures for each function that has no link to other
facets of the integrated system, effective management reviews and audits of the
self-assessment results can help streamline the SQMS development process
(Hale, 1997). Moreover, possible feedback can recycle back to the planning and 617
integration stages for further refinement of the SQMS building and
development. Apart from those technical aspects, the management
commitment and employee involvement efforts are governing the success of
SQMS. Proper building and development of SQMS can help organisations to
better safeguard their sustainable business results and achieve performance
improvement and excellence.

A systems perspective of SQMS


The SQMS adopts the evaluation principles and framework compatible to that
of MBNQA (Brown, 1996; Pun, 1998). However, in order to have wider system
integrity, the SQMS extends its categories of evaluation criteria from seven to
ten. They include Senior Executive Leadership, Strategic Planning and
Alignment, Customer Value and Market Focus, Strategic Information and
Analysis, Human Resource Focus, Process Analysis and Management,
Operations and Business Results, Employee Satisfaction, Supplier Quality and
Relationship and Environmental Impact on Society (Pun, 1998). These criteria
have 33 sub-criteria, and are primarily designed for self-assessment of a
company's performance on an ongoing basis and internal benchmarking of
business results. They are built upon the core quality concepts and integrate
with each other in the SQMS framework, as illustrated in Figure 2. The use of
SQMS can also be extended for external comparisons with other organisations
that adopt similar self-assessment principles and framework.
Apart from the integrated system ingredients of ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, the
SQMS process has four critical elements, including the driver, the system, the
measures of progress and the goal. These elements govern the operations of
SQMS as that of MBNQA (Brown, 1996; NIST, 1998). Senior Executive
Leadership is the driver. It creates the core SQMS concepts that drive the
sustained pursuit of customer value and improvement in corporate
performance. In other words, if the management does not want self-assessment
to happen, it will not happen. The system comprises the well-defined and
designed processes for meeting customer, quality and performance
requirements. It addresses four SQMS criteria that include Process Analysis
and Management, Human Resource Development and Management, Strategic
Planning and Alignment as well as Strategic Information and Analysis. They
stress the company's employee and key processes to attain business results and
improve business performance. The measures of progress provide a results-
oriented basis for channelling actions to delivering ever-improving Customer
Value and Market Focus and company performance in Employee Satisfaction,
16,6

618

of SQMS
IJQRM

Figure 2.
A systems perspective
Driver System Measures of Goal
Progress

1. Senior 2. Senior Self-assessed 3. Customer Core


Exective Planning and Quality Value and Values
Leadership Alignment Management Market Focus
(110 points) (90 points) System (80 points)
• Customer
Satisfaction

Quality 7. Operations and


Core Business Result • Customer
Concepts 4. Senior Assurance
Information Requirements (270 points) Retention
and Analysis
• Fact-Based (80 points)
• Market Share
Management + Gain
8. Employee
Satisfaction
• People Environmental (70 points) • Financial and
Participation 5. Human Protection Productivity
Resource Requirements Improvement
• Quality Focus
(100 points) 9. Supplier Quality
Performance and Relationship
+ • Waste
(60 points) Reduction and
• Customer Elimination
Focus Safety and
6. Process Health 10. Environmental
Requirements Impact on • Safety and
• Continuous Analysis and Environmental
Management Society
Improvement (50 points) Performance
(100 points)
Supplier Quality and Relationship, Operations and Business Results as well as Self-assessed
Environmental Impact on Society. Moreover, the setting of a self-assessment quality
standard for business excellence is the goal of the whole SQMS process management
in relation to improving business performance, satisfying customers'
requirements, gaining new customers and increasing market shares.
Furthermore, the scores of SQMS criteria are adjusted to give a total score of
1,000 points as adopted by MBNQA (Pun, 1998). Table III depicts a score listing 619
of the SQMS criteria versus the MBNQA criteria. Following the TQM-oriented
evaluation principles adopted by MBQNA, the SQMS criteria are derived based
on the company's performance, in terms of the evaluation requirements of the
system, the deployment of the company's efforts and resources and also the
operations and business results achieved. Both MBNQA and SQMS criteria are
result-oriented, and used to measure performance on a wide range of key
business performance indicators (such as customer, product and service,
operational and financial). However, SQMS is primarily tailored to help
organisations to achieve efficient self-assessment of their performance, and this
does not necessarily lead to applying any awards like MBNQA. As compared
to MBNQA, the SQMS criteria address specified self-assessment requirements
on Business Results and other categories of criteria (such as Strategic Planning,
Customer Value and Market Focus, Information and Analysis and Process
Management) though their assigned scores are largely the same. SQMS uses
four individual criteria of Operations and Business Results, Employee
Satisfaction, Supplier Quality and Relationship, and Environmental Impact on
Society to assess the overall performance of business results as that of
Category 7 in MBNQA. SQMS also relocates the assigned scores of certain
evaluation sub-criteria and adds new elements (such as alignment of business
processes, determining customer requirements, documentation and audit,
continuous improvement of processes and others) to reflect the importance of
individual criteria. The scoring mechanism of SQMS can provide an objective
self-assessment that helps gain consensus on the strengths and weaknesses of
the current practices and pinpoint improvement and breakthrough
opportunities for the organisations. In addition, SQMS is developed to be
compatible with other management system disciplines. Both internal and
external benchmarking and organisational learning can also be facilitated. The
SQMS criteria can thus provide a feasible self-assessment framework aiming
for performance excellence.

Implementation of SQMS
A SQMS cannot be implemented overnight and with little thought. Various
elements and practices have got to be in place, and management needs to
understand the questions underpinning the quality management system on
which self-assessment is being made. What has not been implemented cannot
be assessed, and zero scoring is self-defeating and de-motivating. The entire
organisation or individual functions can be discouraged as a result of low
scores, or there can be a tendency to score higher against the SQMS criteria.
IJQRM Self-assessed quality management system Malcolm Baldrige national quality award
16,6 The SQMS criteria Point values 1998 Categories/Items Point values

1. Senior executive leadership (110) 1. Leadership (110)


1.1 Leadership system 80 1.1 Leadership system 80
1.2 Company responsibility and 30 1.2 Company responsiblity 30
citizenship and citizenship
620 2. Strategic planning and alignment
2.1 Strategy development process
80
30
2. Strategic planning
2.1 Stategy development process
(80)
40
2.2 Company strategy 30 2.2 Company strategy 40
2.3 Alignment of business processes 20
3. Customer value and market focus (80) 3. Customer value and market focus (80)
3.1 Customer and market knowledge 40 3.1 Customer and market knowledge 40
3.2 Customer satisfaction and 25 3.2 Customer satisfaction and 40
relationship enhancement relationship enhancement
3.3 Determining customer requirements 15
4. Stategic information and analysis (80) 4. Information and analysis (80)
4.1 Management of information 25 4.1 Selection and use of information 25
and data and data
4.2 Selection and use of comparative 15 4.2 Selection and use of comparative 15
information and data information and data
4.3 Analysis and review of company 25 4.3 Analysis and review of company 40
performance performance
4.4 Documentation and audit 15
5. Human resource focus (100) 5. Human resource focus (100)
5.1 Work systems 40 5.1 Work systems 40
5.2 Employee education, training and 30 5.2 Employee education, training and 30
development development
5.3 Employee well-being and 30 5.3 Employee well-being and 30
satisfaction satisfaction
6. Process analysis and management (100) 6. Process management (100)
6.1 Management of business 40 6.1 Management of product and 60
processes service processes
6.2 Management of support processes 20 6.2 Management of support processes 20
6.3 Management of supplier partnering 20 6.3 Management of supplier and 20
partnering processes
6.4 Continuous improvement of 20
processes
7. Operations and business results (270) 7. Business results (450)
7.1 Customer satisfaction results 70 7.1 Customer satisfaction results 125
7.2 Financial and market results 100 7.2 Financial and market results 100
7.3 Competitive benchmark 30 7.3 Human resource results 50
7.4 Review of company performance 30 7.4 Supplier and partner results 25
7.5 Company-specific results 40 7.5 Company-specific results 125
8. Employee satisfaction (70)
8.1 Human resource results 20
8.2 Recognition and measurement 20
8.3 Involvement, well-being and morale 15
8.4 Safety and hygiene 15
9. Supplier quality and relationship (60)
9.1 Supplier and partner results 30
9.2 Supplier relationship enhancement 15
9.3 Supplier service standards 15
10. Environmental impact on society (15)
10.1 Public and social responsibilities 35
Table III. 10.2 Environment protection/ 15
Comparison between conservation
Total: 1000 Total: 1000
SQMS criteria and
MBNQA criteria Source: Pun (1998) and NIST (1998)
Both over-optimistic and under-pessimistic pictures could be created, and Self-assessed
internal auditors may not have sufficient experience to know what they are quality
talking about and looking for. Research and practical evidence point to the fact management
that improper self-assessments can cause organisations to be pushed along
blind alleys and to take initiatives which are not suited to their current state of
TQM development (Beasley, 1994; van der Wiele et al., 1997). Therefore, the
implementation of SQMS demands a serious investment in resources, and it 621
will take time to develop an approach throughout the organisation that fits the
specific situation of the company. There is a pressing need for a structured
approach to implementing the SQMS in a way that guides all critical elements
towards the level of business excellence defined by the management. Fourteen
steps are identified to help organisations to encapsulate the conformity
requirements of quality and environmental management systems into the way
their business is managed (Pun, 1998). Figure 3 shows a logical sequence of
these steps within the SQMS process. The sequence also allows comprehension
recycles and feedback of individual steps regarding performance
improvements and breakthroughs in the process. Internal benchmarking and
external comparison of self-assessment results are also made possible with the
SQMS criteria. In the ensuing section, an implementation case of SQMS is
described incorporating these 14 steps.

SQMS implementation: an application case


Established in 1990, the Manufacturing Engineering Laboratories (MEL) of
City University of Hong Kong have gone through a number of structural and
organisational expansions to become a complex organisational entity. The
laboratories have at present a floor area of about 3,500 square metres with hi-
tech equipment worth over seven millions of US dollars and have more than 30
technical staff. These laboratories have been serving thousands of users and
customers, and providing laboratory services for a diverse set of engineering
training, pure and applied research, as well as educational activities for the
university and the local industries in Hong Kong. To deliver good quality
laboratory services with total user and customer satisfaction was the mission
of the laboratories (Chin et al., 1996). In 1994, the Head of the Manufacturing
Engineering Department, Professor K.V. Patri, urged the launch of a quality
improvement programme, Quality Campaign In Manufacturing Engineering
Laboratories (QCIMEL). A results-oriented process approach was adopted to
implement this ongoing programme (Patri, 1994). The design and execution of
the programme coincided to a considerable extent with the SQMS assessment
criteria and requirements. It has seven stages in line with the SQMS 14 steps
(as shown in Figure 3) which is described as follows.

The establishment stage


Step 1: Define corporate values and mission
The vision and mission of the organisation has to be translated into goals and
strategies which have to be linked with the approach the organisation is using
IJQRM
16,6
14.
Stage VII: Achieve
Improvement/ Performance
Breakthrough excellence
through self-assessment
622 • Quality development
• Quality maintenance
• Quality improvement

Stage VI: 12. Promote 13. Recognise


Recognition good practices quality efforts

ents
and reinforce with rewards
achievement and motivation
equirem
Stage V: 11. Standardise improved
Audit procedures and practices

ISO 9000
10. Measure results and
benchmark achievements
Safety R

Stage IV: 9. Execute planned actions and


Execution recommend positive changes

and ISO
8. Suggest improvement and
ental and

breakthrough actions

Stage III: 7. Manage critical processes

14000 Sta
Investigation and performance
Environm

Stage II: 5. Provide training 6. Deploy and


Promotion of tools and empower staff
methods capabilities

4. Promote quality culture ndards


and team-building
Quality,

Stage I: 3. Develop objectives and


Establishment identify critical process

1. Define corporate 2. Establish Steering


Figure 3. values and mission Committee
Fourteen steps of SQMS
implementation

for its self-assessment. The management of the laboratories has set forth a clear
mission statement as to ``develop a lively culture towards quality improvement
through effort, so that the traditional, hierarchical and top-down ethos of
laboratory management could be complemented by a worker-oriented and
bottom-up activity'' (Patri, 1994). This allowed all laboratory staff (including
academic staff, administrative staff, technicians and labourer), students,
suppliers and visitors to visualise the mission, culture and commitments of the
laboratories.
Step 2: Establish steering committee Self-assessed
A steering committee was formed in the fall of 1994 to design, plan and manage quality
the quality programme. It was composed of a chairman and six senior management
laboratory staff. The committee members evaluated the current status of the
laboratories, determined its strengths and weaknesses, sought opportunities
for improvements, prepared quality plans with the divisions and personnel
concerned, and provided new motivation for the improvements. They are, for 623
instance, to identify improvement needs at both managerial and shop-floor
levels; to obtain agreements between the management and shop-floor staff
regarding the scope and objectives of improvement efforts; and to develop an
employee-led process for improvement.

Step 3: Develop objectives and identify critical processes


The steering committee developed quality goals and objectives, and
performance improvement guidelines in conjunction with the corporate values
and mission. The success elements were investigated and critical processes
identified. This covered the design, planning, operations, delivery,
maintenance, control and monitoring aspects, as well as the performance audits
of the processes, products and services provided by the laboratories. The
committee made the general descriptions of the self-assessment criteria more
specific to fit their situation and giving them meaning within the context of the
operations. It was important for the management, supervisory and other
laboratory staff to know which constituent parts require development of
documentation and conformity to quality, environmental, and safety
management standards.

The promotion stage


Step 4: Promote quality culture and team-building
A series of quality-awareness seminars and experiences-sharing talks were
conducted for laboratory staff by both internal trainers and invited external
quality professionals from industries. Quality management concepts and team
practices (such as bottom-up quality culture, leadership, team building and
quality control circles) were conveyed, and technical visits to the leading local
companies were arranged. Three work teams and several task forces were
formed according to their skills and different operational requirements.
Facilitators were assigned by the steering committee to help direct the
administration and improvement efforts of individual teams.

Step 5: Provide training of tools and methods


Team members received sufficient training in applying practical skills,
methods and techniques (such as problem solving techniques, quality control
tools, 5S concepts and implementation, the use of the new or revised work
instructions, reporting techniques and meeting management) in their job-
related areas. The quality policies in laboratories and the conformity
requirements of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 were included in the training
IJQRM programmes. Regular safety workshops were arranged to strengthen the team
16,6 members' knowledge and skills on handling quality and safety problems. In
addition to in-house training, team leaders and some supervisory staff were
sent for outside assessor and leadership training in order to create expertise
and gain experience in the self-assessment process. These staff members
formed the critical mass within the organisation to start internal assessor
624 training for other team members.

Step 6: Deploy and empower staff capabilities


The management have delegated authorities and deployed resources to teams
and work forces in conjunction with the execution of improvement tasks and
activities. The Steering Committee reviewed the progress of individual teams,
advising any amendments to the management for better deployment of
resources. Motivation and morale support were initiated from the top, and then
put forth the different divisions of the laboratories. Co-ordination and co-
operation amongst different functional areas (such as design, operations and
maintenance) were encouraged and reinforced. Moreover, it was also found
important to empower employees with authority and sufficient resources, in
particular allowing supervisory staff and team leaders the necessary time
required for the self-assessment activities.

The investigation stage


Step 7: Manage critical processes and performance
With clear guidance and support, all work teams and task forces were
encouraged to initiate projects and plans regarding the improvement of
processes, operations and procedures in their work places. The core
requirements of design quality, prevention, conformance and documentation
were emphasised. In order to diagnose the improvement opportunities and
analyse problematic areas, information of processes performance were
acquired, and relevant standards, specifications, tools and methods were
employed. The identified items were prioritised according to the users' and
customers' requirements, the time and resource constraints as well as the
environmental, safety and hygiene concerns. The process plans of self-
assessment were then developed and the adopted methodologies were agreed.

The execution stage


Step 8: Suggest improvements and breakthrough actions
Both improvement and problematic areas were segregated to determine
whether the ``Kaizen-type'' of improvements or breakthrough actions or both
were applied. There have been a number of positive suggestions on the
improvement of work environments (particularly in safety and hygiene) and
minimisation of work inefficiency. Detailed action plans were scheduled with
the consensus and support from all functional areas concerned. Appropriate
procedures were prepared and work instructions revised in line with the users'
feedback and requirements (such as due dates and schedules of laboratory Self-assessed
experiments). quality
management
Step 9: Execute planned actions and recommend positive changes
A number of improvement projects of both technical and non-technical nature
(for instance, the Users' Lockers Improvement Project, the Road Sign Project,
the Laboratory Communication System and the Laboratory Security System) 625
have been implemented successfully in the laboratories. Improvement and
corrective actions were carried out and their progress was reviewed. The
results addressed team effectiveness, which in turn stimulated team efforts and
encouraged feedback in performance improvement. Accompanied with these
positive changes, improved processes and guidelines for documentation control
(such as the approval, issue, distribution, updating and retrieval of documents)
were established. Co-ordination and support from other functional areas and
academic staff were also reinforced.

The audit stage


Step 10: Measure results and benchmark achievements
Regular performance assessments and audits were carried out and users'
feedback were stressed. Deviations from the predetermined objectives were
explained, and achievements were benchmarked against other laboratories
within the university and other ``best-in-class'' performances in industry.
Improvements of quality efforts were attained through better discipline and
organisation of workplace and maintenance of standardised conditions in the
laboratories. Continual management reviews of results also enforced the
performance improvement effectively. Moreover, self-assessment practices
have become regular activities to measure the quality maturity of the
laboratories.

Step 11: Standardise improved procedures and practices


All positive changes and improvements were audited in line with the corporate
mission and operational objectives. They were documented, and eventually
became new operational and self-assessment processes. The results of self-
assessment were used to refine the quality goals, enhance customer values and
eliminate customer complaints. Besides, useful data and information were
processed and shared among all functions to create organisational learning
throughout the laboratories.

The recognition stage


Step 12: Promote good practices and reinforce achievements
Performance improvements encouraged the positive changes in quality culture
across the laboratories. Good quality practices were reinforced with emphasis
being placed on enhancement of customer value, employee satisfaction,
supplier relationship, safety, productivity and operational performances of the
laboratories. The self-learning among laboratory staff has been stimulated, and
IJQRM the creation and transfer of good practices throughout the laboratories was also
16,6 facilitated.

Step 13: Recognise quality efforts with rewards and motivation


Continuous quality efforts were explicitly rewarded. Management appreciation
honoured these work teams and individuals for recognition of their efforts in
626 achieving predetermined targets of improvement performance. This stimulated
the teams and individuals to perform even better, and also encouraged others to
participate actively in the improvement activities. Positive recognition and
feedback of quality efforts were important for organisational learning and as
stimulus to create structured, planned and continued improvement activities
throughout the laboratories.

The improvement/breakthrough stage


Step 14: Achieve performance excellence through self-assessments
The management has recognised the importance of self-assessments and linked
the achievements to the related review process and strategic planning for the
laboratories. The self-assessment procedures were properly established
according to the periodically updated quality manual. The QCIMEL
programme has created a motivating environment in which staff members
voluntarily applied more discretionary effort and boosted their performance.
Eventually, individual teams decided the processes and improvement activities
which they committed to, and became the autonomous entities to work upon
their own improvement projects and plans. In addition, a committed
management role also encouraged total employee involvement and facilitated
group efforts on quality development, maintenance and improvement efforts
throughout the laboratories.

Evaluation of SQMS implementation


Several variables and a host of factors (such as organisational resources,
commitment of management, state of operations, health of equipment, impact
of changes, communication between departments, time spent on training,
employee resistance, conflicting interpretation and so on) affected the
implementation pace of the quality programme. Its effectiveness was evaluated
by the management, taking all these variables and factors into consideration
and emphasising customer satisfaction, safety, operational and financial
performance. The benefits of QCIMEL implementation have been
overwhelmingly positive in the laboratories, especially in encouraging culture
change, achieving performance, enhancing safety operations and alleviating
the fire-fighting problems (Chin et al., 1996; Pun, 1998). Successful cases of
quality and productivity improvements were becoming increasingly numerous
and impressive. Staff were actively involved in the ongoing improvement
processes. Their attitudes have been changed positively towards quality
improvement, their morale and efficiency been improved on shared tasks and
team activities. These changes revolved around a cultural shift to total quality
management and total employee involvement. Furthermore, new improvement Self-assessed
projects (for instance, the WWW-based Inquiry System and the MEL Library quality
System for Purchase Catalogue) were developed, and many suggestions and management
correction actions were implemented. Defects and non-conformance were
reduced at various operation levels from designs and resource planning
through installation, to servicing and administration. Self-assessment practices
stimulated performance improvement and created a strong link to the business 627
results of MEL. Members of the Steering Committee have recently rated the
MEL performance in a range of scores from 700 to 750 out of 1,000 points on the
SQMS scale. Considerable high scores were achieved in several areas using the
SQMS criteria of Senior Executive Leadership, Human Resource Focus, Process
Analysis and Management, Operations and Business Results and Employee
Satisfaction. The results encouraged further initiatives for continuous
performance improvement and helped the laboratories to re-track its current
operations and deliver ever-improving value to users and customers
(Pun, 1998).

Conclusion
With the proliferation of several quality awards and standards, many
organisations have taken the initiative to employ different awards and
standards in one form or another to sustain competitive edge. The ultimate
objective of a self-assessed quality management system is to assist the
organisation in its quest for corporate performance, business results and
financial health. It can be achieved through proceduralising organisational
activities and increasing uniformity and conformity of repeated tasks (van der
Wiele et al., 1997). Quality-led organisations should have clear core values and
achievable objectives. The management should drive the quality initiatives,
and link them to the TQM-oriented assessment criteria and compliance
requirements. However, if quality efforts focus primarily on conformity and
documentation, there may be separation between quality management and
overall business management, reversing a trend toward their better integration.
It is therefore best to establish and maintain a total systems approach with
strong self-assessment orientation. Otherwise, this may result in fragmentation
of efforts, slow response and weak productivity growth within the
organisations (Reimann and Hertz, 1993).
Self-assessment is more than just another fad, it is a management approach
based on a mission to aim for business excellence (Beasley, 1994; van der Wiele
et al., 1997). The proposed SQMS codifies the principles of TQM in clear and
accessible language, and also provides companies with a comprehensive
framework for assessing their progress towards the new paradigm of
management and commonly acknowledged goals of customer satisfaction and
increased employee involvement. It adopts the evaluation principles and
framework compatible to that of MBNQA and has a wider system integrity.
The SQMS criteria can be used for self-assessment of a company's performance
on an ongoing basis and internal benchmarking of business results. Their uses
IJQRM can also be extended for external comparisons with other organisations. The
16,6 system provides a useful framework for addressing the establishment and
maintenance of TQM-oriented mission, objectives and targets that state a
commitment to a specified level of performance, an integrated planning process
and strategy for meeting this stated performance commitment, and a
participative organisational structure for executing the strategy. Moreover, it
628 also helps develop the results-oriented implementation programmes and
related support tools to assist in meeting these stated objectives, provide the
communications and training programmes to execute the policy commitment,
and make effective use of customer-focused measurement and review processes
to monitor progress.
Organisations seeking performance improvements are encouraged to foster
their conformity efforts with the feasible SQMS framework that integrates the
MBNQA criteria and the ISO 19001 and ISO 14001 requirements. The QCIMEL
programme in an engineering organisation has demonstrated a successful
implementation case using the SQMS criteria for performance excellence. How
to integrate the functions and evaluate the business performances would still
need to be determined by individual organisations according to their self-
assessment needs. Nevertheless, the SQMS framework has potential to be
tailored to suit different business and industrial settings and satisfy the varied
organisational structure and management style as well as the economic, social
and cultural practices of employees.
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