In my 30+ years of experience, looking at various companies across the globe, it seems one thing is a constant – businesses are yearning to achieve business excellence. While companies follow many paths to get there, more and more how they operate in the digital world helps define their business excellence strategies.
What is business excellence?
It may seem like jargon, but business excellence can be defined. The European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) defines it as, “Outstanding practices in managing the organization and achieving results, all based on a set of eight fundamental principles.”
What are principles? They’re also defined by EFQM as “results orientation; customer focus; leadership and constancy of purpose; management by processes and facts; people development; partnership development and public responsibility.” EFQM brings together organisations striving for Sustainable Excellence. In this, they are like the Malcom Baldrige Award.
Business excellence is closely related to Organizational Excellence and Performance Excellence. In the quality management world, these concepts embrace the practices, standards, procedures, protocols, guides, and processes that enable customer needs to be met, enable employees to be effectively productive as they operate within good business practices (e.g. Good Manufacturing Practices, Good Laboratory Practices, Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, etc.), and develop supplier relationships that assure material and services are available when they’re needed.
This, in turn, helps assures that waste is reduced, and profits are maximized while meeting customer and business environment requirements.
The digital workplace
Electronically, your company plans, shares, completes processes, and stores documents and records. It keeps employees productive on-the-go.
Think about the world prior to the digital workplace – before clouds, networks, servers, scans and the like. Companies once relied on file cabinets, faxes, and other hard copy formats to provide information to their employees. Today, employees have digital footprints.
Meetings and presentations
Let’s look at just one example: presentations. The training (executive meetings, all-employee discussions, etc.) used to be a lot more work. Back before the digital workplace slide decks meant exactly that … presentations composed of photographic slides, projected using an overhead or slide projector. Sometimes people holding these meetings had paper documents they handed out as well. For several meetings, it required significant set-up time and repeated information. Imagine if it was global! Employees would be flown around the world.
Today, we use software (PowerPoint), smartphones and laptops, webinars, video meetings (such as Skype) to share information. Spreadsheets, databases, and analytical software can be used – real-time – to mine data together. Dashboards can be quickly shown to focus on key performance indicators (KPIs). Having a centralized format by which information is entered and presented provides better communication – getting people on the same page. Better business decisions can be reached, too because employees have better access to real-time data, making decisions together.
These presentations are added to an intranet where they’re made available, sometimes even globally, 24/7.
That saves an amazing amount of time and money. It’s also a lot more convenient for everyone, too.
But presentation is just one example. And it goes to what my role is in companies. I help identify issues that relate to business excellence.
Onboarding a new hire
You just hired a new employee. Your company has requirements to protect your new employee as well as the organization. Your new hire will need to complete forms and take training, maybe even some of that is related to safety.
While someone is probably helping with some on-the-job training, there’s also an expectation that this person will be able to find their way without too much hand-holding.
That’s where a functional intranet comes in handy with online availability.
Training, forms, procedures, work instructions, answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ), interactive chats, messages from your CEO to welcome them, and other innovative tools can be located on the company’s intranet. Suddenly, your new employee is able to not only get the information needed to do their job as well as keep them safe, but they’re learning more about the company – the vision, the brand, the mission, and even specific goals. Now imagine, this new employee had access using his or her mobile phone, to view organizational information at home.
Think of how productive this new employee would be!
Business excellence is about providing people the information and tools they need to do their jobs effectively. Besides, getting a new hire started on the right foot can save money in the long run, such as reducing turnover.
Handling important projects to meet company goals
You have a team that’s been formed to address a new or ongoing issue, and that issue may prevent your company from meeting its goals. Whether this team is located in one building or in offices across the globe, an intranet can help them, too.
Online, there should be a place where people share project documents and record important steps and decisions for accountability. Ideally, there’s a place that enables people to get real-time information, too. That team should be able to collaborate.
This accountability helps protect the company while offering real-time tools for productivity. It keeps your project team in communication – no matter where they’re located. And all of these factors enable your employees to handle this important project.
Remote and deskless workers
Remote workers — employees and consultants — as well as partners need access to applicable company information, even outside of work hours.
They can use a VPN, but many “intranets” are also extranets and available on mobile devices. Microsoft security models enable people access – based on the parameters you’ve identified. And you can determine the acceptable mobile devices. That means remote workers and partners have access to appropriate information, anytime, anywhere.
Providing access increases their productivity, but also the company’s. Imagine a snowstorm or doctor’s appointment that keeps people from getting to work. Instead of having several hours of missed productivity, work can still get done for the company … even from their smartphone.
Business excellence includes an intranet
I’ve never walked into an organization that has reached the end of their business excellence pursuit because it’s a goal that improves all company interactions, including safety and quality. Getting there takes multiple tools and the intranet, properly implemented, is one of those tools.
With a well-designed intranet, employees can meet objectives, goals, and tasks. That means your finance team can access correct information. Purchasing employees know what to purchase. Operations understands the tasks they need to do as well as who’s doing them. Resources across the company have insight into strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Employees have business acumen. People can determine risks and problem-solve, even collaboratively, to resolve issues.
An intranet builds a commonly-shared community where the right people have the right tools at the right time. That’s business excellence that enables productivity and data sharing in a world where data is the currency that makes or companies competitive or not. It keeps companies safe, people safe, and reduces overall cost.
And that’s what business excellence is all about.