NI Company Wins Gold for Service Excellence

Northern Ireland company A F Davison Ltd are celebrating after recently becoming the first haulage company in Ireland to win a prestigious EFQM Gold Star for Service Excellence.

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Representatives from the company were invited to attend a special reception at Banbridge District Council Civic Building on Tuesday 16 September where they were honoured by Council Chairman, Councillor Marie Hamilton in recognition of their of achievement.

The EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) Gold Star Excellence programme was a joint business improvement initiative between Banbridge District Council and the Centre for Competitiveness. The programme was designed to aid local companies in implementing effective international customer service practices, thereby benefitting the companies both at home and abroad.

A F Davison Ltd enrolled in the programme in early 2013 and were awarded the Gold Star in June 2014. The company was established over 40 years ago and have proven record in placing a high value on providing the best level of service possible, a fact highlighted by their motto, ‘Dedicated to Service’.

Speaking of their award, Allan Davison, Managing Director of A F Davison commented: ‘‘Here at A F Davison Ltd we pride ourselves on delivering the highest level of service. We really appreciated the support from Banbridge District Council and the Centre for Competitiveness giving us the opportunity to enrol in and complete the EFQM Gold Star Service Excellence programme. Achieving the Gold Star Award is fantastic external recognition of the work we do and the level of service we strive to achieve.  In today’s competitive market it is more important than ever to put your customers first, meeting their needs and more, and so A F Davison Ltd motto continues to be implemented and displayed with pride – Dedicated to Service”.

LEAN for Services, Public Sector and Healthcare

LEAN for Services, Public Sector and Healthcare is an new and insightful approach that brings proven LEAN thinking and practice to service companies and organisations, the Public Sector and to Healthcare Organisations in a way that fits well, using understandable language with Service examples. LEAN methods and practice has long been proven successful in manufacturing environments, but has always struggled to gain anything like the same success in services, public sector and healthcare.

Dr. Adrian Gundy has spent the last twelve months researching into the application of LEAN in service, has developed this new approach and successfully piloted it withProcess Image service organisations. It is not just about changing the terms and examples from manufacturing to service, rather it is about understanding the fundamental shift in thinking and approach. LEAN in manufacturing focuses on flow and inventory, whereas LEAN in service focuses on flow and productivity.

This highly interactive 1-day workshop uses reflective learning, introduces new thinking, learning by participation and doing, team exercises and a DVD training problem to cover a full and focused agenda that covers these subjects: –

  • Introduction to LEAN – setting the context for service
  • The Toyota Way – why the 4Ps work in service
  • The Toyota 14 Principles – and how they are interpreted and used in service
  • Value Stream Mapping for service – using a Canadian healthcare better practice
  • Introduction to the 8 MUDA – in service there are 8 , not 7 as in manufacturing
  • Standardised work training film and team exercise using LEAN A3 template

Towards the end of the afternoon, participants will join together for group work on selected participants internal processes – to apply and consolidate the learning.

Check out the Centre for Competitiveness website here to see when the next open/public workshops are going to be held in both Dublin and Belfast.

Translink Project wins CIPD “Change Programme of the Year 2013” Award


The “Translink Project” is an major organisational development initiative that won the CIPD”Change Project of the Year” Award at the CIPD Northern Ireland Awards 2013. It embraces on-going change, reform and continuous improvement of the business within backdrop of reduced public funding and a challenging economic environment for customers. The “Translink Project” was designed, deployed and managed by Dr Adrian Gundy, from Centre for Competitiveness, to deliver outputs and benefits aligned to the corporate plan, to increase competitiveness and develop business performance through the continuous “pursuit of excellence”. Translink logo

The project aimed to develop “Best in Class” people management practices through the establishment of cross functional project teams to carry out research from world class organizations and use this learning to design and build bespoke solutions to be implemented within Translink. What marks Translink’s approach from others is that it required HR to work with top leaders within the organization to create and implement a Continuous Improvement culture and the climate for high performance. This involved engaging the organization’s Senior Executive Team to sponsor the Project, seconding a senior operations manager into a full time project management role and the deployment of senior business managers as project team leaders.

To maximize the collective contribution of the projects on organization performance, they were organized into four key work streams:

· Performance management

· Leadership and Change

– Employee Engagement and Internal Communications

· Strategic Learning and Development


The key objectives of the project were:

– Establish an appropriate management framework to embed excellence within the organisation.

– Define and create the Translink Leaderships Behavioural Framework to underpin corporate vision and values

– Formulate an appropriate employee engagement and internal communications strategy

– Create systems to drive a high performance culture.

– Create a learning and development strategy linked to organizational business requirements

Project Objectives

The “Translink Project” was designed for helping to embed customer focused growth, service improvements, enhanced commercialisation of services and developing an employer brand which attracts, motivates and retains the best people.

A well-defined project plan was the outcome for a structured planning activity that lasted 4 months (Start up June-Sep 2010) as well as the development of Project Management Translink Project project planskills for the team members.


The most important Stages of the project were:

Stage 1:-  Diagnosing the Change (oct 2010-march 2011). The project teams conducted desk research and benchmarking activity as well as reviewing the “As Is” state within Translink in relation to their work stream area.

Stage 2- : Creating Alignment and Options (march 2011-nov 2011). The project team developed solutions to improve Translink’s people practices in relation to their specific work stream.

Stage 3:-  Making it Happen (nov 2011-march 2013). Communication of project findings and final recommendations to the wider business through a series of road show presentations and briefing sessions followed by a phased implementation of project outputs.

The project governance structure involved:

– Executive Sponsorship and Steering Group: They provided guidance, comment and stage based challenge on the output of each project.

– Project Manager (2 year secondment): The Project Manager was responsible for the delivery of planned milestones on time and to budget.

– Project Team Leaders: The main task of the four project team leaders was that the work stream areas were effectively defined and managed throughout the project lifecycle and that their respective project achieved agreed outcomes.

The execution of this project was supported by the External Support of:

-The Centre for Competitiveness (CforC) provided development, coaching and facilitation throughout the projectCforC logo New

Penna and CforC worked with Group HR to develop an OD strategy and terms of reference for the programme

Ipsos MORI was commissioned to facilitate the Translink employee engagement survey: Your Company – Your Voice

 The main Key barriers to the successful execution of the project were identified and corrective actions designed and implemented: 

– Lack of Awareness and knowledge. Executive updates, lunch and learn workshops, regular team briefs and a dedicated webpage on the company intranet site were used to alert stakeholders after each key project milestone was achieved.

– Lack of Motivation. Project support/compliance was built into the performance objectives of each divisional executive and senior manager.

– Scepticism. Cross-functional teams were formed in which participants from throughout the business developed recommendations based on their own research and benchmarking activity.

– Skills. All project participants attended training on change management. Site visits to EFQM award winning organizations across UK and Ireland took place along with bespoke workshops delivered at Aston Business school. Each project team received on-going coaching support from the Centre for Competitiveness.


Launch of leadership Competency Framework. The framework was used as part of a new Group-wide talent and succession planning process and formed the basis for leadership development centres aimed at assessing the leadership competence of Translink senior managers.

Targeted Learning and Development. A structured leadership and management development curriculum aimed at developing leadership, professional and business skills has been implemented. The launch of a learning and development calendar, targeted strategic development programmes at team leader and supervisory level, the establishment of a strategic partnership with the Ulster Business School and the creation of a female leadership forum have all taken place in 2012.

Implementation of Employee Engagement Survey. This was followed by divisional focus groups and the formation of local action planning teams to drive improvements arising from survey feedback at a local level. A new Group-wide briefing process, ‘Team Talk’, has been implemented.

Implementation of new Performance Management System. An updated system incorporating the three key themes of performance improvement, development, and managing behaviour has been implemented. A training programme supported this for all managers engaged in appraisals.

Key Results.

The project was initiated to improve the change readiness of the organization before progression towards the establishment a Continuous Improvement culture to embed excellence within Translink.

Since the implementation of work stream recommendations the organization has undergone an assessment against the EFQM Excellence Model in which it attained a European Recognized for Excellence Four Stars award.

In addition, Group Human Resources attained an IiP Gold Standard-the most recognized accolade in the UK for business improvement through people. By achieving Gold it is now part of the top 1% of UK organization recognized by IiP.

St Mary’s College wins EFQM Excellence Award for 3rd Time!

In the near 20 years history of EFQM European Excellence Award recognising excellence in the private, public and voluntary sectors, never before has any organisation been recognised with the coveted EFQM European Excellence Prize Winner Award in Sustainable Excellence for three marys college derry logo

St Mary’s won the overall Excellence Award in 2001 and again in 2006. This year, 2013, they are recognised as an EFQM Prizewinner. This remarkable achievement is over an extended period of nearly 14 years, through successful and difficult economic times and challenges, with changing student populations, new school build and a successful succession leadership and management programme.

The Centre for Competitiveness congratulates their Principal Marie Lindsay, her staff, the students and parents and all those connected with the college. Well Done Indeed!