Ireland Urged to Focus on Business Competitiveness and Excellence

An Taoiseach welcomes establishment of Centre for Competitiveness (Ireland)

A globally-renowned competitiveness organisation is setting up shop in the Republic of Ireland to replicate its success north of the border in key sectors of the Irish economy, it is announced today.

Launch of Centre for Competitiveness Ireland

Having helped hundreds of Northern Ireland organisations to achieve world-class standards of business excellence for over 20 years, the Centre for Competitiveness is now establishing an office in the Republic of Ireland.

A founding member of the Global Federation of Competitive Councils and a partner of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM), the new Centre for Competitiveness (Ireland) will be located at the CityWest Business Centre, in Dublin, and will promote and implement EFQM’s highly regarded Business Excellence Framework in key sectors and organisations.

The CCI will also provide a range of management development programmes, workshops and consultancy services, designed to improve management and leadership competences; as well as a suite of strategic innovation and organisational performance solutions.

An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D welcomed the establishment of the CCI.  He said: “I would like to wish all those involved in the new Centre for Competitiveness (Ireland) the best of luck as they establish their Dublin office.  I have no doubt you can achieve the same success as you have in other jurisdictions in promoting competitiveness and excellence in business.”

To this end, the CCI will work closely with industry associations, hotel groups, tourism enterprises, SMEs, retailers, government agencies, local government, and trade bodies. A series of workshops on the EFQM Business Excellence framework and its application to these organisations and their management teams will be held nationwide during October 2014. They begin tomorrow (16 October, 2014) at the Clarion Hotel, Liffey Valley.

Chief Executive Officer of EFQM, Marc Amblard, said: “The EFQM Excellence Framework is used by over 30,000 organisations across Europe, and we are delighted to work with the Centre for Competitiveness (Ireland) to enable many more businesses and their leaders on the island of Ireland to benefit from its potential to significantly boost their performance.   The Centre’s success and expertise are recognised across Europe and beyond, and I have no doubt that their presence in the Republic of Ireland will bring considerable benefits to many Irish organisations. Regardless of sector, size, structure or maturity, organisations need to establish appropriate management systems in order to be successful. The EFQM Excellence Framework is a practical tool to help organizations do this by measuring where they are on the path to excellence; helping them understands the gaps; and then stimulating solutions”.

Bob Barbour, CforC Chief Executive, says: “Our focus will be to promote and implement the EFQM Framework in a range of businesses and sectors in Ireland, with a particular emphasis on improving management practices, organisational systems and processes and business excellence. Organisations who meet the criteria for business excellence are assessed against international criteria and are accredited and recognised by the EFQM at an annual awards ceremony. The benefits of accreditation are substantial as it provides an international symbol and benchmark, especially for tourism organisations, seeking to source international leisure and business markets.”

The Brussels-based Chief Executive Officer of EFQM, Marc Amblard, and the Chief Executive of CforC, Bob Barbour, officiated at the launch of CCI, by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D.in Government Buildings.

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.

AF Davison_1

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”.

Case Study in Driving SME Growth….

COLERAINE BOROUGH COUNCIL LED COMPETITIVENESS PROGRAMME

PROGRAMME CASE STUDY – 1 NOVEMBER 2012 TO 31st December 2012

Project Title – thinkBIG:thinkINNOVATION Programme

 Background and Context

This was an EU and DETI-NI part funded programme led by Coleraine Borough Council in partnership with the Centre for Competitiveness.  In line with the programme objectives, ten companies were recruited at the start of the programme. Business baseline profiles were conducted for all 10 participating companies. This profile was the Business Juggler, details are to be found at http://www.businessjuggler.com The Business Juggler report is a 22 page document that sets out: –

i.         Simple benchmark of performance

ii.         Identified 9 areas of strength that can be developed into areas of Competitive Advantage

iii.         Identified 9 Areas of relative Weaker Performance to be developed and improved

iv.         A total of 18 suggestions for performance improvement to kick-start the conversation on Improvement Action Plans

v.         An action plan template

vi.         A comprehensive list of European Best and Better Practice indicators of performance

From the discussions around the Juggler report, a SMARTened action plan is developed with a clear focus through: –

i.         Specific

ii.         Measurable

iii.         Achievable

iv.         Realistic

v.         Time bound

Mentoring Support Delivered

Mentoring was delivered to all participating companies at 24 hours per company, meeting the programme target. In addition, an extra 59 hours of mentoring was delivered to the participating companies.

Best Practice Visits

The programme permitted one best practice, or similar, visit per participating company. The value of visits out to other companies or organisations cannot be underestimated. It always proves to be a source of ideas for improvement and growth.

Summary of Programme Impact of Benefits

At the completion of the programme, a comprehensive ‘Distance Travelled’ form was completed with each participant, which clearly captured all the programme impact, short-term benefits and longer-term outcomes. This is summarised as follows: –

COMPANY

TURNOVER £

INNOVATIONS – NEW PRODUCTS

INNOVATIONS – IMPROVEMENTS

NEW STAFF TAKEN ON OR JOBS CREATED

2012 2011 +/- % Products Lines Variations Projects Value New Jobs

TOTAL

£8339k

£7925k

+5.2%

2

1

18

36

£88k

+9 F/T &

+20 P/T

Company

How satisfied were you with the programme?

How satisfied were you with the mentor?

How would you rate the value of the programme?

How would you rate the effectiveness of the programme?

Have you or your business benefitted from the programme?

Would you recommend the programme to others?

Total Average

81%

87%

78%

77%

100% Yes

100% Yes


COST SAVINGS
– The programme recorded a total of £88,000 of direct cost savings as a result of improvements and projects.JOBS – It is clear that the programme has had impact and brought many different benefits to all of the participants. Overall job creation was +9 Full Time and +20 Part Time new jobs.

SALES INCREASE – The programme recorded an increase of +5.2% sales increase, which equates to an extra £414,000

COMPANY SATISFACTION – 100% of participating companies received benefit and would recommend the programme.

Summary

Overall, it can be said that the programme went very well. In fact it can be considered as a Best Practice case study in the design and delivery of a company growth programme for small and medium sized companies delivered in partnership with a local council. It has applications Ireland-wide, as well as in the UK and further afield.

The question to ask is – ‘Why has this programme been successful when many similar programmes are, at best, average, and often ineffective?’ The answer lies in our experience to design a programme that is relevant and built upon proven method, uses talented people as mentors, and is well managed.

From a programme performance perspective, the metrics are impressive, increased turnover, reduced costs and job creation.

It is true of any programme of this type, when working with a range of companies of different sectors, maturity stages, sizes and experience, that not all companies will benefit in the same way. Some companies may have recorded a decline in sales or fortunes if they had not participated in the programme. It is therefore noteworthy that 100% of companies said they benefited and would recommend the programme to others. Also, the satisfaction levels were all above 75%. The reported creation of 9 F/T and 20 P/T jobs is also a strong indicator of performance.

Companies have been signposted to other opportunities where it is hoped they will continue their journey on using innovation to drive business improvement and business growth.

Dr Adrian Gundy.

Centre for Competitiveness.

1st March 2013.