National Quality Awards, a journey towards excellence
The quality revolution of the 1990s enhanced the importance of
quality considerations in developing strategic processes of
This has led to a situation of considering the mechanisms and tools
needed to improve and develop the quality of products and services
within an organisation. This has become one of the most important items
in the agenda of business sectors and as a result organisations started
to develop or introduce quality management concepts to reduce waste and
to improve the bottom line.
Many organisations are interested in improving the quality of
products and services in view of the stiff competition in the markets.
In this connection, organisations started to systematise the processes
while giving due consideration to the needs and wants of customers when
making products and services.
Considering this important trend in 1995, the Sri Lanka Standards
Institution (SLSI) set up the Sri Lanka National Quality Award (SLNQA)
to enable organisations to follow best practices in Quality Management.
Most National Quality Awards include performance in implementation of
Quality Management practices to ensure that the organisation moves in
the right direction.
This concept has been taken into consideration by experts and for
example, the criteria for the Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award
changes on a yearly basis depending on the changing needs of the
The award promotes awareness of quality as an increasingly important
element in competitiveness, promotes understanding of the need for
performance excellence, recognises organisations that excel in quality
management activities, recognises quality achievements and successful
quality strategies of Sri Lanka organisations. The award also helps
elevate quality systems and to share information on successful
performance strategies and benefits derived from the implementation of
The awards are National quality award, Merit award and Commendation
Award categories include manufacturing, service, healthcare and
Evaluation is based on the Malcolm Baldrige national quality award of
the USA. The Sri Lanka National Quality Awards has seven evaluation
criteria, and a 1000 point scoring system and a five-level judging
process embedded into the system The company's leadership system, values
expectations and public responsibilities.
Strategic planning presents many companies with an enigma, and
manufacturing plants often find difficulty in the transition from an
operational to a strategic way of thinking. Attempts to effectively
implement such plans often fail.
Some companies merely go through the motions of strategic planning as
part of their corporate requirement. Plans developed by senior
executives in isolation, printed on glossy paper and handed down to
employees for implementation seldom succeed. A lack of understanding,
commitment and participation by employees causes plans to lose momentum
Customer and market focus: The manner of determining customer needs
and the mechanisms used by the company to focus on customers are covered
under this requirement.
Measurement: The effectiveness of measurement and its analysis to
support customer driven-performance excellence and market place success.
Human resource focus: The success of efforts to realise the full
potential of the workforce to create a high performing organisation.
Process management: The effectiveness of systems and processes for
assuring the quality of products and services
Business result: The company's performance and improvement in key
business areas - product and service quality, productivity and operation
effectiveness, supplier quality, financial and marketplace performance
indicators linked to these areas.
The evaluation process consists of five stages such as desk evolution
carried out by individual examiners. Desk evaluation carried out by
those examiners as a team to arrive at consensus. Site evaluations
carried out by the team to adjust scores after verifying and clarifying
A review committee analyses the scores and recommends award
recipients to the panel of judges.
The panel of judges, chaired by a retired judge of the Supreme Court
or Court of Appeal, secedes the award winners, merit winners and
commendation certificate recipients.
Those eligible are organisations that have been in Sri Lanka for a
minimum of three years, and organisations having a quality management
Subsidiaries, divisions or business units of larger organisations are
eligible if they primarily serve either the public or business other
than the parent organisation.
Parent and subsidiary company cannot compete for the award in the
same year. Winners of the award and all its subsidiaries are not
eligible for a second award for five years.
Information contained in applications and obtained during the site
visit will be treated as confidential and will not be released for any
purpose other than the examination review.
Organisations can publicise and advertise the awards. It encourages
other organisations to improve quality management practices to compete
more effectively for future awards.
Organisations could develop advantage over competitors in their
marketing strategy and are eligible to apply for the Asia Pacific
All applicants will receive an official feedback report containing
their strengths and areas for improvement that had been noted in the
This feedback report which is a written assessment by a team of
quality experts can be used as a tool for continuous improvement of the
The writer is the Director General, Sri Lanka Standards Institution