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Business Management

Achieving Business Excellence with the EFQM Model

Posted on May 4, 2023 by Sara Kremsar
1330 | 4 May 2023
Achieving Business Excellence with the EFQM Model

Every organization implements various standards, models, and procedures in its operations. These can be prescribed by the state or serve as tools for achieving competitiveness in the market. The EFQM Business Excellence Model is a framework that provides guidance to the entire company in achieving its goals and finding daily solutions and ways to improve. Organizations are constantly engaged in a dynamic and ever-changing environment, with primary objectives revolving around profitability and sustainability. Sustainability cannot be achieved without quality and business excellence. To continually meet their goals, organizations need a set of principles and values that lead to product and service quality without unnecessary resource consumption. While numerous quality management models and tools exist, the EFQM Business Excellence model comprehensively addresses the topic of business excellence, guiding companies step by step toward achieving their strategic objectives.


The European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) of Excellence is a framework used by well-established companies, not just newcomers in the quality arena. It encompasses all the values of Total Quality Management (TQM) and allows companies to assess their achievements in embedding these values. This model is applicable to all types of organizations.

Business excellence involves systematic management to ensure excellent operating conditions for all stakeholders, ultimately leading to the best possible business outcomes. It requires continuous improvement in all aspects of operations and business results. EFQM is a self-assessment framework for measuring an organization's strengths and areas for improvement in all its activities. The term "excellence" is used because the model focuses on what the organization does or could do to provide excellent service or products to its customers, service users, or stakeholders. EFQM does not prescribe regulations and does not involve strict adherence to a set of rules or standards. However, it provides a broad and coherent set of assumptions about what is needed for a well-organized organization and its management. Each organization can use the model in its way for management and improvement under the control of those who use the methods, rather than external assessors.

EFQM Model

To be successful, an organization must establish an appropriate management system or a comprehensive business model. The EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) Excellence Model is a practical tool that enables organizations to assess their progress toward excellence, identify improvement opportunities, guide them in strategic thinking and alignment, and provide a fundamental structure for their management system. The model aims to promote continuous improvement within organizations. The EFQM Model (2012 version) consists of three parts: fundamental principles of excellence, criteria, and the RADAR logic.

Fundamental Principles of Excellence

The fundamental principles of excellence set the main guidelines for achieving sustainable excellence within organizations and describe the organizational culture. These principles include:

  1. Adding value for customers.
  2. Creating a sustainable future.
  3. Developing organizational capabilities.
  4. Harnessing creativity and innovation.
  5. Leading with vision.
  6. Agility in management.
  7. Achieving success with talented employees.
  8. Sustaining outstanding results.

Criteria of the EFQM Model

The EFQM model encompasses nine criteria, five of which represent enablers (Leadership, People, Strategy, Partnerships and Resources, Processes, Products and Services). These criteria focus on what an organization must do to develop and implement its strategy. The other four criteria represent results (Results-Employees, Results-Customers, Results-Society, Results-Performance), reflecting the outcomes of the enablers, which are improved through feedback from the results.

  • The Leadership criterion measures how well the leader fulfills their role within the organization. Leaders must shape the organization's future, consider its ethics and values, establish and maintain trust, help the organization anticipate events that could negatively impact it, and ensure its ongoing success.
  • The Strategy criterion helps gain insight into whether the company is following its mission and vision. Strategy is the path to the organization's goals, and this criterion measures whether the organization is on the right track and whether all employees are aware of the strategy.
  • The People criterion measures how the organization develops the knowledge and full potential of its employees at the individual, team, and organizational levels.
  • The Partnerships and Resources criterion measures how well the organization manages external partnerships, suppliers, and internal resources that support the company's successful operation.
  • The Processes, Products, and Services criterion evaluates the quality of organizational processes and, consequently, products or services, increasing value for customers and stakeholders.

Figure 1: EFQM Excellence Model Criteria (source: Kern, P., K., 2012)

Achieving Excellence

Excellence is about elevating and upgrading all quality-related activities within an organization to reach the highest standards. It involves exceeding stakeholder expectations, surpassing averages, and striving for the best possible results. Achieving excellence means tangible accomplishments in both what an organization does and how it does it, with a sustained commitment to achieving outstanding results. The "4P" model for building excellence - Leadership, People, Partnerships and Teams, Processes, Products, and Organizational Excellence - emphasizes that excellent products and services result from embedding excellence in people, partnerships, and processes, with solid leadership as the foundation.

Excellence can be attained by:

  • Caring deeply: Excellent people create excellent partnerships, leading to excellent processes and products, defining the characteristics of an excellent organization.
  • Taking calculated risks: Risk-taking often involves transforming relationships among employees, knowledge, skills, and culture, requiring time.
  • Dreaming big: Identifying products that are customers' dreams is essential. Managers must understand customers better than customers understand themselves.
  • Setting high expectations: Continuously exceeding customer expectations is crucial in the new excellence paradigm.


In conclusion, the EFQM Business Excellence Model offers organizations a comprehensive framework for achieving excellence in their operations. It emphasizes the importance of principles such as adding value for customers, sustainability, and harnessing creativity and innovation. By using the EFQM Model, organizations can assess their strengths, identify areas for improvement, and continuously strive for excellence. The model's recent updates in 2020 further enhance its effectiveness in guiding organizations towards sustainable excellence. Achieving excellence is not just about what an organization does but also how it does it, with leadership and a commitment to quality at its core. Embracing the EFQM Model can lead to tangible improvements, exceeding stakeholder expectations, and long-term success in today's competitive business landscape.


What are your thoughts on the subject above? Feel free to post a comment or start a discussion.

TAGS: Business Excellence, EFQM Model, Quality Management, Total Quality Management (TQM), Organizational Excellence, Sustainability, Leadership, Continuous Improvement, Excellence Principles, Strategic Management, Stakeholder Engagement, Process Improvement, Customer Satisfaction, Innovation, Performance Measurement, Organizational Culture, Leadership Development, Business Strategy, Management Systems, European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM), Corporate Excellence, Organizational Performance, Quality Assurance, Best Practices, Benchmarking, Employee Development, Resource Management, Business Process Optimization, Competitive Advantage, Service Quality.

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