Self-assessment entails the methods applied by an organization so as to evaluate its undertakings and performance. It is a tool, which offers essential information and clear answers to most of the common questions regarding the current level of an organization’s excellence (Rusjan, 2005). It is usually in terms of strengths and areas that require improvement regarding the top management’s way of making decisions, and it assists an organization in making choices on the right strategies. For self-assessment purposes, most organizations use the help of various quality awards. The quality awards also assist in improving their competitiveness in the global market (Khoo & Tan, 2003). Most organizations use self-assessment as a process of evaluation against Total Quality Management (TQM). It assists organizations in identifying areas that require future improvement. Through conducting self-assessment, the top management understands the strengths and weaknesses of the organization. It assists them in identifying the suitable remedies and strategies for the organization. It is a necessary task that an organization should execute if it wishes to maintain the required momentum for constant improvement (Ritchie and Dale, 2000).
Additionally, it must be positioned correctly as part of the overall management process (Samuelsson & Nilsson 2002). Management teams of different organizations have different suitable approaches that they should consider. Some of the methods include questionnaire, Matrix, Beta Plus TM, Workshops, pro-forma, and award simulation. The different approaches are supported by different excellence systems including the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) and North of England Excellence (NoEE) (Hides, Davies & Jackson, 2004).
Approaches for Self-Assessment
It involves a set of questions or statements taken from the adopted model of excellence, which respondents can answer easily. The responses differ with the simplest level having Yes-No responses. However, it may also have some complicated questions, which employ the Likert-type interval scales. In addition, some questions require the responses to be given as percentages, ranging from 0 percent to 100 percent, describing the level of deployment of a given approach (Zairi & Whymark, 2003). The questionnaire approach requires very few resources and it is easy to conduct. It offers an excellent method of checking people’s perception about the organization. However, it can also be used together with other approaches, such as the workshops. However, although it is easy to administer, a questionnaire gives the people’s perspective on the issue, but it does not provide a reason for their perspective (Nuland, 1999). The approach has its benefits and limitations.
It is a cost-effective way of identifying performance gaps and generating a quality profile.
- It is a fast approach for comparing an organization against a preferred excellence framework.
- It requires basic training on excellence framework only; hence, minimizing the training requirements.
- It can involve a wide variety of participants in an organization despite their departments or levels.
- It can also complement other approaches
- Questionnaires are prescriptive and do not offer learning opportunities to the respondents
- The results of the questionnaire represent perception but lack validation
- Since people may become conditioned to questionnaires, they cannot be used regularly
- The quality of the questions determine the accuracy and objectivity of the approach
- Ownership of issues is discouraged
- When used as an instrument of survey, low response may raise validity concerns
The matrix approach is named so because it takes the matrix form. Participants provide their views on each statement in every row that closely represents the organization’s current position. The statements indicated in each row show varying levels of implementation of each of the EFQM excellence model’s nine criteria. After selecting the position, the participant selects a score below the box and calculates a score for each criterion. Finally, the scores are summed up to give a total (Porter & Tanner, 2004).
- It requires few resources, easy to use and requires minimum training
- It can be tailored to an organization’s requirements
- It facilitates the understanding of the self-assessment process and excellence criteria.
- It facilitates an efficient process of assessment and fosters objectivity.
- It can be used as a tool for teambuilding and to facilitate team discussions.
- Its output is appropriate for action planning
- The assessment process may not provide the strengths and areas of improvement
- The results depend on the design of the matrix
- If an organization decides to design its own matrix, there are implications regarding high development resources
- It can lead to a prescriptive approach
Comparison and benchmarking against award winners may be difficult as there may not be a one-to-one correspondence between the excellence model criteria and the elements of the matrix (Porter & Tanner, 2004).
Beta Plus TM Approach
Beta plus TM represents “Business Excellence through Action,” and it is based on the EFQM excellence model and its thirty-two criterion parts. It was created by the Excellence Group, in 2004. Its intention is to represent an easy to understand approach towards the organization’s current status against the models criterion. It also represents a way of creating an agreed action plan and prioritized list of improvements. It is a workbook, which has fifty-one questions classified into nine criteria of the EFQM model of excellence. Participants complete the workbook, and it is developed around the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) methodology. The key stages in the use of the workbook are the diagnostic stage and the action-planning stage (SAI Global, 2007).
- It is inexpensive and simple
- It gets into details when examining the issues in organizational excellence
- It is confined to the North of England region; hence, its authenticity is questionable
- It lacks actions of identifying whether the management implements the agreed action, or if implemented, how it should be monitored.
Workshop – Evidence Based Approach
The approach takes place as a workshop, where self-assessment participants meet for an initial awareness training session. Afterwards, they spend time collecting factual data from the organization in regard to each of the nine EFQM excellence model criteria. After data collection, the participants meet again and perform a detailed self-assessment of the organization. They create and reach consensus on a list of the strengths and improvement areas based on the collected information. They, subsequently, prioritize the areas that require improvement and develop action plans. The approach is highly recommended for management teams (Porter & Tanner, 2004).
- It does not have major training needs
- It encourages the ownership of the self-assessment process and the outcomes
- It provides an opportunity for team building
- Scoring is of secondary importance to the team discussions, which highlight the areas that require improvement and assist in developing a common view
- It results in the development of an agreed upon list of improvement areas
The insight and knowledge of the group determines the assessment’s correctness. Therefore, the group should contain the experience and a range of experiences, which will allow a meaningful addressing of the criteria.
- Sometimes it is difficult to assess the evidence of the extent of dependence
- The facilitator’s skills and influential power have a high impact on the outcome
It requires an initial session for training after which the participants should spend time collecting factual data. They should hold interviews with other members of the organization and complete thirty-two pages of a pro-forma. Each one of the thirty-two pages of the pro-forma relates to the thirty-two classifications of the EFQM excellence model. Participants should assess each page of the pro-forma individually and meet and get into a consensus, before producing a final report (Tuominen, 2012).
Its results may be objective and can be compared with the results generated by the award simulation process.
- The results of the exercise highlight the key strengths and areas of improvement that act as the basis of action planning
- It can involve various ranges of people at different stages of the process
- It encourages the collection of fact-based data in less time than the award simulation process.
The pro-forma may be completed in a superficial basis; hence, jeopardize the outcomes of the assessment. As a result, it requires strong and efficient facilitation.
- It may give an unfinished impression of the organization
Award Simulation Approach
The approach requires two sessions of training. One session is usually for the participants of the self-assessment exercise. They assume the responsibility of writing and awards submission style document. The second training session is usually for another group of participants whose role involves the assessment of the submission document. The participants who should write the submission document ought to collect factual data and hold interviews with other organization members first. It is followed by the writing of the document for award submission based on the EFQM excellence model’s thirty-two parts. The documents should be approved by the management before the other team of participants assesses the documents. They initially assess the documents individually and then reach a consensus as a group. They write their findings in a feedback report and present it to the organization’s management team. A follow-up meeting is arranged in order to prioritize the issues that require improvements and develop action plans (Touminen, 2012).
- It provides inclusive understanding of an organization’s performance and capability.
- It generates details on the areas of improvement and strengths of the organization.
- Its self-assessment results are comparable, directly, to actual award assessments.
- It provides a reference document that has a powerful message.
- The output contains high quality details for the action planning process.
- It is time consuming and requires multiple resources
- The criteria writing may influence its objectivity, reducing it.
- If used at an inappropriate stage in the organization’s journey to excellence, it may distract important developmental activities.
Effective Approach to Self-Assessment
An effective approach to self-assessment begins with the organization gaining leadership commitment for using self-assessment as a tool for achieving business excellence. The organization should, then, identify appropriate business units for conducting pilot studies and self-assessment. It should establish a model for reporting and self-assessment (Clark & Baker, 2004). It also involves establishing the team that will take the responsibility for managing the self-assessment process in the organization. The organization should also design the appropriate record forms and establish a method of scoring achievements (Dodangeh, Rosnah, Ismail, Biekzadeh, & Jassbi, 2012). There is communication of the objectives and plans of the self-assessment process should be done throughout the organization. It should be followed by the training of the employees and facilitators who should be involved in the self-assessment process. After the exercise of self-assessment is conducted, the people involved should agree on action plans, showing responsibilities, priorities and milestones for all the actions. The organization’s improvement teams should be given their responsibility and accorded all the appropriate resources in order to implement actions according to the strategic direction and action plans. Finally, the entire self-assessment process should be subject to regular reviews (EFQM, 2003).
A general process that can be used when conducting self-assessment should involve the following steps (Zairi, 2003):
- Develop commitment.
- Plan and resource the assessment.
- Communicate the intentions.
- Collect data and conduct the assessment.
- Identify strengths and areas for improvement.
- Create the consistency for external comparison through consensus scoring.
- Benchmark the scores against internal and external centres of excellence.
- Develop improvement plans.
- Implement the plans.
- Review the experience, typically once per year or every two years.
- Re-assess the processing starting at Step 2.
After conducting the self-assessment using the steps, the final step should be improved based on findings and knowledge gained from the self-assessment. In order to achieve the improvements, there must be the development and implementation of action plans, based in the strengths and areas of improvement highlighted in the results from the evaluation.
A Plan for Applying Self-Assessment for Dubai Model for Government Services
The Dubai Model for Government Services has adopted three unified tools for the assessment of the government services. These tools are; self-assessment tool, unified customer assessment tool, and the efficiency tool. In order for it to apply self-assessment, it should follow a plan that will guarantee the effectiveness of the tools. Its self-assessment criteria have several components, which consist of; the assessment criteria, tool scale, baseline, improvement objective, and assessment frequency. The assessment criteria show all the government criteria for model government service delivery and are divided into six perspectives. Perspective one has six criteria, perspective two has nine criteria, perspective three has sixteen criteria, perspective four has eighteen criteria, perspective five has eleven criteria and the sixth perspective has nine criteria. The tool scale demonstrates the degree of implementation of each one of the criterion for government service delivery in the assessed service center, and it has five levels described in the table below;
|Level (1)||100%||The criterion is always conducted at the service center|
|Level (2)||75%||The criterion is most of the time developed at the service center|
|Level (3)||50%||The criterion is sometimes implemented at the service center|
|Level (4)||25%||The criterion is rarely implemented at the service center|
|Level (5)||0%||The criterion is never implemented in at the service center|
|N/A||When it is not possible to implement the criterion at the service center|
Table 1: Self-Assessment Tool Scale Levels
The baseline entails the actual results that the service center obtains at the government entity after implementing the tool for the first time. It also contains the date in which the measurement was conducted. The improvement objective is a specific target that a government entity plans to achieve in the assessed service center and during the subsequent time according to the adopted measurement periodic measurement. Various factors should be considered when setting the future target;
- The government entity’s vision and goals in service delivery
- The performance of the service center in the previous years
- The integral capabilities and available resources for the government entity
- Other factors within and outside the government entity, and also regional and international benchmarking
Assessment frequency is the rate of occurrences that are adopted for the self-assessment process. According to the entity, it may be an annual or half-yearly process. Below is a recommended plan that will be efficient for the organization in its application of self-assessment;
The first step is to select a team of people from the organization, who will conduct the self-assessment exercise. The group should consist of people who possess the expertise and skills required to coordinate the processes, which will be involved. Some of the processes that may require coordination on the engagement of other members of staff in the examination of the exercises and criteria, conducting interviews and deciding on the policies, records and other documents might need revision or examination. Since the Dubai Model for Government Services is a large organization, it requires the cooperation of a large number of people. In addition, the team should consist of people with diverse qualifications, expertise and job functions. An all-inclusive team should have leadership personnel, administrative staff and service delivery employees.
After selecting a team, the approach of conducting self-assessment should be selected. A combination of some of the approaches discussed earlier on should be considered. The method could involve getting feedback from the employees, the management, board of directors or management, and clients. There could also be a desktop review of the policies and procedures of the organization, in addition to conducting workshops or meetings where the team members discuss the organization’s strengths and the areas that require improvements. The most appropriate method for the Dubai Model for Government Services is a workshop (evidence-based), as it also creates a team building opportunity. In addition, questionnaires should also be used as they will assist in the collection of the information. The questionnaires should be based on the organization; therefore, they will complement the interviews.
The team should be aware of the self-assessment exercise and its importance to them and the organization. Additionally, it should be made clear, why their involvement is essential. Once they understand, it makes it easy for them to participate. Where necessary, the self-assessment team should be trained on the application of the chosen method. In this case, the team members should be trained on the way that the workshop should be conducted. They should also learn the manner in which they will collect factual data from the employees. The team should be familiarized with the selected self-assessment approach. The team members should also determine the level of each criterion as given in the tool scale Table 1. It should be a match to the actual level of implementation of each criterion.
The team members should embark on the analysis of data and information for each of the standards and criteria agreed upon by the team. The team members should collect the information individually from the other employees using interviews and questionnaires. The interviews should be close-ended so as to ensure that they cover all the important issues that relate to the self-assessment. Once the information is collected, the team members should share and discuss the collected information. Additionally, they should also review the information for the purposes of validation and generate a consensus on all the sets of data collected.
Once they analyze and validate the information, they should fill out the implementation levels of each other criteria selected previously. Where the criterion is not applicable, they should select N/A. They should add detailed comments on each of the levels of implementation of the criterion, and other comments that may assist in the implementation process. The notes should be detailed in order to assist in determining the areas that may require improvement. They should calculate the total sum of the actual implementation of all the assessed criteria. If it is the tool’s first implementation, the team should fill in the baseline column, or in other cases, the information should be filled out in the actual results column. An analysis of the results should follow, which will identify the strengths and weaknesses that will be used when setting the priorities for improvement. After analyzing the results, the team should identify the actual strengths and areas that require improvements, and prepare an action plan for rectifying the areas of weakness.
Effective Excellence Strategy for Transforming the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority (DTMFZA)
The DTMFZA was established in 2000 as a governmental authority that would assume the municipal role in the projects, which are under its jurisdiction. The authority could compete with other entities through handling projects covering about ten percent of Dubai, and thirty percent of the urban area. It is the sole independent regulator of the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone. Its establishment purpose was to promote Dubai as a globally competitive hub for knowledge-based industries. It would assist in driving Dubai’s sustainable growth through the development and operation of free zone business parks with a dedication to these industries. It has attracted more than 3,600 companies, which are benefiting from the free zone status, unique cluster environment, world class infrastructure, and business-friendly environment. Its vision entails being a world-class regulatory agency, which fosters cluster-based development and contributes the future of Dubai and United Arab Emirates. Its mission entails developing a favorable regulatory environment for sustainable development of industries while harmonizing the interests of the stakeholders.
Phase 1: Current Phase Assessment
The first phase entails understanding the authority’s current status that needs to be improved. It will require the implementation of two steps. The authority will initiate a baseline study, where the team will study the performance of the current performance services offered by the authority. In order to assess the current status, there will be self-assessment and also an assessment of the view of the clients. The inputs and outputs of the authority in terms of services will also be analyzed, and it will also assess the authority’s compliance with the standards set. The second step entails understanding the needs and expectations of the clients. Since its clients consist of other organizations and businesses, the assessment will entail their expectations from the authority. These needs and expectations will be essential in determining the areas that require improvements.
Phase 2: Planning Service Improvement
The planning phase entails a determination of how the services will get implemented after improvements. Since the authority has identified what the clients need and expect from it, it will be easy to formulate the future of the services. It will include identifying future objectives such as the creation of new departments and specialization. As a result, the clients will deal with departments that offer services fast due to specialization. It will also check other areas that require improvements, then prioritize the improvement needs, and finally develop a plan for service improvement. The planning will entail strategies and possible risks that may be encountered during the improvement process.
Phase 3: Implementation
The third phase entails the transformation of the plan prepared in phase 2. In order to implement the plan, DTMFZA will need to plan proper communication channels, set aside a team for overseeing the implementation, determine how to manage change and risks, and ensure flexibility towards the plan. Communication about the changes should be done to all the relevant parties. An implementation team should be selected and it should be given the necessary resources to conduct their work. The authority should ensure that all the parties are ready for a change as resistance from change may deter the implementation process. It should also have proper channels of dealing the risks that may emanate from the changes. Finally, the actual implementation of the changes should be done.
Phase 4: Monitoring and Follow-Up
The fourth phase aims at ensuring that the implementation is conducted well and moves towards the desired direction. The authority will need to follow-up all the activities, write reports and recommendations on necessary changes, and update the plan for improvement with new changes. The follow-up will entail auditing the processes and procedures introduced against the plan. The team that conducts the follow-up should document reports, which will ensure that the authority understands the progress and impact of the changes. If there are other issues that the authority should work on, the improvement plan should be updated.
Phase 5: Continuous Learning
Continuous learning entails being updated on the issues that the authority deals with, even after the implementation of the changes. In order to guarantee continuous learning, a select team should assess the final results of the follow-up stage. It should be availed to relevant people so as to ensure that the all the members of the organization understand the effected changes. Additionally, the authority should celebrate the success in different ways; hence, ensuring that the people feel recognized for their contribution and they also own the change. Finally, there should be continuous follow-up on and update of new changes.
Organizations need to keep improving their services and standards in order to remain relevant and competitive in the industry. As a result, they need to keep assessing their activities through the process of self-assessment. It has various methods that can be used to achieve the purpose. The main purpose is identifying the organization’s strengths and the areas that require improvement. As organizations strive to become competitive at a global level, it becomes important to have an approach that is compatible with business excellence criteria. Therefore, an approach that an organization selects should be compatible. When selecting the approach, the organization ought to consider its position and ensure that the approach is compatible with its management strategy. In order for Dubai Model for Government Services to develop a self-assessment plan, it has to focus on the available approaches and its purpose and management strategy. It is also important to ensure that the approach is compatible with its vision. Finally, the main purpose of self-assessment is to improve the services of the organization. As a result, the organization should ensure that it plans and achieves the improvement plan.