||What is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award?
The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recognizes U.S companies for business performance excellence and competitiveness improvement. The award, first presented in 1988, advances total quality management, or TQM, as an approach for improving the global competitiveness of U.S. companies. The award promotes sharing information on successful performance strategies and on the benefits derived from using those strategies. The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology manages the award process.
How did CH2M HILL become aware of the Malcolm Baldrige Award?
In 1989, CH2M HILL OMI's president asked a management consultant to recommend a way for CH2M HILL to differentiate itself in the marketplace and suggest a means for CH2M HILL to manage anticipated growth. The consultant recommended the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. Like most of the organizations implementing the criteria, we consider them holistic and an integrated framework for operating and managing our organization.
What was CH2M HILL's initial approach for implementing and deploying the criteria?
When CH2M HILL started our Baldrige journey in 1990, we commissioned six "Focus Teams" with multilevel membership, one team for each of the first six categories. The teams had between 7 and 10 members, and each initially was tasked with studying the criteria and making an assessment of processes or approaches relative to the criteria. This was the company’s first self-assessment in 1992. We worked to improve our approaches and made another self-assessment in 1994. Our first application to the national program was in 1997. We also applied in 1998, then again in 2000 when we received a site visit and, eventually, the award.
Why did CH2M HILL OMI apply for the award?
American business and industry have found that poor quality costs them as much as 20 percent of their sales revenue. They also found increased productivity, lower costs, and increased profitability go hand-in-hand with improved quality, better service and satisfied customers.
CH2M HILL OMI is faced with the same challenges as many U.S. companies. We are challenged with providing higher-quality services for our customers while reducing costs and winning against the competition. As a company that is dedicated to continuous improvement through empowered teams, the company uses the Baldrige criteria and applied for the award as a means of measuring our performance and benchmarking ourselves against world-class companies. The feedback received is a valuable tool for evaluating and improving our business processes and, in turn, achieving one of our company's primary goals: customer satisfaction. Our other goals included enhancing our competitiveness and demonstrating to our employees and customers that quality improvement is not a slogan but the way we do business.
What is the benefit for customers?
By going through the process of applying for the award, we received impartial feedback from world-class quality experts on what we can do to meet our committed goal of providing better service to our customers.
Here’s an example. One of CH2M HILL OMI's Focus Teams, the Customer Satisfaction Focus Team, surveys our customers every other year. In 1994, customers asked us to make facilities look better. They suggested planting more trees and flowers and painting buildings and pipes. CH2M HILL made this suggestion a reality, and the Facilities Appearance Standards Team was formed to set standards for each project to follow. When we surveyed clients in 1996, our score in the facility appearance section rose significantly. When we applied for the Baldrige Award in 1997 and again in 1998, feedback indicated CH2M HILL needed a better method for gathering continuous customer feedback to help us really stay in touch with the dynamic marketplace. As a result, CH2M HILL conducted customer focus group meetings, and developed and implemented a new semi-annual client report card.
In the same manner, CH2M HILL has built on strengths identified in the Baldrige feedback. The award examiners found our Project Manager Intern program to be a valuable tool for project consistency, project manager training and developing career paths. CH2M HILL built on this strength by developing the OMI University leadership training program in 1998. OMI University complements the Project Manager Intern program by providing financial, management and human resources training to incoming project managers in an interactive classroom setting. In 2000, we introduced a second week-long OMI University program to further enhance our managers' skills in the areas such as contract management, safety, and media, customer and community relations. Today, there are four more OMI University programs that address the leadership, administration and employee/labor relations issues that employees face in their jobs. This shows our customers that we staff our projects with well-trained managers that deliver projects that consistently meet CH2M HILL OMI's high standards.
What has CH2M HILL OMI learned from applying?
CH2M HILL OMI applied for the Malcolm Baldrige award in 1997 and 1998, and we received formal feedback reports. Each report is broken down into strengths and areas for improvement in seven categories: leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resources, process management and business results. This comprehensive feedback gives us the opportunity to develop and act immediately upon processes that have the greatest chance of improving customer service and helping the company become more competitive.
As CH2M HILL works to share our success with other companies, it has become one of the founding sponsors for the Colorado Performance Excellence Award. Colorado now joins other states as they strive to advance and recognize the efforts of Colorado organizations' commitment to performance excellence.