Etisalat is a company that offers telecommunication services and solutions to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and is one of the major telecom service providers in the Middle East. Currently, the organization strategy is aimed at concentrating on the company’s vision “to become the leading telecom operator in the Middle East & North Africa”. To kick off the quality process, Etisalat embarked on the following objectives mainly aimed at enhancing consumer satisfaction:
- Promote a quality culture at Etisalat through motivation, training, knowledge transfer, and collaboration across stakeholders.
- Provide quality of services, exceeding the minimum consumer requirements.
- Enhance internal business processes through implementation of telecommunication best practices in management systems and apply global quality control standards.
- Guarantee high quality of service performance levels and security.
- Address the shortcomings of the current business procedures and processes.
The value leveraged from implementation of quality assurance is explored across the entire workforce coupled with top management support and commitment to guide the employees in meeting the company’s quality objectives. Etisalat has used several quality tools in various lines of business and regions. Examples of these tools include:
- Quality Circle (QC): several projects have been done using the QC tool. QC entails development of skills, confidence, inventiveness, and capabilities of the workforce collaboratively through training, cooperation, and work experience. The objectives of QC includes, to: improve the authority and management capacities of the supervisors and first-line representatives in the working environment and to bolster the level of staffs’ morale on service levels.
- ISO 9000 Quality Management System: Eight (8) Etisalat elements have been certified for satisfying the ISO 9001:2000 quality management requirements.
- Consumer Satisfaction Index: the company implemented the consumer satisfaction index for typical analogue lines, Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) Post-paid and Dial Up by contracting quality a consultant.
- Etisalat Supplier Support Program: as a guideline used by Etisalat, this is a manual to have continuous improvement of network in addition to quality performance through collective efforts between the company and its main suppliers.
- British Standard (BS) 7799 – Information Security Management System: the company’s network security unit for e-Shop services has been certified by BS 7799-2:2002.
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): KPIs created and applied in numerous network segments in Etisalat, for example, GSM, contact center, switching maintenance among other business areas.
Etisalat management decided to embrace the European Foundation of Quality Management (EFQM) excellence framework as a quality award evaluation model. This model is focused on supporting the network maintenance center department’s requirements. It will distinguish the primary components of continual improvement of assessment, diagnostics and benchmarking of the quality processes.
Considerable research has been conducted to help improve quality, and several awards have been given to motivate organizations comply with proven quality practices and standards and consequently compete in the global market. Quality awards include: Deming’s Prize, Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA), and European Establishment of Quality Management for Quality Award, International Organization for Standards (ISO), and Dubai Quality Award.
Roadmap for quality awards
For quality awards, the roadmap model is in view of the EFQM Excellence Business Model incorporated into the RADAR scoring frameworks. The self-appraisal may be applied through the following steps: Questionnaire; Workshop; Matrix chart; and Award simulation. For this model, the evaluation for quality improvement score range from 0 to 1,000 points utilizing the EFQM Excellence model incorporated with the RADAR scoring framework. The fundamental concept of the roadmap model is RADAR – Results, Approach, Arrangement, Assessment, and Review, a concept that comprises of four essential entities that organizations need:
- Determine the intended results upon accomplishment of the policies and procedures.
- Plan and create a coordinated collection of solid ways of recognizing the results.
- Implement the approaches effectively and comprehensively across the organization.
- Evaluate and review whether these approaches are valuable and able to accomplish the desired results, distinguishing, prioritizing and actualizing expected improvements based on the analysis.
The RADAR concept can be effortlessly integrated into a continual management problem analysis, solving and evaluation tool. For optimal results, a relative weight should be credited to all the nine criteria specified in the EFQM Excellence Model. The RADAR scoring system assigns a percentage score to various excellence scores in a quality assessment process. Figure 1 represents the roadmap for quality awards.
Figure 1: Roadmap for quality awards model
The process improvement analysis was done based on the six sigma concept, one of the useful tools for executing business strategies originally developed and used by Motorola. Basically, six sigma concentrates on identifying and removing causes of errors and defects in business processes based on the DMAIC cycle – defining, measuring, analyzing, improving and controlling.
Business Excellence Model (BEM)
BEM consists of 9 criteria, 4 results (People, Customer, Society, and Key Performance), and 5 enablers (Leadership, People, Policy and Strategy, Partnership and Resources, and Processes). Enablers illustrate approaches towards accomplishment of results, while results show the actual achievements by the organization. BEM is demonstrated in Figure 2.
Figure 2: BEM
BEM is intrinsically dynamic and has several linkages, whereby all criteria in the model are interlinked. There are four levels of linkages: across the entire model; across enablers; between enablers and results – cause and effect; and within results. BEM may be used to drive improvement, thus it can be expected that there is a connection between accomplished results and performance improvement actions.
Self-assessment constitutes a critical element of performance improvement in any organization under the EFQM model. According to ESQM, self-assessment is a detailed, periodic and systematic analysis of a company’s activities. It is the starting point for any quality performance process as it seeks to elicit organizational strengths and improvement areas. After success self-assessment, an action plan is developed to steer improvement of an organization’s performance. Questionnaires may be used for data collection, and all stakeholders should be involved. An effective communication plan should be developed to create strong feedback capacities at all functional levels. Typically, self-assessment involves 8 steps: build commitment; plan for self-assessment process; establish terms; communicate all self-assessment plans; carry out self-assessment; create action plan; implement action plan; and assess progress.
Application of self-assessment implies attempting to uncover areas that need improvement in an organization. At Etisalat, the EFQM BEM model was used as the starting point for self-assessment. RADAR is a crucial tool for conducting self-assessment scoring based on 3 key criteria: approach, deployment, and review.
KPIs developed for Etisalat Company
For Etisalat, the KPIs include:
- The budget and net income.
- Brand measurements.
- Customer satisfaction.
- Customers’ volume.
- Customer retention.
- Competitiveness in the market.
- Market shares.
- Time to market factor.
- Standards in service provision.
- Process ownership.
- Degree of compliance with process standards.
- New services.
Analysis of result
The questionnaire conducted at three major areas in Etisalat’s maintenance department had a 65% response rate. Based on each enabler’s criterion and results, the score was 24.09% 27.04% respectively. In total, the score was 51.13% (511/1000 points). The company is “Recognized for Excellence” because its total earned score is 511/1000 points, which is greater than EFQM’s requirement of >400 points to qualify for this recognition. The 9 criteria specified by the Dubai Quality Award and EFQM were applied to arrive at the 511/1000 points as represented in Figure 3.
Figure 3: The score of questionnaire based on the BEM model
Obviously, the enablers rated almost 50% of the aggregate score, a good indicator of strength. The 511/1000 points score implies there is still need for improvement. Figure 4 represents the actual score per criteria alongside available room for improvement.
Figure 4: Areas of improvement per criteria
Quality awards are aimed at promoting business performance and competitiveness through awareness. More precisely, it is a process to help organizations establish an effective roadmap to excellence. Today, the corporate world is experiencing a high global competition, demanding high quality services that exceed consumer needs. This way, a company is able to uphold the desired competitiveness in today’s markets. Etisalat management resolved to design and implement high-quality management systems, incorporating performance indicators, quality controls like the six sigma, and quality of services assessment, which creates a collaborative platform for most of the workers in the process of quality improvement.
It is evident that is greatly possible to enhance the quality approaches at Etisalat to deliver desired quality excellence, owing much to the EFQM-BEM roadmap model. The process combined the self-assessment questionnaire with the RADAR philosophy used as the scoring matrix, and the maintenance department scored 511/100, thus meeting the requirements for “Recognized for Excellence”. However, there is need to improve on process ownership, customer retention, relationships in key account customers, and new services. The roadmap to quality implementation at Etisalat requires adoption of global standards such as ISO 90000 and ISO 14001 for quality management and business benefits respectively. Self-assessment is a critical tool to help perform continuous improvement of quality at Etisalat.
Basically, there are eight criteria that may change from time to time as a result of development and enhancement of quality tools in order to satisfy the market needs. Successful organizations are always ready to show their business performance to stakeholders, alongside consideration for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sponsorship. The criteria entails: leadership and consistency of purpose; management by processes and facts; people development and involvement; continuous learning, innovation and improvement; partnership development; CSR; results orientation; and customer focus.
Enablers in BEM are critical as they help assess whether an organization possess the required approaches to accomplish the expected results. Ultimately, these models are critical in delivering quality results effectively and efficiently and ensuring continual improvements. Self-assessment played a key role in the overall quality improvement process since it enables identify areas that need improvement.
Process owners are critical to any quality effort, because they manage, improve and assess business processes to identify areas that need improvement. Eventually, an organization is steered towards better processes and products to meet customer and market demands. It is important to have a deep understanding into customer expectations to ensure that all customer needs are explicitly addressed. An organization should have a plan that seeks to handle customers’ complaints in a query-feedback technique, coupled with after sales support, provision of necessary technical documentations, product or service training, and warranty to help retain customers.
Adequate customer satisfaction is critical to any organization’s success. Therefore, there is need to implement strategies for brand measurement and gain a clear understanding of customer satisfaction, awareness, and preferences. Etisalat achieved its targets according to the financial plan and realized an increase in its net annual income. Other non-financial results may be improved through seeking more customers, and enhancing the time to market factor and market shares. Based on the KPIs, there is need to enhance the process and customer results.
Other lessons learnt include, the need to: seek senior management commitment and support in process evaluation and quality improvement; develop effective service level agreements (SLAs) to uphold customer rights and lead to high retention levels; and conduct change management driven by senior management to encourage adoption of new processes.
- Strong leadership: it is evident that the total local senior personnel in the company exceed 70% of the entire senior management.
- There is high leaders’ involvement in process involvement actions in the adoption of new initiatives regarding quality tools like QC and ISO 9000.
- The company has a clear top-down policy.
- The company has an organizational culture that steer achievement of targets.
- The technology of the firm’s products is recognized as world class.
- The staffs are adhering to the process road map, evident due to adoption of ISO 9000.
- The firm introduce new products to continuously meet the market demands.
- After improving in customer results, processes and key performance results, the company may understand the meaning of “value” and the significance of “process ownership”. This way, process owners will be responsible for measures, objectives and performance, thus delivering valuable benefits to the entire company.
- Customer results may improve up to 96 points.
- There exist a gap between the company and the end user needs.
- No process ownership.
- The company does not have a clear process or plan to help retain its customers.
- The company does not have a solid brand value measurement capacity.
- Links with primary accounts is not clear, resulting to damage to customer retention and loyalty.
- No plan for development of new services.
- There is increasing global competition in the telecom industry as well as in the UAE.
Al Kattan, I.Y., & AL-Suwaidi, K.S. (n.d.). ROADMAP FOR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT IN A TELECOM COMPANY. American University of Sharjah.