November 2015

The business of excellence

With the Tata group’s business excellence journey attaining critical mass, the Tata Business Excellence Group (TBExG) is poised to achieve its vision of enabling 'at least 25 Tata companies attain industry leadership by 2025,' says its executive chairman S Padmanabhan

Tata Quality Management Services (TQMS) was recently renamed Tata Business Excellence Group (TBExG). What is the rationale behind this change in brand? Does it signify a change in the organisation’s personality and agenda as well?
In the 20 years since TQMS was formed, the business excellence journey within the group has achieved many milestones. The Tata Business Excellence Model (TBEM) has been a living model, which has been constantly evolving to meet the needs of the group. Our initial focus was on quality. Over time, in addition to product and process quality, we have embraced the larger concept of overall business excellence. What has remained constant in all these years is a balanced approach for long-term stakeholder value creation and institutionalising the way of doing business. Hence, after two decades of enabling business excellence in Tata companies, we have renamed ourselves as TBExG.

In line with the Tata group’s mission and vision, our mission is “To enable Tata companies to enhance performance and create long-term stakeholder value”. Similarly, our vision is “To enable at least 25 Tata companies to achieve industry leadership by 2025”.

Does this name change involve any restructuring within the organisation?
There has been no restructuring of the organisation with the change in identity. TQMS, which is now TBExG, has focused mainly on TBEM Assessment and Capability Building in the past two decades. However, with the change in vision, we have introduced new areas of focus, which will help the Tata group in areas that are important to its business activities. We have enhanced our capabilities in the areas of executing Deep Dives, and Best Practices creation and sharing. On the basis of the Opportunities of Improvements (OFIs) that are identified at the end of each assessment, we make recommendations which may enable the companies to improve on these OFIs, so that they can create a virtuous cycle of improvements and performance enhancement.

TBExG’s vision is “To enable at least 25 Tata companies to achieve industry leadership by 2025.” How do you plan to realise this vision?
TBEM’s core purpose is to enhance the performance of Tata companies, enabling them to advance in their business excellence journey. All the companies that have signed the BEBP agreement undertake the TBEM assessments. The assessments highlight certain strategic imperatives as well as strengths and OFIs that the companies can then leverage and act upon. TBExG maps the strengths and OFIs within group companies, so that strengths of certain companies can be leveraged to improve the performance of other companies. This is done through offerings like Deep Dives, Best Practices Sharing and Capability Building. In the next assessment cycle, we check whether the company has improved in the OFI areas that were identified in the previous assessment. Over a period of time, a virtuous cycle is created, resulting in an improvement in the company’s TBEM score band. Consistent performance enhancement over a period will ultimately help the company achieve industry leadership.

We are currently focusing on areas like customer driven excellence, operational excellence, risk management, project management, competitive intelligence, strategy deployment and safety – all of which are important for the Tata group strategically. So our offerings – Deep Dives, Capability Building and Best Practices – focus on these areas. Our aim is for constant improvement in these areas so that the performance of the Tata group as a whole improves in the coming years.

How do you see the Tata Business Excellence Model evolving to meet new needs in the future, especially with the Tata group stating its Vision 2025?
The Tata Business Excellence Model is a living model, which has evolved over the past 20 years, in keeping with the market conditions and the requirements. For instance, for the past two years, the findings of the TBEM assessment were presented to the boards of companies. Since last year, we have also started taking inputs from the chairman of the company so that a virtuous cycle is created in which, areas and results that are important for the company are focused on. We have also raised the threshold for the Business Excellence Award winners to 650 from 600. Today, companies also have the option to undertake Deep Dives on the areas of improvements. All of these steps have resulted in sharper outcomes for the companies so that they can focus on actionable inputs to improve performance at the end of the TBEM assessments.

One integral factor in performance improvement is the sharing of best practices that reside within the Tata group. The best practices initiative – EDGE – enables the sharing and proliferation of best practices. Today, assessors go into a TBEM assessment equipped with best practices from different Tata companies, so that they can be shared with the company in question, in the areas it needs improvements. The best practice sharing is also extended beyond the TBEM assessments through learning missions, webinars and the EDGE portal.

The TBEM criteria, which is based on the Malcolm Baldrige criteria, is at the heart of the TBEM assessment process. The TBEM criteria has also been changing continuously in response to the changing business environment, enabling companies to keep pace with change. In keeping with the Tata group’s emphasis on its customers, the TBEM criteria for the 2015 assessments has included the Tata group Customer Promise and its deployment.

Customer centricity has become a key focus area at the Tata group. What role do you see TBExG play in helping the group achieve its customer-centricity objectives?
The Tata group Customer Promise has been embedded in the TBEM criteria for 2015. We have accordingly trained assessors in the new criteria so that during the assessments, special attention can be given to the deployment of Customer Promise in the companies. This will help companies ascertain whether they are deploying the Customer Promise in the right way, or are there gaps that they can improve upon. Once the assessment is completed, in case of an OFI, we partner with the company in various diagnostics and voice of customer studies. In addition to this, we also identify best practices in the area of customer and share them with the companies that need improvement in this area. Customer centricity is hence ingrained in the entire TBEM assessment cycle and all the diagnostic offerings that we deal in.

How is TBExG poised to advance the group’s business excellence objectives in industries such as retail and e-commerce?
There are many Tata companies in retail that are a force to reckon with – Titan, Infiniti Retail, Trent – all of which have strengths in specific areas. Once these strengths are identified through TBEM assessments, we connect these companies through learning missions, webinars, Tata Network Forums and best practices sharing so that they can leverage each other’s strengths.

For instance, Infiniti Retail has learnt a lot from the strong store operation that is run by Titan. Similarly, Trent has learnt from the franchising model that has been developed by Titan. Some smaller companies are also learning from the strong brand practices of Titan. Such a culture of learning and sharing consistently helps Tata companies improve and enhance their performance.