Over the last few decades, excellence models have become increasingly popular among business organizations. The strategies are used to facilitate competitiveness and reduce operational costs. The models achieve this objective by adopting methods used to assess total quality management principles and practices. The principles are made part of everyday operations among business organizations.
There are a number of quality models that are used by companies today. Examples include the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) and Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (Government of Dubai, 2012). The models have proved to be excellent frameworks that can be used in assessing and rewarding quality.
The current paper is written against this background. The author is going to analyze various excellence award systems used in Dubai. A comparative analysis will be made between the frameworks in this country and those used in other countries around the world. The rationale behind these reward schemes will be reviewed.
Excellence Awards in the United Arab Emirates: A Case Study of Dubai
An Overview of Excellence Award Systems
Various excellence models reflect the self-assessment process evident at different levels of organizations. The aim is to promote total quality management. According to Zaher (2013), a number of studies in this field indicate that the use of business excellence frameworks is more consistent in Western countries compared to other nations around the globe. In the recent past, countries in the Middle East have started to adopt these models, making them part of their business processes. Dubai is one of these nations that have started using this strategy.
Currently, the government of Dubai is seeking to turn this region into an international business hub (Zaher, 2013). Consequently, Dubai is seeking to achieve quality and excellence in order to gain and maintain a competitive edge in the world market. In addition, the government is making efforts to diversify the economic base of this country and stop its overreliance on oil. The objective can be achieved by rewarding excellence in other sectors of the economy. According to the Government of Dubai (2012), there are five guiding principles behind Dubai Emirate Strategic Plan (2007-2015). One of them involves enhancing excellence in the private and public sectors. The government has made the achievement of this mission a priority.
E-Services Excellence Award (ESEA)
As already indicated in this paper, there are different excellence award systems in the world. One of them is the E-Eservices Excellence Award (ESEA). It is one of the major awards offered in Dubai in relation to the performance of businesses in this country. According to Zaher (2013), ESEA award is organized and offered annually by Dubai Trade. The system recognizes and appreciates the best performers with regards to the adoption of e-services in the Dubai Trade Portal.
Annual events are held to present these awards. ESEA adopts a new theme each year to address a given e-service (6th E-Services Excellence Award ceremony (ESEA), n.d). The main aim of the annual event is to encourage business organizations in the country to embrace e-services. The highest performers are awarded to encourage their continued operations. It is noted that technology has the potential to increase economic performance in Dubai (6th E-Services Excellence Award ceremony (ESEA), n.d).
In 2008, Dubai Trade made some changes to the award system. It merged ESEA and LOG.LEO for the first time. The two systems were brought together to award performance in the e-services sector. The entities that are regarded as having succeeded in e-services include those that have adopted the use of Dubai Trade’s e-portal. The system is referred to as e-Token. According to Zaher (2013), e-Token refers to an innovative online gate system. Traders and transporters generate entry permits or tokens using this platform. The operators acquire permits by virtue of their activities in the transportation of containers through Jebel Ali Port. The system does not require the investors to fill in forms manually. In addition, they do not have to wait in lines for hours to be cleared.
An example of e-service provided via the Dubai Trade Portal is the popular e-payment model known as Rosoom (Government of Dubai, 2012). In 2009, Dubai Trade (under ESEA) awarded the five best performing organizations under this system. Room enables business organizations to pay their free zone charges and other fees online. Consequently, the need to visit counters is eliminated. It helps in effective utilization of time and effort to improve productivity.
ESEA focuses on diverse organizations involved in trading and supply chain business operations. It awards firms that exhibit growth in the use of e-services and e-solutions offered via the Dubai Trade Portal (6th E-Services Excellence Award ceremony (ESEA), n.d). The E-services Excellence Awards have become popular with time. New and innovative categories are introduced each year. The aim is to award e-transformation in the business world.
ESEA has numerous objectives, which determine the selection of participants in the awards system. The objectives include encouraging adoption of e-services and building customer loyalty by rewarding the best performing organizations. In addition, ESEA also recognizes achievements relating to the utilization of e-services by customers. The system also rewards the firms that have implemented online frameworks in their operations. It enhances digital transformation with regards to trade in the country. In essence, ESEA promotes the popularity of Dubai Trade Portal. The portal is regarded as an effective means of promoting trade in Dubai (Zaher, 2013).
The identification of ESEA recipients is based on a number of selection criteria. The winning companies are selected on the basis of various factors, reflecting an increase in transactions under various conditions. For instance, the organization should not have won the award in the past three years (6th E-Services Excellence Award ceremony (ESEA), n.d). In addition, the organization should have provided a minimum of 95% of its services online in the preceding year (6th E-Services Excellence Award ceremony (ESEA), n.d). Business growth (in terms of transactions) for the preceding two years is also taken into consideration. The transactions are based on key e-services across or within a given business unit accessed by a particular community.
ESEA awards are divided into various categories. The subdivision is carried out on the basis of business transactions taking place in the diverse trading communities. Some of the categories include Exporter and Importer of the Year and Re-Exporter of the Year. Other categories include the Free Zone Company of the Year, Clearing Agent of the Year, and Hauler of the Year. SHIPPING AGENT of the Year (under containerized and general cargos) and Freight Forwarder of the Year are other categories of awards under ESEA.
Dubai Quality Award
A number of reward systems are used to appreciate excellence in the region. According to the Government of Dubai (2012), the Dubai Quality Award is one of these initiatives. It is a system used to harmonize different initiatives undertaken by the authorities. It is structured along the lines of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EQFM). Like EQFM, Dubai Quality Award is used to recognize organizations operating in the public and private sectors. In addition, it is used to analyze performance among companies. It is also used to identify existing gaps in business operations (Government of Dubai, 2012).
Dubai Quality Award is modeled on the basis of a holistic framework with nine criterion elements. These sections focus on organizational excellence (Government of Dubai, 2012). The framework is designed in such a way that all the elements complement each other. To this end, deficiencies or improvements in one part affect the whole system. In addition, the model is designed in a non-prescriptive manner. As such, it acknowledges the various approaches used to achieve success (800 PLUGINS, 2014).
For an organization to qualify for the Dubai Quality Award, it must demonstrate sustained and continuous improvement in its operations (Zaher, 2013). Business firms are encouraged to improve their processes. They should not focus solely on winning the award. The award is valid for a period of three years (Government of Dubai, 2012). Winners are allowed to use the honor to promote their products for the entire period within which it is valid. However, they cannot use the award logos for any purposes three years after winning. There are various reasons why the duration is limited. One of them is the fact that the quality of the product or the element that was awarded may have changed over time. It is noted that sustaining the quality may be harder than the achievement of the award itself.
Re-application for the Dubai Quality Award is encouraged after every three years. However, subsequent applications should focus on the most recent approaches and improvements in the past 36 months. Organizations are discouraged from engaging in the reproduction of augmented versions of their previous submissions for consideration. When an application is unsuccessful, the company can only submit its request again after two years. The design allows for sufficient time to implement new improvements, which address previous feedback issues (Zaher, 2013).
Dubai Quality Award is divided into three categories. The Dubai Quality Award Gold (GOLD) category recognizes organizations that have previously won the Dubai Quality Award [DQA] (Government of Dubai, 2012). Organizations awarded in the GOLD category must demonstrate tangible and sustainable improvements exceeding past performance.
The Dubai Quality Award is presented to organizations that have excelled in the various sectors of the economy (Government of Dubai, 2012). Economic sectors considered include trade, finance, tourism, manufacturing, construction, and professional. Winners of this category can apply for GOLD after three years. Another award system is the Dubai Quality Appreciation Programme (DQAP). It recognizes the efforts made by a given organization to attain excellence (Government of Dubai, 2012). DQAP is open to both small and medium-sized enterprises from all sectors of the economy. It is also open to large enterprises. Most of the firms use it as a launching pad to the DQA cluster.
Dubai Service Excellence Scheme (DSES)
It is another system used in the country to recognize performance. According to the Government of Dubai (2012), the scheme awards exemplary performance in customer service. DSES was initiated by the Department of Economic Development in 2002. It is aimed at rewarding excellence in customer service in the private sector.
The scheme is designed to enhance the confidence of consumers. Their shopping experience in Dubai is turned into a memorable undertaking. All organizations participating in the initiative have to adhere to a set code of ethics. In addition, they have to meet the criteria set with regards to the quality of customer service provided. DSES is also designed to complement Dubai Quality Appreciation Programme and Dubai Quality Award (Government of Dubai, 2012). All businesses are eligible for the scheme, especially those in the service sector. Customer service is an important determinant of competition. It is used to differentiate the quality of services offered by companies operating in the same industry.
The scheme differentiates businesses by looking at the quality of their services. It also analyses whether or not the business exhibits a quality-driven culture and focus on the customer (Zaher, 2013). Companies are expected to show commitment to the provision of high-quality products. In addition, their employees have to adhere to set ethical standards when dealing with customers.
The award system emphasizes the creation of an environment that is conducive for business operations (Government of Dubai, 2012). The ability of organizations to offer high-quality customer service is the major focus of DSES. Such excellence is anchored on a number of factors. The factors include the knowledge and skills of employees who are in contact with the customers. Other elements taken into consideration include the skills of the employees, as well as a commitment to training and development.
Examples of Companies that have Won Dubai’s Excellence Awards
Various companies from different economic sectors have won a number of Dubai Excellence Awards. In the 8th Business Excellence Awards ceremony held in 2013, the Department of Economic Development awarded 32 companies operating in the country. Some of them include Hilton Dubai Jumeirah (tourism sector). The hotel won the Dubai Quality Gold Award (Zaher, 2013). On its part, Rak Hospital (health sector) won the Dubai Quality Appreciation Award. PLUGINS Electronics was the only company that won the Dubai Service Excellence Scheme Award from the IT sector (Zaher, 2013).
PLUGINS Electronics is one of the leading multi-brand retailers of consumer electronics in Dubai and the larger United Arab Emirates (Plug-Ins electronics, 2012). The company is regarded as one of the favorite organizations in Dubai as far as consumers are concerned. The entity is associated with more than 250 leading brands. As such, it is regarded as an electronics giant in the country. Purchasing products from PLUGINS is an exciting experience for the customers. The firm has outlets with customer-friendly layouts and an experienced workforce (Plug-Ins electronics, 2012). The factors form key components of PLUGINS Electronics philosophy in relation to customer care.
In addition to the extensive range of products, PLUGINS Electronics retail chain has a product-savvy consultant team (800 PLUGINS, 2014). The employees guide and assist customers in making decisions to purchase items.
Rak Hospital Dubai
Rak Hospital is regarded as one of the best healthcare providers not only in Dubai and the UAE but also in the world (Rak Hospital, 2014). The hospital serves numerous local, international, and regional patients. Some of the outstanding features of this facility include highly skilled doctors and quality healthcare and clinical services (Rak Hospital, 2014). In addition, the hospital has more than twenty specialties.
Rak Hospital was awarded as the health facility with the best healing environment in 2011. In addition, the hospital was voted a Super Brand in 2014. The recognition appreciates the facility’s efforts to emerge as one of the most preferred and trusted hospitals in the region (Rak Hospital, 2014).
Hilton Dubai Jumeirah
Hilton Dubai Jumeirah is one of the leading resorts in Dubai. It is located on the Jumeirah Beach (Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort, 2014). The facility is promoted as the ideal location from where one can explore the beauty of Dubai. The establishment has a variety of bars and restaurants. It is also located near major shopping malls. For instance, The Mall of the Emirates and the famous Shopping Mile are a short distance from the resort (Hilton Dubai Jumeirah Resort, 2014).
Quality Assurance and Development of Skills in IT in Relation to the Projects Initiated by PLUG INS Electronics in Dubai
According to Hartman and Ashrafi (2002), quality can be analyzed from two perspectives. They include the business and customers viewpoints. To a business, such as PLUG INS Electronics, quality entails meeting customer requirements adequately. To the customer, however, quality involves the production of an item or service that is user-friendly. One of the factors behind the success of PLUGINS Electronics (which led to the winning of the Dubai Service Excellence Scheme Award) is the company’s quality assurance management system.
Most of the IT projects managed by PLUG INS Electronics are related to the company’s e-commerce systems (800 PLUGINS, 2014). The organization has a number of online stores, which offer various virtual services. Quality assurance in the company’s IT projects is enhanced by recognizing customers and discerning their needs (Plug-Ins electronics, 2012). The organization keeps track of changes in preferences among consumers. The development ensures that the quality concerns of the customers are addressed.
PLUGINS Electronics’ e-commerce platform is designed in a very user-friendly manner. The feedback of customers is sought on a regular basis. The arrangement enables the production of future designs that are in line with the expectations prevailing in the market. The knowledge and skills of the employees are important in ensuring that quality standards are met (Hartman & Ashrafi, 2002). The success of any given IT project depends on the abilities of the development team.
The operations of PLUGINS Electronics depend on the skills and knowledge of the employees. For instance, highly skilled employees are involved in the business segments of the firm. The achievement of the company’s philosophy is also pegged on the provision of high-quality customer services through a knowledgeable team of employees (800 PLUGINS, 2014). The employees receive extensive training regarding the retail supply chain of the business. As a result, they act as consultants by assisting customers in their purchases (Plug-Ins electronics, 2012). Consequently, the quality of the IT systems used in the business is sustained. In addition, the needs of consumers are addressed effectively.
The concept of rewarding quality is gaining popularity in the business world. It is especially common among techno-savvy enterprises. Most public and private business organizations have realized the importance of rewarding quality. Dubai is one of the leading countries in the world in relation to the recognition of quality in the business. The reality is made evident in the numerous quality awards given out in Dubai every year. The positive impacts of these awards are apparent in the high quality of products offered by businesses operating in Dubai.
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Zaher, B. (2013). Dubai recognises 32 companies and entities for Business Excellence Awards. Web.