Business Excellence Awards has become a benchmark for quality, human resource development and service excellence Image Credit: Supplied

Since the inception of Dubai Quality Award (DQA) in 1994, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Business Excellence Awards has grown exponentially. Set up by His Highness to raise the standards of service provided by businesses within the private sector, the inaugural DQA had just three winners — DHL Worldwide Express, J. Ray McDermott-ETPM East-Ducab and Mashreq Bank in three categories, service, manufacturing and finance. Today, Business Excellence Awards receives thousands of entries from hopeful entrants for the many different categories and has more than 600 winning companies.

Recognised both locally and globally, Business Excellence Awards has become a benchmark for quality, human resource development and service excellence. The awards has gone past countless milestones over the past 25 years, including a move to the European Foundation for Quality Management Excellence Model in 2000 to include sectors such as hospitality and healthcare; the launch of Dubai Human Development Award (DHDA) focusing on enhancing the human capital and Dubai Service Excellence Scheme (DSES) emphasising higher standards of customer care in 2002; and a rebranding of all the three main awards under Business Excellence Centre in 2008.

The advent of these various awards has not only provided motivation for companies to improve but also transformed the organisational landscape of the UAE. “During the past 25 years, Business Excellence Awards, which includes DQA, Dubai Quality Global Award, DHDA, DSES, and Emirates Business Rating Scheme, has helped organisations benchmark and adopt best practices across customer service and organisational growth, while gaining recognition for outstanding work,” says Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of Dubai Economy.

Deep impact

Arabian Automobiles has been a consistent winner of Business Excellence Awards. With a Dubai Quality Gold Award and numerous Best Service Performance Brand awards within DSES under the company’s belt, Michel Ayat, CEO of AW Rostamani Automotive, says the business excellence frameworks have been highly beneficial in ensuring a rigid mechanism to continuously improve its business standards and processes. “Our participation in these award cycles has enabled us to demonstrate robust results and at the same time added significant value by ensuring better processes, increasing operational efficiency and delivering an exciting and memorable customer experience.”

For Unilever Gulf, receiving an external recognition such as the inaugural Dubai Quality Global Award through a structured, globally proven process has been a source of great pride, says its Managing Director, Cem T. Yuksel. “The awards rigorous and holistic assessment touched every facet — from strategy & leadership to people, purpose, partnerships and process. This provided us the opportunity to deep-dive and reflect on how we operate. This provided us the opportunity to deep-dive and reflect on how we operate. An additional bonus was the great degree of synergy and teamwork displayed in ensuring a successful submission entry.”

Over the years, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and its hospitals, have also been making a mark for themselves at Business Excellence Awards. “Adopting excellence models provides a holistic framework for organisational excellence and provides organisations with a tool to benchmark performance and document existing gaps,” says Mohamed Al Daheri, Deputy CEO of SEHA’s Al Rahba Hospital, which has won Dubai Quality Appreciation Award as well as Dubai Human Development Appreciation Award. “It is clear that embracing such models reflect positively on patient safety, care and treatment process, employee performance and organisational performance.”

With so many benefits, companies throughout the UAE are eager to enter the awards and thus entries have multiplied over the years.

“The net growth in the number of applicants and members in Business Excellence Awards during the past 25 years has been a phenomenal 300 per cent,” says Al Qamzi.

“From more than 20,000 applicants that became part of this journey over a quarter of a century, we have had 600 winner organisations proudly hoisting the awards as their badge of excellence.

“The total number of applicants in DQA and DHDA now exceeds 1,100 while DSES has brought over 2,000 outlets under its umbrella.

“Over 3,300 organisations and 2,800 assessors have been trained as part of the awards and more than 300 mystery shoppers are involved in DSES, creating a rich talent pool capable of sustaining the excellence momentum into the future.”

Looking ahead

While the awards has produced a winning formula over the past 25 years, Business Excellence Awards is set to grow further. In keeping with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision of making Dubai a smart and sustainable city, the next step is the digitilisation of the awards.

“The awards application and assessment processes will move to a digital format soon with the launch of an online portal equipped with tools for benchmarking, sharing of best practices, learning, development and community engagement,” says Al Qamzi.

“We will also extend the DSES mystery shopping programme and customer satisfaction surveys to government and private sector entities in the GCC so that the success of the programme in making shopping in Dubai a pleasure and enhancing retail sector competitiveness in the emirate can be replicated region-wide.”

Business Excellence Awards is already in the SME space with the introduction of DQAA for representative entities. There are plans to expand the scope further to include more SMEs in the future.

With so much achieved in the past 25 years, Business Excellence Awards is looking forward to adding more impressive achievements over the next quarter of a century.