Self-assessment by multi-levels to business excellence – “what can be done”

Self-assessment by multi-levels to business excellence – “what can be done”

ESCELSA Quality Management Office; r. Sete de Setembro 362, Vitória, Espírito Santo – Brazil, CEP 29015-000. e-mail: qualidade@escelsa.com.br


ESCELSA and ENERSUL are Brazilian utility companies working with production, transmission and distribution of electrical energy for the States of Espírito Santo and Mato Grosso do Sul. Both companies adopt Total Quality Management (TQM) as a management model.
The TQM assessment system applies the Brazilian Quality Award model established from the Malcolm Baldrige Award (USA).
The assessment of a company as a whole may not be enough for our purpose of identifying the areas that may require improvements in management.
Consequently, we have applied some procedures prior to the compilation of the management report. Such procedures consisted of employing a system comprised of 3 (three) levels: Simplified Assessment Guide (SAG); Level 1 and Level 2 in order to assess the organizational units (supervision, management and superintendence).
This “self-assessment by multi-levels to business excellence is what can be done” by utilities and any other companies for TQM assessment.

Present situation of TQM assessment system

As TQM was implemented at both ESCELSA and ENERSUL the Quality Management Office proposed consolidation measures for 1999 and 2000:

(1) Establish a Quality System
(2) Implement the Quality Audit
(3) Establish the TQM assessment system

Such consolidation measures were displayed on a tree-diagram, up to the level of executable activities, which, in turn were detailed in APs (5W1H). Following extensive surveys together with a collation of several possibilities for TQM assessment in the context of companies as a whole, the chosen model was the Brazilian Quality Award, established from the Malcolm Baldrige Award (USA) as previously mentioned.
Since assessing a company as a whole has proven not to fulfil our needs in identifying possible areas requiring enhancements in management techniques, we have devised and employed the multi-level concept (SAG, Level 1 and 2), thus effectively assessing the supervision, management and superintendence units.
(José Ailton B. Silva – 2000)

Brazilian quality award model

The 7 (seven) Criteria of Management Excellence are as follows:

1. Leadership
2. Strategic Planning
3. Focus on Client and Market
4. Information and Analysis
5. Personnel Management
6. Processes Management
7. Organization Results

The structure of such Criteria which define the model of management for performance excellence is shown on figure 1.
The strategy and action plans consist of a group of procedures to be followed throughout the organization. These procedures emanate from the strategic planning on the long and short run, and are applied as a guide to decision-making and resources application. Such procedures also assist as drivers of the indicators alignment of performance for all the unit sectors in order to guarantee the success of the organization.
Figure 1 highlights that all critical aspects of management of an organization, incorporated and represented by the 7 (seven) Criteria (as above) must be perfectly aligned to the strategy and action plans.
The management model comprised by the Excellence Criteria defines what the organization should do in order to be successful in the quest for performance excellence. Through effective leadership at board level, which focus on client and market needs, the organization’s operations are planned to better meet these group’s necessities, bearing in mind all the available resources. The first 3 Criteria establish a group, which can be termed as planning.
The accomplishment of such needs in conformity with the strategy and action plans is achieved through personnel and processes. These second Criteria group represents the ‘execution of planning’. The organization’s results are used to monitor customer satisfaction levels, market conditions, finance, personnel management, supply chain management, as well as organizational processes and product’s performance which can be considered as the control group. Finally, the analysis and information system represents the organization’s intelligence and the support basis of planned and executed actions within each previously mentioned groups. This is the ‘action taking’ group regarding the critical analysis undertaken. (FPNQ-1999)
Figure 1 also represents the existing relationship between the groups (longer arrows) and between the internal Criteria to the groups (shorter arrows) transmitting the idea of systematic focus of management model.

Self-assessment by multi-levels insight

The Gaucho Quality and Productivity Program (GQPP) was launched in October 1992, with the aim to stimulate develop and promote actions with a view to provide a competitive edge to the organizations of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, through the enhancement of quality and productivity.
GQPP has adopted the same Criteria of the Brazilian Quality Award as its basis for its Assessment System in order to measure the Quality levels in the State of Rio Grande do Sul.
The GQPP provided the organizations with an instrument which allows the diagnostic of management development levels, not only being an Assessment System but an effective planning and management tool for the improvement of Quality. (Gaucho Program)
The methodology was conceived initially in 3 levels, which adopted as a principle the Criteria excellence of the Brazilian Quality Award.
The system as employed at ESCELSA and ENERSUL applies the GQPP which consists of 3 levels (Level 1, Level 2 and the Simplified Assessment Guide - SAG), which enable any type of organization, of any size, any sector and management positioning to take part of this campaign aimed at the improvement of quality and productivity, assessing its performance and placing itself in the position to measure its management standing against the best practices undertaken in today’s globalised world.
The SAG (Simplified Assessment Guide) was developed in order to assist the micro and small companies and represents a refinement of the Assessment System. Its core principles include: self-evaluation, score ranging from 0-150 and an assessment of the seven criteria of the Brazilian Quality Award.
Level 1 has been through several cycles of improvement and represents the first great step of Assessment System, as it comprises the entire higher level feature. It is characterised by: self-evaluation, external audits, score ranging from 0-250 and evaluates the seven criteria of the Brazilian Quality Award
Level 2 was employed as a reference for the creation of the “First Steps to Excellence” of the Brazilian Quality Award. Its fundamental principles include: score ranging from: 0-500 (which reaches 50% of the Excellence criteria) allowing a very close alignment to the Assessment System of the Brazilian Quality Award making use of seven criteria and twenty items.

The benefits of employing the System are:

― Uniformity of the management concept
― Systematic view of the management model
― Blending of efforts
― Guidance for the definition of the enhancement or implementation plan of TQM
― Opportunity of external assessment with qualified surveyors.

The criteria of the Brazilian Quality Award are based on the Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award/USA. Important organizations are making use of such assessment instruments with success in order to mark out their way in the quest for excellence.
Aiming to assist all the companies which adhere to the program the Gaucho Quality and Productivity Program has adopted 4 (four) assessment levels which can be employed as they please, as they advance in the implementation. The referential (the target) is the Brazilian Quality Award itself.
The following table depicts the system:

BQA 1000 N/A - World Class Company
- Exceptional System and Results
2 500 350 - Adequate System
- Satisfactory Results
1 250 150 - Incipient System
- Satisfactory Results
SAG 125 80 - Micro and Small Companies
- Self-Assessment
(*) Recommended score to effect assessment by the next level.

Correlation of the Assessment System with the Brazilian Quality Award

Using the 3 levels self-assessment

In order to complete the understanding of all management levels of a company with regard to the strong points and the opportunities for improvement in its respective lines of business, an assessment system was developed which makes use of the following basic pattern:
Management Level Assessment guide employed
Directorate SAG
Level 1
Level 2
Excellence Criteria BQA

By employing this pattern the following advantages (among others) can be obtained:
- Speedy assessments.
- The assessment criteria can be merged to its corresponding management levels.
- The same principle of the assessment system can be applied to all management levels.
- Homogenous training for internal surveyors.
- Ease of use guidelines for implementation of TQM in all areas.
- Assessment will involve all employees.
- All management levels will be committed to achieve results.
- Rationalized application of the Quality tools.
- A common TQM language.
- Integrated improvement proposals within the diverse management levels.

Self-assessment by multi-levels must be applied as a “management tool” in order to provide TQM with a feedback. Starting from the perceived improvement opportunities a plan is developed in order to perfect the Quality process within each management level (supervision, management, superintendence and organization). The necessary steps are basically as follows:
- Decide between “Top-down” or “Bottom-up” assessments.
- Control the criteria as to its interpretation.
- Train internal surveyors.
- Establish an assessment extension.
- Define assessment methods.
- Prepare schedules for each level.
- Advise on the compiling of management improvement plans.

The above mentioned process has been operational since 1998 at both Escelsa and Enersul, and must be extended as from 2001 to other companies of the group, such as:
Escelsanet and Enersulnet (Internet servers) and Esc90 e Tvix (cable tvs).


The alignment of strategies, action plans and development indicators of a blue chip company has always portrayed a challenge to administrators. The diverse management levels also have enormous communication difficulties both on the organization’s hierarchical sense as well as in the horizontal sense, amongst administrators of equivalent level.
The employment of the same criteria to assess the diverse management levels solves the problems arising from such difficulties.
Furthermore, the employment of one single assessment model to the diverse management levels is not coherent with the ever-increasing complexity of administrating units of higher hierarchy. The employment of the Simplified Assessment Guide (SAG) to assess the units of lower hierarchy; together with the employment of both Level 1 and Level 2 to assess both average and higher hierarchy levels accordingly, allows the progressive introduction of the concepts of Management Excellence throughout the organization.
Considering that the assessment of the various levels can and will be effected during the same period of time it is possible to obtain indications of strong and weak points (opportunities for improvement) which allows the standardizing of suggested corrective measures in such manner that the action plans for the improvement of management may be more easily defined and monitored at all levels.
As the various assessment levels apply the same Criteria as the Brazilian Quality Award, the assessment program structured in this manner will be fully exploited in the compiling of the assessment report of the organization as a whole.
The material made available by the Gaucho Quality Program allows the creation of internal auditors, which will turn into a great taskforce, focused on reporting the principles of management.
Another application of the proposed model is in the initial “Shake-Down” (or initial diagnostic) for an organization willing to introduce a model of quality management.
Finally, it is necessary to pay special attention when identifying the levels of the organization which will be equivalent to SAG, Level 1 and Level 2 when it happens to exist more than 3 (three) hierarchical levels.
The employment of these self-assessment model both at ESCELSA and ENERSUL has been contributing enormously to the success and to the organizational results, besides allowing the application of various Tools and Techniques of the Total Quality Management (TQM).


JOSÉ AILTON B. SILVA (2000) Total Quality Management: Two successful cases in Brazilian electrical companies (Escelsa and Enersul).
FPNQ (1999) – Critérios de Excelência – (Excellence Criteria)
GAUCHO PROGRAM (1999) Programa Gaúcho de Qualidade e Produtividade – Sistema de Avaliação (Gaucho Quality and Productivity Program-Evaluation System) (Brazil, RS).