The road to excellence through the EFQM model

Each day there are more entities of different sectors that invest time and involve personal to improve management for business excellence

It is initially a matter of philosophy. The philosophy of business excellence. It is to work to achieve excellent results in relation to all the results that are essential for the Organization: customers, people and society. The process is the result of good leadership that directs and drives the strategy and policy between the people of the Organization, promotes partnerships, looks for resources and runs processes.

Excellence in business management is based on concepts such as orientation towards results and client, leadership and perseverance, involvement of people, social responsibility, etc. It is not improvised, but a result of the Organization through a contrasted and recognized model: the EFQM model.

EFQM Model

The EFQM model is understood as a structured management framework that provides organizations, both public and private, a global vision to promote and stimulate the improvement towards excellence. Excellent organisations are supposed to maintain higher levels of performance to meet the expectations of all its stakeholders. The use of the EFQM model of excellence enables organizations to understand the relationship between the organization and that obtained by means of a self-assessment system.


To obtain a EFQM seal is to elaborate a descriptive report of the Organization, its activities of management and its results, as well as undergo a process of self-evaluation. The Organization agrees to seal when, in the Spanish case, the Club for Excellence in Management validates the scoring of the assessment made by the certification body.



Centres working for excellence

Two entities of the health sector have achieved recently this road to excellence to get recognition. On the one hand, the Hospital Benito Menni C.A.S.M, centre belonging to the Congregación de Hermanas Hospitalarias del Sagrado Corazón, has earned the seal of European excellence 500. The hospital is part of a set of psychogeriatrics and general hospitals, mental health centres whose mission is based on prevention, cure and rehabilitation of patients with different types of needs.

The challenge that Hospital Benito Menni CASM raised was advancing in its commitment to excellence and thus obtain a recognition that supports its bid for good governance embodied in good results in healthcare quality. In collaboration with Comtec, last year the Center has launched a process of equipment revitalization to facilitate the generation of initiatives and leadership, which, together with the appropriate and technical support has made it possible to project the institutional recognition.

300+, 400+, 500+
300+, 400+ y 500+ seals

Hospital Universitario Sagrado Corazón is the entity which has recently achieved a recognition for excellence in management, taking 400+ seal. The Centre belongs to Quironsalut group and provides all the medical-surgical specialities, being the largest in Barcelona privately owned hospital. With the aim of being an excellent organization, the hospital has worked to maintain higher levels of performance and has promoted and stimulated the improvement towards excellence. The result has been a recognition that valuates a well done job.

Written by Sara Sandalinas Tura

Sara Sandalinas is in charge of Comtec’s internal and external communication. She holds a degree in Journalism from University Ramón Llull that has brought her to explore the myriad fields of her profession, working in media and press offices. Her responsibilities include handling media relations, producing written material, performing analyses and organising corporate presentations and events.

Occupational safety is part of the business strategy

During 2017 there were a total of 503,749 occupational accidents in Spain, of which 484 were fatal. This means that one person was killed in a work-related accident every 18 hours, according to data from the State Observatory on Working Conditions of the National Institute for Safety, Health and Welfare at Work.

In order to reduce these figures, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed the ISO 45001:2018 standard. On March 12, ISO 45001 was published, the first international standard that establishes the requirements to implement an Occupational Health and Safety Management System in any organization, regardless of its size or activity, with the aim of improving working conditions, eliminating or minimizing hazards and risks and reducing the number of occupational accidents and diseases.

The new ISO 45001 standard reinforces the integration of occupational health and safety into the overall business strategy of organizations and emphasizes the importance of context and risk management, not only limited to the negative effect but also to take advantage of the set of circumstances that can lead to improved performance (opportunities). In addition, the demonstration of compliance with legal and other requirements to which the organization subscribes is reinforced, as well as the development of indicators to demonstrate continuous improvement.

Among the main advances, it reinforces the role of senior management in the leadership of the Occupational Health and Safety Management System, as an important part of its business strategy.

Among other advantages, the implementation of ISO 45001 could enable companies to:

  • Decrease the number of accidents at work.
  • Increase productivity, which translates into economic benefits.
  • Reduce absenteeism and staff turnover.
  • Decrease adverse incidents in the workplace.
  • Reduce the cost of insurance premiums.
  • Promote a culture of preventive health and safety, involving employees to play an active role.
  • Facilitate compliance with legal obligations.
  • Improve the image and reputation of organizations.
  • Increase employee confidence

Likewise, ISO 45001 presents the common high-level structure with the most widely used management documents in the world, ISO 9001 (Quality) and ISO 14001 (Environment), so that organizations already certified in these standards will have an easier implementation.

ISO 45001 means the annulment of OHSAS 18001, currently the most widespread for occupational health and safety management. In fact, ISO 45001 meets most of its requirements and incorporates new ones, which translates into a number of improvements for businesses. Companies certified according to OHSAS 18001 have a period of three years, until March 12, 2021, to carry out the migration. The transition may be made during the regular renewal or follow-up auditor during a specific extraordinary audit for the purpose of making such a migration.

If you want to become certified and improve health and safety at work, we can help you.  


Cristina Gascón studied Environmental Science at university and went on to specialise in ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 systems management. She is also a certified expert in occupational health and safety. Her main focus gradually shifted to quality and excellence, obtaining certification as an EFQM accredited assessor. Before joining Comtec, she worked as a quality systems auditor at Applus. Excellence in quality management, continuous improvement, the environment and occupational health and safety are her areas of expertise. She has headed up projects involving ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification, business process management, benchmarking and healthcare accreditation.

The 5S method

The 5S methodology is a Japanese improvement tool developed by Toyota in the 1960s, who popularized it – initially within the automobile sector – but has proven to be a methodology suitable for any company and sector with good results.

It was designed to increase productivity by improving working environments. This approach, focused on people and conditions in the workplace, is part of the essence of the TPS (Toyota Production System), the origin of the Lean methodology that incorporates this method.


The 5S are thus known by the name of their five stages, all of them with the letter S (in Japanese), Seiri (classify), Seiton (order), Seiso (clean), Seiketsu (standardize), Shitsuke (maintain).

SEIRI (classify): The objective of this stage is to identify the elements necessary to develop the activity in the workplace. It is necessary to separate the necessary elements from the unnecessary ones in order to eliminate them. During separation it is important to identify the frequency of use of the required elements as well as the correct quantity. Once the necessary elements identified by frequency are available, they must be classified to group those with similar frequencies of use. It should be noted that the initially separate elements as unnecessary may be necessary for another work center.
The results of this stage are observed with the decrease in stocks, obsolete stocks, a greater useful space and the improvement of productivity among other benefits.


SEITON (order): The objective of this stage is to design a new workspace with the classified elements. You must decide which location is the most appropriate for each thing so that each item has an assigned location, i. e. a place for each thing and that everything is in its place. In order to choose the location of each element, the classification by frequency of use carried out in the previous phase must be taken into account. This way, we will keep those elements with a greater frequency of use as close as possible to the workstation and we will move away from it as the frequency of use decreases.
Once the places have been assigned, it is necessary to organize and arrange all these elements in their space in such a way that they can be easily used. The identification of these spaces helps to keep the elements in place and reinforces the visual character of the methodology, for example by using labels, colours, etc.
At the end of this stage, productivity increases and an improvement in the working environment conditions can be observed, considerably reducing the visual’ stress’ of the worker.


SEISO (cleaning): the objective of this stage is to achieve a clean and safe working environment. A clean working environment facilitates visual inspection and the identification of possible deviations or incidents that previously could go unnoticed, helping to prevent them from entering the value chain causing quality problems. Not only must the cleaning of the work pieces and the environment be carried out, but also the sources of dirt must be identified in order to eliminate or minimise them. During cleaning, it is time to check the entire working environment by eliminating unnecessary elements and placing elements that have been left out of place, thus reinforcing the previous stages.
The improvement of conditions in the workplace and safety for the worker as well as the prevention of incidents in the value chain are the most relevant benefits of this stage.
SEIKETSU (standardization): the objective of this stage is to consolidate the results of the previous stages by incorporating these dynamics into the daily work. Updating of working procedures and instructions is necessary to incorporate the improvements defined in the previous stages. Standardizing the new work dynamics requires updating these procedures, as well as the creation of new documentation that includes the new situations and decisions taken. The new labour standards must be agreed with all the workers involved in order to consolidate the system and facilitate consolidation. Visual management at this stage is more relevant than in previous stages, because managers can identify improvement opportunities more easily.
This stage consolidates and reinforces the previous stages and is necessary in order not to return to the starting point.

SHITSUKE (discipline): the objective of this stage is to maintain the results of the previous stages by incorporating this system into the habits of all workers, creating a culture based on continuous improvement. To this end, the discipline and commitment of all employees is essential to ensure the success in maintaining these results over time. The human factor is key at this stage, which requires individual responsibility, the adoption of new habits, the monitoring of agreements, the participation of all people and constant support from management.
It is advisable to establish at this stage a simple and brief checklist that gives us the level of maintenance of the improvements adopted, not so much with the aim of obtaining a numerical result but so that the person responsible for your application can identify deviations that can be corrected at the same time.


The key to this methodology has been to have an order and sequence in activities that are usually carried out in any company to obtain a correct working environment but that can be carried out in a disorganized and/or incomplete way. The apparent simplicity of this methodology is also its greatest complexity, due to an over-confidence and relaxation once the first results have been obtained, so it is critical to ensure the final Shitsuke stage (discipline).

Lafotografica 016After years devoted to architecture, in 2011 José María López struck out on a new career path when he enrolled in the Master’s programme in Corporate Quality Management at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. There he found his true calling, so he gave up his personal endeavour at Arch and dove headlong into quality consultancy, first at The Flow Factory and later at Comtec. José María is also certified as an EFQM accredited assessor and an internal auditor of ISO 9001 quality management systems. His main area of specialisation is business process management.