September 2010

TBEM finds a European foothold

Rajesh Bhatt, general manager of the nascent TQMS Europe, talks about how the quality-improvement programme is helping Tata companies in Europe enhance their business excellence quotient

When was the TQMS Europe office set up and what are the business excellence activities that you carry out from this office?
The business excellence process in the UK started with Tetley adopting the Tata Business Excellence Model (TBEM) in 2006 and participating in the external assessment process in 2007. During this time, Tata Motors European Training Centre (TMETC) also expressed its interest in TBEM and, subsequently, participated in the external assessment process. Gradually, our business excellence activities gained momentum. As the need for support from TQMS started to increase substantially, our executive committee decided to have a person from the organisation assist Tata companies in the UK and Europe.

The TQMS Europe office at Ashorne Hill, Leamington Spa, became operational in April 2009. It provides the same services and support as our offices in India, including assistance to companies on their business excellence journey, building capability through TBEM training sessions, assessment of companies on their business excellence maturity, and running assignments that are focused on improvements.

How receptive have the companies been to TBEM?
Overall, there is positive traction from the companies on comprehending the details of TBEM and understanding the benefits it brings to their businesses.

Tata Steel Europe and TMETC have been especially positive about using TBEM to enhance the maturity of their businesses. Most of the units of Tata Steel Europe have initiated TBEM and are at different levels of maturity. Brunner Mond and Tata Global Beverages have been a little slow but are now picking up steam. Recently, Jaguar Land Rover has also initiated its business excellence journey.

However, it will take time for these companies to embed TBEM as a management system to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their businesses.

What is the kind of help these companies expect and require from TQMS?
During the initial phase of TBEM adoption, these companies expect us to handhold them to create awareness about the process and its benefits. This happens through workshops and training sessions with their senior leadership team and other executives.

They also want to understand their current level of maturity and the focus areas for improvement. This is achieved through a quick assessment of their business, which results in the development of a roadmap for various business excellence activities.

As more people start understanding and implementing the details of TBEM, they need focused interventions for alignment and improvement of their organisations; this is achieved through specific assignments.

What are the challenges you face in helping companies in their business excellence journey?
The challenge is to understand that every geography has its own culture and to be aware of the nuances of each. What works in one culture may not work in the same manner in another; there is a need for adapting. One needs to be constantly aware of this in all interactions, be it training, assessment or any other assignment.

How many training programmes have you conducted? Are they different from those in India?
In the last two years, we have conducted about 30 TBEM awareness sessions covering around 650 people, and about 15 TBEM assessor programs covering 250 people. And the demand is increasing. These training programmes are similar to those that are conducted in India. The focus in the last financial year has been to increase awareness of the TBEM process in this geography and to increase the pool of assessors and their participation in TBEM external assessments.

Which are the companies where the assessment process has begun? Do you get assessors from India or are local managers trained to do the assessing?
In 2009, two units from Tata Steel Europe — Strip Products UK and Distribution Europe — participated in external assessments; in 2010, four organisations are participating in external assessments: Tata Global Beverages, TMETC, and two units of Tata Steel Europe (Packaging Plus and Distribution Europe). We have also conducted ‘dip check’ assessments for three Tata Steel units (Packaging Plus, Long Products and Building Systems) and for Brunner Mond and Tata Global Beverages.

Assessors for these as well as other assessments are handled centrally by the external assessment process team at TQMS’s Pune office. The trained assessors from Europe have become part of the central assessor pool and participate in assessments at various Tata companies across the world.

What has been the impact of TQMS’s European presence on the companies there?
Our presence in UK and Europe has helped expedite the business excellence movement in the various Tata companies there. These companies are now aware that there is a resource available locally to interact with, seek guidance from and receive help in understanding and implementing. In addition, The Tata Network Forum Europe enables companies to share and learn from one another.