Business excellence is the systematic use of quality management principles and tools in business management, with the goal of improving performance based on the principles of customer focus, stakeholder value, and process management. Key practices in business excellence applied across functional areas in an enterprise include continuous and breakthrough improvement, preventative management and management by facts. Some of the tools used are the balanced scorecard, Lean, the Six Sigma statistical tools, process management, and project management.
Business excellence, as described by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM), refers to "outstanding practices in managing the organization and achieving results, all based on a set of eight fundamental concepts." These concepts are "results orientation, customer focus, leadership and constancy of purpose, management by processes and facts, people development and involvement, continuous learning, innovation and improvement; partnership development, and public responsibility."
In general, business excellence models have been developed by national bodies as a basis for award programs. For most of these bodies, the awards themselves are secondary in importance to the widespread adoption of the concepts of business excellence, which ultimately leads to improved national economic performance. By far the majority of organizations that use these models do so for self-assessment, through which they may identify improvement opportunities, areas of strength, and ideas for future organizational development. Users of the EFQM Excellence Model, for instance, do so for the following purposes: self-assessment, strategy formulation, visioning, project management, supplier management, and mergers. The most popular and influential model in the western world is the Malcolm Baldrige Award Model (also known as the Baldrige model, the Baldrige criteria, or the criteria for performance excellence), launched by the US government. More than 60 national and state/regional awards base their frameworks upon the Baldrige criteria.