Business Moves to Improve

New Zealand business is on the move to improve. major research study just released by the New Zealand Business Excellence Foundation shows that our tough economic environment over the past three years has driven organisations to undertake “business improvement initiatives”.
The survey of 380 organisations representing business, national and local government, not-for-profit, health and education, found that 35 percent of them had initiated business improvement programmes in the past year. Another 33 percent had introduced programmes between one and three years ago. further 18 percent had established programmes even earlier.
The total 86 percent of companies that have got improvement programmes under way compares favourably with the 69 percent of UK organisations that had made similar commitments according to study undertaken by the British Quality Foundation and the British Institute of Management.
The survey is designed to provide insights into New Zealand managers’ needs and will be used by the Foundation to guide it in its development of services for New Zealand organisations.
“This survey tells us that there is groundswell of positive change going on in the New Zealand economy,” says Sue Wright, chief executive of the Business Excellence Foundation. “It also tells us that the drivers for improvement and change are positive – competitive pressure for quality product or service is pushing the improvement initiatives rather than pressure to reduce costs.”
The research, compiled by ACNielsen, is the first major study of its kind undertaken by the Foundation. “We need to base our own strategies on some hard data about the realities, perceptions and needs of New Zealand enterprise,” says Wright. “We need to know what we have to do to support top managers and organisational leaders as they take their organisations from being good to being excellent. To do that we must understand what key issues drive their decision making.”
The survey identified major barrier to performance improvement that New Zealand managers will relate to. majority, 51 percent, suggested lack of time inhibited their ability to implement improvement initiatives. By contrast 30 percent of organisations in the UK survey identified lack of board and top management commitment as barrier to progress.
Pressures on individuals to perform notwithstanding, the survey endorsed other economic surveys which suggest that business is currently more positive about the future. healthy 65 percent of those surveyed said that their business circumstances have improved on 12 months earlier. And 70 percent of them expect their business to improve over the next year.
The majority expect to spend more on capital investment, to lift their revenue and to improve their financial performance. Almost half, 47 percent, expect to increase the number of employees in their organisation.
A healthy number, 43 percent, of generally medium to large organisations – employing more than 50 people – expect to expand their offshore activities in the next 12 months.
The improvement initiatives that are under way cross all areas of businesses activity. More than two thirds of those surveyed are focusing on planning, to identify future directions and improve internal processes. More than 60 percent are concentrating on leadership, employee education and training, access to and use of IT and collection and use of information. “This indicates that many of the key drivers and enablers to achieve excellent performance are currently being addressed in New Zealand organisations,” says Wright.
But business says it needs support to counter the difficulties presented by changes to the regulatory environment and reduction of compliance costs, skills training and business improvement support and development funding. Respondents also rated access to finance and research and development funding as important.
The assistance issues notwithstanding, the Foundation’s research is the best indication of commitment and confidence in New Zealand’s economic future that has surfaced for some years. For more details contact the Foundation by email at [email protected] or visit the website on www.nzbef.org.nz.

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