Growing to the next level

More SMEs are charting their long-term growth paths through the Business Excellence initiative.

IN recent years, Enterprise Singapore's (ESG) Business Excellence initiative has placed a greater emphasis on getting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to join the programme.

SMEs form the backbone of Singapore's economy, employing two-thirds of the country's workforce and contributing about half of the Republic's gross domestic product (GDP) .

To cater to this segment, ESG has rolled out tools and assistance over the years designed to support SMEs in their pursuit of superior performance.

Among other benefits, BE-certified SMEs have used the framework as a tool to enhance their systems and processes to pursue continuous improvement.

Apart from helping these businesses build a strong foundation for future growth, BE also acts as a badge of quality, helping enterprises to gain the trust of clients, as well as gain access to new business opportunities.

Logistics company Shalom International Movers is one SME which has benefited from implementing the BE Framework.

"BE has given us the confidence to forge ahead knowing that we are on the right track, that we have best practices in place while still providing us with the direction on areas of improvement. It has also instilled in our people pride and assurance that they have contributed to building a quality organisation," said Shalom's chief operating officer Gabriel Lam.

"We strongly believe in building our people before our business and as such our people live up to our six core values of: Safety, Honesty, Assurance, Life-long Learning, Ownership, and Mastery. So it was fulfilling for all to be recognised with the Singapore Quality Class (SQC) with People and Innovation niches," he added.

And while Shalom has been around since 1982 and is well known in the industry, the SQC mark has given the company additional credibility and enhanced its branding as a reputable organisation which operates according to best practices.

Said Mr Lam: "This added assurance to our customers and partners is invaluable."


For SLS Bearings, the BE initiative has given the mechanical components distributor a standard to benchmark itself against.

"Undergoing the assessment for the SQC has provided us with an affirmation that we are on the right track in terms of people development and customer service. At the same time, it has also given us fresh perspectives on various aspects in running our business, as well as access to best practice resources," said SLS Bearings CEO Roy Tan.

SLS started its BE journey in 2003, when it was awarded the People Developer Standard.

Since then, it has continued to focus on developing talent within the organisation. "We are a people-focused and customer-centric organisation. That is why, in pursuing the SQC under the auspices of the BE Framework, it is natural that we have chosen to focus on deepening our capabilities within the niche areas of People and Services," said Mr Tan.

One of the initiatives that came out of the BE process was the setting up of an in-house training programme to equip the firm's engineers with technical knowhow and product knowledge. Known as SLS Academy, the programme features Green, Blue and Black belt certifications covering basic to advanced levels of competencies.

The SQC mark has also helped cement the company's reputation as a trusted partner to its suppliers, partners and customers. "In Singapore, we are the first in the mechanical component distribution and solutions industry to earn this accreditation. For our customers, this endorsement is an assurance that they are dealing with a reliable partner and serves as a useful reference point on their buying journey. In the region, we have a footprint in Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Mongolia," said Mr Tan.


Both Shalom and SLS are leveraging the foundation that BE has provided their companies to forge ahead with their long-term growth plans.

Indeed, Mr Tan believes that the quest for excellence never ends, as there is always room for continuous improvement. As such, SLS has embarked on several initiatives, including embracing digital solutions, to raise productivity and strengthen existing capabilities. This includes phasing in the use of tablets to replace manual data entry at its warehousing systems. This has freed up resources that can be deployed in other business-critical areas.

Said Mr Tan: "We will continue to use the BE Framework as a guide and model for how a world-class organisation should operate. Ultimately, we want to raise the bar so that we are the benchmark for our industry."

For Shalom, the BE experience has helped to change the organisation's mindset. "Shalom thinks differently these days. It is the yearning for continuous improvement that we believe will prove most valuable," noted Mr Lam.

"We believe it was one of the reasons behind our company being officially recognised as a Great Place to Learn in 2018, Great Place to Work in 2018, and one of Asia's Best Workplaces in 2019 with SQC in Innovation and People niches as the cherry on top of the cake."