Quality in social enterprises

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Applying quality management system to social enterprises for the long-term unemployed

This background document for a workshop held at the 17th European Social Services Conference, Prague, 22-24 June 2009, entitled Quality and Performance in social services in Europe - better outcomes for people was prepared by the Evangelischer Fachverband Arbeit und Soziale Integration e. V. (EFAS), Stuttgart, Deutschland and the Evangelischer Fachverband für Arbeit, berufliche und soziale Integration im DW der Ev. Kirche im Rheinland, Dusseldorf, Deutschland.

The workshop examines the transferability of internationally standardised quality management systems and standards within active inclusion services. The Rheinland-Westfalen-Lippe Diacony shares its own participatory implementation strategy, captured in a step-by-step handbook that offers a comprehensive template for building a QMS, integrating the special needs and conditions of a social enterprise.

Discussion issues

1. The transferability of internationally standardised Quality Management Systems and standards within social services

2. Strategies and means of implementing Quality Management Systems in social institutions (with which instruments and methods can companies promote continuous improvement, with the engagement/involvement of staff/colleagues)?

Project description

Implementation of international quality management systems (DIN EN ISO 9001 and model of the EFQM) within employment and qualification promotion of disadvantaged people as well as development of a strategy for concrete implementation in enterprises.


The Protestant Association Work and Social Integration (EFAS) e.V. is a federal association of employment and qualification enterprises of the Diakonie in Germany, and has 14 Land associations in membership. More than 100 employment and qualification institutions are direct members of EFAS. The mission of the institutions organised within the EFAS is to promote the professional and social qualification as well as the integration of permanently unemployed and difficult to place persons. The Land association of the Protestant Church in the Rhineland has in membership more than 80 social enterprises and institutions, whose aim is the re-integration of disadvantaged persons into the labour market.

In 1998, the EFAS started to install a model quality management system in several qualification and employment enterprises and to develop a quality management handbook on the basis of the experiences gained in the course of this process. The handbook is now in its 3rd edition. It offers a complete template on how to build a quality management system on the basis of ISO 9001 and integrates the special needs and conditions of social enterprises.

Detailed step-by-step guidelines and numerous practical examples are the core features of this tool. The requirements of ISO 9001 and administrative requirements for educational institutions, the so-called AZWV, are illustrated in a practically oriented way, so that it becomes easier for employment and qualification enterprises to build their own QM-System.

Within the Association Work, Professional and Social Integration (ABI), a concept for the introduction of quality management, which is oriented towards the EFQM Excellence Model of the European Foundation for Quality Management, has been developed for and by member enterprises from 2000-2007. For the implementation within the organisational development process, numerous tools have been developed. In particular, the Self Assessment system of the EFQM as a method for the evaluation of the strengths and potential of a company has been further developed and substantiated for application within the social field of action.


1. Implementation of international quality management systems within the social field of action 2. Strategy and methodology for the implementation of Step by Step Quality Development QMSs

In order to introduce systematic, participatory quality development within enterprises, a strategy has been developed. It is called Quality Development Steps and has been further developed with the participation of enterprises over several years.

1st Quality Step: self-evaluation on the basis of the EFQM model

Within the framework of the project, an independent procedure and an evaluation questionnaire for self-evaluations (according to the EFQM model) have been developed. Enterprises use these to introduce and further develop a participatory QM system.

  • procedure for self-evaluation
  • evaluation questionnaire
  • pool of trained moderators

2nd Quality Step: self-evaluation + systematic project planning + validation

The next step is continuous further self-evaluations as well as plans and the implementation of improvement projects, which will be controlled by a developed validation system.

  • validation procedures
  • project planning and implementation aids
  • pool of trained validators

3rd Quality Step: development of a certifiable QM-system

The following step consists of the systematic development of a complete quality management system on the basis of the EFAS model QM-handbook. The model handbook understands itself as a practice manual (best practice experiences) for the implementation of international Q norms in the social field of action.

  • EFAS model QM handbook
  • Pool of trained QM advisers
  • Advisory services

Proposed workshop format

The workshop will use the “Fast Networking” method. This method allows for a dynamic introduction into the subject, introduces new topics and activates the knowledge of all participants. It quickly assesses the thematic know-how of a group. Through mini-interviews, the relevant knowledge of all participants will be inquired into, compressed, visualised and presented in the plenum.

The participants visualise their results already during the workshop. These visualisations serve as a basis for the workshop report and will be complemented with audio and image documentation, which we will make during the workshop.


Workshop background document
17th European Social Services Conference, Prague, 22-24 June 2009
Quality and Performance in social services in Europe - better outcomes for people
Contact: Susanne Hohenschild, Quality Management Officer, Renatec Society for Rehabilitation and New Work, Dusseldorf, Germany
e-mail: hohenschild@renatec.de
Co-presenter: Ursula Gröning, Advisor on Labour Market Politics and Employment Promotion, Diakonie Rheinland-Westfalen-Lippe e. V, Dusseldorf, Germany