It has won the following awards: the Northern Ireland Quality Award (twice); the Supreme Irish Quality Award; the parent company's overall quality award (four times); and the British Quality Award. With a turnover f around 258 million, it is among the top 10 companies in Northern Ireland, and is viewed as an exemplar by many local organizations. In addition, BTNI is one f the few companies in Ulster to have undertaken both TQM and large-scale BPR.
The need for effective change management dates back to the mid-1980s when the parent company was privatized. Its former monopoly status and Civil Service ethos did little to equip the company to survive and prosper in a market-place which was changing at a rapid rate and becoming increasingly competitive. It quickly became apparent that a new culture, skills and value system were needed--the customer could no longer remain out f sight and out f mind'.
Accordingly, this subsidiary, which with around 2600 employees is the smallest f the nine geographical zones' that together cover the whole f the UK, began its formal total quality journey in 1986. Senior management, with involvement from the corporate chief executive office, drew up the company's vision statement and quality policy, and its first cost f quality exercise was undertaken. This revealed that BTNI was overmanned, inefficient and expensive. Benchmarking exercises indicated that BT had approximately 10 times more staff than some f its major competitors. At this point the company could be described as being in crisis'. Its response to this crisis is interesting and informative.
Response to crisis. Many writers believe that companies which regard themselves as being in crisis have no option but to re-engineer. It is also argued that the potential risks f BPR make it a last option for businesses, used only for company turnaround. Ryan (1994), for example, states that, in reality, crisis is the necessary trigger to push companies into such radical change. Talwar (1993) takes the opposite view, arguing that high-performing companies are more likely to undertake BPR. This is consistent with Bashein et al. (1994), who consider that re-engineering in a crisis may be inappropriate, as crisis can promote fear and even panic, neither f which is conducive to focused BPR. At BTNI, rather than immediately rushing into re-engineering, senior management developed a complex and long-term change strategy, key elements f which were BS 5750/ISO 9000 accreditation, total quality and, finally, process re-engineering.
BTNI's improvement journey. Once the vision statement and quality policy were in place, a Quality Council was established to drive the company's improvement efforts. Figure 1, which maps the company's improvement journey, is revealing. As can be seen, early moves towards TQM in the mid-1980s proved less than successful, when compared with the rate f improvement achieved after BS 5750 accreditation. This was awarded for the company's maintenance operations in 1988/89 and for installation in 1991, followed by ISO 9001 accreditation for all parts f the company in 1993. BTNI's experience is consistent with