The Performance Excellence Award process includes the following steps:


The process begins with the organization submitting a Letter of Intent (due March 1, June 1, or September 1). Two months later, the organization submits an application – either a narrative application (limited to 50 pages and including full responses to the Baldrige Criteria questions), or a Baldrige Express survey conducted with its workforce (either full staff or a sampling). The narrative application offers the opportunity for the organization to thoroughly describe processes and corresponding results (usually written by a small number of leaders and practitioners) and oftentimes facilitates deep internal dialogue about the strengths and gaps of an organization’s operations. Contrastingly, the Express survey is a quicker, sometimes easier way to get a breadth of opinion of the performance of your organization’s system. For either method (narrative or Express), the Network has expert resources in our Consultant Referral Network ( to assist organizations, as desired.

Independent Review

The narrative (or Baldrige Express) is independently reviewed by a team of eight to 12 trained, volunteer Evaluators to identify strengths and improvement opportunities through the perspective of the best practices in the Baldrige Criteria and through the filter of your Organizational Profile (which describes your operating environment, strategic challenges, and other key organizational factors). Teams are built balancing many factors, including sector/industry knowledge, functional expertise, Baldrige experience, and leadership experience.

Consensus & Site Visit

The team then forms a consensus view of the organization’s strengths and improvement opportunities before conducting a site visit to verify perceived strengths and clarify possible improvement opportunities. Site visits are two to four days, depending on the size, complexity, and maturity of the organization, and site visits also offer an opportunity for deep organizational learning for the applicant organization, as the dialogue with a team of professionals oftentimes leads to organizational insights.

Improvement Planning

The output of our process is a comprehensive feedback report, which includes a list of key themes (similar to an executive summary), description of strengths and improvement opportunities by Criteria Item, and scores. Our final step is an Improvement Planning Session. Scheduled about a month after site visit, this two/three-hour facilitated session is intended to 1) promote understanding of the feedback report, and 2) work with senior leaders to prioritize improvement opportunities that oftentimes serves as input to an organization’s planning process.

MN/SD/ND Performance Excellence Award

Although the primary goal of our assessment is learning and improvement, we also recognize levels of performance excellence through the Performance Excellence Award. Established in 1991, the Award is given to well over 100 organizations that successfully complete an assessment (using either narrative-based or survey-based approach). We have four Award levels, intended to recognize organizations for where they are in their journey: Commitment, Advancement, Achievement, Excellence (the “role model” organization). Recognition is delivered at our annual spring conference.


The Network offers a “rolling schedule” for the assessment process, allowing your organization to pick a timeframe that works best for your planning and operational cycles. A schedule is as follows:

    • Spring/Summer
    • Summer/Fall
    • Fall/Winter
    • Letter of Intent Due
    • Mar 1 Spring/Summer
    • June 1 Summer/Fall
    • Sept 1 Fall/Winter
    • Application Due
    • May 1 Spring/Summer
    • Aug 1 Summer/Fall
    • Nov 1 Fall/Winter
    • Site Visits
    • Aug/Sept Spring/Summer
    • Nov/Dec Summer/Fall
    • Feb/Mar Fall/Winter
    • Improvement Planning
    • Sept/Oct Spring/Summer
    • Dec/Jan Summer/Fall
    • Mar/Apr Fall/Winter


Award evaluation fees are based on the size and complexity of organization. Base fees are as follows:


  • Small Organizations (1 site and/or 1-999 employees) $7,500* - $10,000**
  • Medium Organizations (2-3 sites and/or 1000-9999 employees) $10,000* - $13,000**
  • Large Organizations (4+ sites and/or 10,000+ employees) $14,000* - $18,000**

*Member **Non-Member

Call PEN for a discussion regarding your organization’s fees. Discounts are available for certain non-profit organizations and small businesses. Fees cover all costs associated with our assessment process, including the Evaluator team’s Independent Review, Consensus, Site Visit, Feedback Report preparation, Improvement Planning Session, and judging for the Performance Excellence Award. For organizations with out-of-state travel requirements, with significant in-state travel requirements, and/or with significantly more than four sites, the fees may be increased to cover additional site visit costs.