Driving services’ quality in organizations is often equated with adherence to service level agreements and delivery process certifications. However, the end-users are seen to generally continue experiencing low satisfaction with services and a delivery risk perception. Service providers (internal and external) may often not be totally aligned with this view.
Deloitte’s 2019 Global Shared Services survey indicates an overwhelming objective (86% of the 379 respondents) to deliver continuous improvements over the next 3 to 5 years . Organizations are also increasingly focused on managing risks and resulting costs from data privacy breach and non-compliance with regulations (76% of the 521 respondents’ outsourcing decisions were impacted by such risks).
Presently, COVID-19 has led many organizations to adopt virtual, distributed delivery models, often testing the robustness of Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and Disaster Recovery (DR) plans which generally did not factor in ‘Work from home’ component at this scale. Further, a significant number of organizations today have complex and disparate processes, often requiring to scale quickly and/ or incubate additional processes in response to business situations (83% of the 379 respondents planned to increase the unique scope areas delivered from their GICs over next 3 to 5 years).
These, and additional business imperatives, are leading organizations to critically assess their quality management processes and systems. Often, a less than desired performance in this area is attributed to a siloed and tactical approach, inability to engage users upfront, inability to embed quality concepts/ controls upstream while designing and building service outcomes/ experiences, and a disproportionate focus on hygiene standards for business as usual operations.
Quality Management Program, benefits and applications
Quality Management Program (QMP) needs to be looked at in a different perspective, as an integrated framework, to help continuously monitor and improve service delivery, by embedding design elements and controls as the services move through different phases of the delivery lifecycle, i.e. design, build, and run. QMP also addresses quality-related requirements of multiple functions and stakeholders who either receive or are impacted by the services (i.e. technical design, privacy, certification, procurement, communications, change management, account management). In such situations, leadership alignment is critical, yet often elusive generally due to complex governance mechanisms and unclear accountabilities. Through a holistic approach covering all stages of services evolution and all stakeholder groups, QMP can help converge perspectives and drive leadership alignment for the overall benefit of the organization and its stakeholders.
QMP benefits organizations through reduced delivery costs, higher work standardization, increased productivity, mitigated risks, consistent end-user experience, improved end-user satisfaction and a culture of continuous improvements.
QMP also allows better preparedness on part of organizations to respond to potential disruptions. Leaders in organizations that have QMP in place are likely to be more confident of navigating through the changes brought about in the COVID-19 world and beyond.
A good example of a recent such change is the agility with which organizations are having to broaden the concept of resiliency from the prevalent approach of building redundancy in roles, worksites and connectivity at a group or cluster level. With Work From Home (WFH) likely to become the new normal, resiliency planning now needs to incorporate these considerations at an individual level, to ensure quality of service delivery is sustained and improved over time.
QMP is also expected to catalyze and enforce recalibration of Business Continuity Plans (BCP) and Disaster Recovery (DR) provisions for organizations to emerge stronger in the post-COVID-19 era:
- Disruptive event/ impact assessment, mitigation and recovery plans will need to factor in failure scenarios representing the current situation (i.e. concurrent worldwide service delivery being impacted).
- Operations playbooks will need to be amended to ensure clarity of roles, accountabilities and workflows in such situations.
- Internal service level agreements and third-party vendors’ contractual obligations will require provisions for minimum service thresholds, governance and communication protocol to address issues and mechanism for handling breaches/disputes specifically addressing this situation.
- Cross-functional/ departmental teams working towards the adoption of virtualization, digitization and automation as key levers to mitigate physical dependence, are likely to gain prominence.
- Regular stress testing, to ensure a flexible yet secure work environment across the organization’s extended ecosystem is expected to become critical.
QMP holds relevance across sectors that treat service quality as a key differentiator and follow industry level standards such as ISO, Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM), to name a few. Services organizations (e.g., IT, BPM, Telecom, Healthcare Providers, Financial Services, Education, Travel & Hospitality, Transport, Professional services), with large operations, are likely to experience greater improvement in business performance through investments in holistic QMP. This can be enabled through enhanced process focus (meaningful at scale), alongside customer centricity and employee empowerment.
Success factors and role of GICs
Executive sponsorship and stakeholder alignment: Leadership commitment is critical to communicate the objectives and benefits of QMP, support required investments, and facilitate an environment conducive to its success amidst conflicting viewpoints and priorities. A Quality Review Board (QRB) involving senior, diverse subject matter experts across organizational functions can help in promoting joint accountability and helps secure alignment at the required stages. Requisite QRB roles need to be exercised at appropriate points through the journey (e.g., a service close to deployment is reviewed for readiness by a change management leader with veto rights). Risks to service deployment and delivery should be reviewed from multiple perspectives (e.g., services with third-party dependency – asset or constituent sub-service – should be assessed by procurement/ vendor management) for potential delivery risks and timely mitigation.
Lifecycle approach: A successful QMP is largely contingent on effective requirements gathering from multiple perspectives such as customer, solution architect, security and privacy experts, and business finance. QMP should also incorporate views from the deployment, change management and operations teams through rigorous checks at intermediate stages of design, build and run, so that services can be deployed and run with near to zero issues upfront. It is imperative to focus not just on turnaround times and service effectiveness, but also proactively embed best practices on compliance management, risk management, performance management, document management, and root cause analyses.
Adaptability and Culture: The QMP process needs to be scalable, to implement required changes quickly across different processes, while also ensuring customization to reflect the nature of services and their stage in the lifecycle (design, build, or run). Automation tools should be leveraged for purposes such as integrated monitoring and reporting covering the portfolio of services across the lifecycle. Organizations also need to institutionalize practices and incentives to maintain quality baseline, measure and report quality metrics, and continuously assess and implement quality improvements. This is seen to be critical to sustain a culture of quality in the long run.
Global In-house Centers (GICs) have, over the last decade, emerged as a key pillar within the integrated services chain of organizations, both through in-house delivery as well as the integration of third party services. In doing so, they have also established quality as a cornerstone of service delivery. The time seems now ripe for GICs to propagate QMP on a sustained basis through not just their own environment, but the larger organization, in order to address the heightened imperatives around quality in today’s circumstances.
By Punish Mishra, Partner and Shailesh Narwaiye, Director, Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu India LLP