Managing Quality in Outsourcing Engagements
Most of us are quick to make up our mind on how we feel about the quality of a product or service. But what exactly are the standards that we measure the quality against? In order to make an intelligent and unbiased assessment of any product’s quality, we need to first lay down the broad parameters used to define and measure its merits. Quality can be achieved in outsourcing engagements by creating and following policies and procedures that ensure that the project meets the intended goals. In this post I would like to share with you some of the processes that we have put in place to help us deliver quality solutions to our customers. Our outsourcing quality management methodology comprises of three iterative stages:
The first step towards delivery quality services is defining the standards and benchmarks that need to be met in the end product at the start of the engagement. This helps set realistic expectations with the client based on the time and cost constraints. The project management team can then plan the execution roadmap based on well-defined standards that need to be achieved. It’s important to follow procedures to manage change requests since any diversions from the plan create breakdowns in product quality. We have adopted ISO and CMMI standards to help put structure in our processes and ensure that the entire team follows a common framework when building products and creating solutions. Our project management teams follow Agile processes to give us the flexibility to meet changing requirements while still managing quality.
We conduct a quality-planning workshop at the start of every project. The outcome of this session is a checklist that the team needs to follow strictly through the course of the engagement. For example, to make sure that a release is rolled out without glitches, the team should follow a standard deployment checklist that outlines each activity such as database backup schedule, firewall settings and user management. We also create a Quality Baseline against which the quality audit team can measure the performance of an engagement.
We have created an internal Quality Audit team whose job is to constantly review engagements to make sure that every team is complying with internal as well as external policies and standards. The audits occur in a timely manner to create consciousness to follow standards. Over time it becomes part of an organizations culture. The audit team comes up with a list of recommended changes and corrective actions needed to improve the delivery. We share the findings from our internal audits with clients to create transparency and discuss our performance on various metrics such as on-time delivery and product defects.
When problems are identified, we implement changes in our implementation methodology, project plan and resource allocation. Our project managers ensure that the quality plan is being correctly executed; appropriate fixes are being implemented wherever there are gaps; and all deficiencies are being corrected.
Ignoring quality standards creates risks in outsourcing engagements and ultimately results in poor delivery. A conscious effort to adopt best practices in quality management improves customer satisfaction.