Though the SI’s proposals focus on the benefits the client is intended to receive from these quality reviews, the SIs are actually realizing a large portion of the benefits. Here’s how to ensure you benefit as well.
System integrators (such as Accenture, IBM, EY, Deloitte, PwC, Capgemini, etc.) often price regular quality reviews as a requirement in their large engagements. These reviews are designed to ensure the overall quality of the program as well as provide an independent view of risks and issues. But in many cases, the balance of benefits from these reviews has shifted from the client to the system integrator (SI). I’ve even heard these reviews referred to as the SI’s “Quality Tax.” Fortunately, there are steps you can take turn that tax into value.
How SIs Benefit From Quality Reviews
Though the SI’s proposals focus on the benefits the client is intended to receive from these quality reviews, the SIs are actually realizing a large portion of the benefits. Here’s how:
- The results can provide a clearly defined audit trail of advice recommended to the client. If clients are not willing to heed the advice of the onsite project team, the quality review results can be used to emphasize this point. This formal documentation also provides a record of such nonadherence in the unfortunate event that a project fails in some aspect that was directly related to these points.
- Early detection of poor SI project team performance can be corrected quickly. This will mitigate potential risks associated with contractual penalties and minimize client friction points.
- In a review of the plan and estimates to complete, the quality review can reveal potential gaps in the current contract or future gaps that can be closed through the execution of a project change order.
- Misalignment of expectations between the integrator and key stakeholders can be identified. With enough lead time, the SI can work to lower the client’s expectations and allow the project team to potentially meet or exceed these lowered standards. By exceeding expectations, SIs build in a psychological barrier to prevent clients from considering other sourcing options.
- Access to project stakeholders allows the SI to identify potential sales opportunities both internal and external to the program.
Ten Ways to Enhance the Value of Quality Reviews
So how can you regain the benefits as a client and remove the quality tax? Here are ten ways to change the value quotient over the lifecycle of an SI engagement.
During the contracting phase:
1. Interview the Quality Lead to ensure they have the required skills and experience. The lead should have relevant industry, content and delivery qualifications, be independent from the delivery and sales team, and be incented by successful program delivery with minimized business risk.
2. Have the proposed Quality Lead submit logs of potential risks, issues, and key dependencies. This will allow the project team to be proactive in addressing these risks and issues.
3. Use the log to clearly define the scope of the quality review and consider adding client responsibilities to the scope. Like it or not, the SI depends on the client not fulfilling all of their responsibilities as a reason to submit change orders. Having the SI provide a review of client responsibilities allows the client to close these gaps.
Prior to each scheduled review:
4. Develop an inventory or list of specific issues/potential risks that you want the QA partner to address. Results of the review that are not aligned with your list of issues can be addressed in the results review session. Include specific instructions for the QA partner to provide remediation plans.
5. Prepare stakeholders for the quality review.Coordinate the key issues and questions across the stakeholders. Each stakeholder should be given 2-3 issues to communicate. This way, the depth of the issue can be explained sufficiently with the quality partner.
During the quality review:
6. Assign a client Quality Executive to shadow the QA process and participate in meetings.This will allow the client to develop an internal quality assurance skill set. This technique will also allow for a more balanced view of the project.
7. Provide supporting documentation. SI quality leads will allocate a limited amount of time in support of the quality review. As a client, you want to maximize the time they spend on issue resolution rather than issue identification.
As part of the quality review readout:
8. Insist on a timely readout from the quality review. Project sponsor meetings should be scheduled within two weeks of the onsite reviews. To ensure reports are issued with expediency, a summary review of the quality review results along with action plans should be planned as an agenda item.
9. Request that the Quality Executive provides an opinion on all areas that have been agreed to be assessed. This ensures that the scope of the quality review was as intended. Quality issues with the SI’s performance are typically logged on an internal quality review site and actions must be taken to resolve quality issues. By pushing for the quality areas that you want addressed to be logged, you increase the likelihood that these issues will be addressed rapidly.
Following the audit:
10. Log all identified issues and remediation plans in the formal project issue tracker. Recommended issue resolution actions can then be prioritized, assigned, and planned within the overall context of the project plan. Regular reviews of the issue and risk register should be used to close out and report on actions to be taken as a result of the quality review.
Taking these steps, you can ensure that you are gaining more value from the regular quality reviews you have with your SI.
Reprinted with permission. © IDG Communications, Inc., 2020. All rights reserved.