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4.2.3. Quality

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Quality has been mentioned in conjunction with cost, as most companies realise that cost savings cannot be truly realised without attention to quality. My research generally confirmed that this issue is considered seriously for the European firms that are offshoring IT services to Morocco.

My respondents noted that a key aspect of control of the progression of their projects is the adherence to quality and international standards. ISO-9000, CMM and Six-Sigma recurred as the dominant quality indicators used by most offshoring companies.

At Firm3, with its level 5, CMM certification became a benchmark for the company’s offshore centres. They noted that they experienced productivity and increased stability once they achieved Level 4 in their Moroccan centre. They argued that initially, it may take some additional time on the first few projects, but the investment is repaid in subsequent efforts. They also have software tools that greatly reduce the risk of failure in their offshore work by rapidly deploying a roadmap designed to reduce the rate of requirements failures and cycle time to complete the requirements phase of a typical software project. As teams accumulate cycles of learning with the roadmap, it becomes a highly efficient way to establish a quantitative baseline for development activities and to continually improve these activities.

« Our quality methodology allows us to achieve speedy, consistent, quality results in all our undertakings. A comprehensive methodology is applied to all our processes to ensure that our customers are provided with solutions and services that are consistently of an extremely high quality. »

At firm1, quality is the top priority and doing work with their CMM certified Moroccan partner was viewed as a way to elevate the importance of process improvement of their offshore projects. Their quality assurance typically involves a staged process of evaluation of projects throughout their lifecycles and from multiple perspectives. Quality in their Moroccan affiliate is assured through two main types of activity: guidance and auditing. It was interesting to note that ITIL methodology is also strongly advocated by the company for IT governance.

« Our quality assurance plans to contractually guarantee quality and service levels. Our Moroccan engineers are well versed in the most suitable methods for each work phase and are backed by quality assurance plans based on the group’s global management system. This system is the basis on which our software and Telecom activities obtained CMM certification and complies with ITIL requirements. »

According to Firm4, quality can easily be taught, and simply requires emphasis and effort to succeed. Thanks to the ISO-9000 certification of their Moroccan centre, they are able to keep projects on schedule and under control through tollgate reviews based on quantitative dashboards. The teams can quickly deploy a measurement-based process to remove the subjectivity of requirements data and significantly improve the quality of consequent development activity. The firm’s quality management system defines, documents, measures and improves processes continuously. They argued that quality is the responsibility of each individual contributor in the company, and that all employees participate in the continuous advancement of quality in all their activities and work products.

« ISO is a valuable credential on the global IT market and it is a competitive differentiator. We have made particular efforts in training our Rabat centre staff to ISO standards, which bring together all the best practices in IT production and support services. »

A design for Six Sigma approach is another way that Firm1 have experienced in the past to make better decisions about how, when and how much to deploy offshore. It was the key to achieving breakthrough results in many of their previous projects.

However, Firm2 doesn’t have any quality certification. They consider that if a company offshores a poorly specified, unstructured, complex project, it can expect in return a cheap but dysfunctional piece of software requiring many person and hours of post-release support and perhaps even cancellation. They noted that, currently, direct communication between their client, their Spanish teams and their Moroccan engineers provided assurances that substituted for CMM-provided credentials. They also argued that just because a company professes to be a CMM Level 3 or 4, it doesn’t mean that the project outcome will exhibit Level 3 or 4 performance characteristics. This is especially true if the base company’s requirements process exhibits less than Level 1 characteristics. Conversely, they are not excluding the eventuality of seeking to get an ISO or CMM certification in the future.

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