I was thinking about the nature of quality in IT work and came across an interesting white paper by IDC, sponsored by Wipro, that’s worth reading. It provides four brief case studies, including one about an international forest products company (must be Weyerhaeuser) that stated that the firm doesn’t include quality as a requirement in its outsourcing contracts, because it’s a “somewhat subjective criterion.” Instead there’s an underlying assumption that the service providers it works with will be quality minded.
What’s interesting to me — and kinda cool — is what’s encompassed by the concept of “quality” by this client. Some things you’d guess: “meeting cost and scheduling requirements,” for example. Those are aspects of the work you can quantify. But other aspects are important too: having a good work ethic and being courteous and flexible. I don’t know about you, but those things are really important to me in the day to day interactions of a business.
The paper proves handy in another way too. It includes a single-page encapsulation of these terms: ISO 9000, CMM, PCMM, CMMI and Six Sigma. Useful if you need to learn some talking points about the concepts before you start talking with service providers (who are bound to fling them about with wild abandon).