SRII 2012
Conference paper

Improving service quality through the use of standard workbenches

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Service providers strive to provide consistently high quality services to their clients, in the same way that manufactures strive to provide high quality products to their customers. To paraphrase W. E. Deming, a pioneer in improving manufacturing quality, unnecessary variation leads to poor quality. Eliminating variation, through standardization and better training is one way to improve service quality. With this view in mind, we examined how IBM Global Services delivered business consulting services, especially ERP deployment. Such services follow prescribed methods which specify tasks to perform and work products to deliver. However, how to perform the activities and which tools and starting content to use was left to the individual project. The workbenches that we have implemented and deployed to IBM Global Services aim to eliminating unnecessary variation in how the service is preformed and increasing the reuse of assets. Each tool provides guidance, is integrated with tools providing support for upstream and downstream activities and automates routine activities, where possible. Beyond the benefits achieved by using workbenches to reduce unnecessary variation, and therefore improve quality, we are also seeing significant efficiency gains. In particular, by using standard workbenches, consultants moving from one project to other can easily and quickly get started without having to learn a new environment. This helps consultants increase their efficiency by 20% to 30% when project assignments are short. In addition, we estimate is that IBM will save 60-70% of training cost since consultants will need to learn fewer tools and can take advantage of in-task guidance to learn tasks as needed. Finally, by integrating the complete project lifecycle around a single, integrated, toolset, we are able to push an additional 15% work to global delivery centers, where specialist can perform the same task for many projects, again reducing variation and improving quality. © 2012 IEEE.