Ever scrolled past a perfectly plated dish on your social media feed and wondered what goes into making it worthy of critical acclaim? Well, here’s a look behind the scenes: all successful and popular restaurants have a set of standardized recipes, a head-chef-sous-chef-line-cooks team that collaborates from the point of ideation to execution, and a senior chef who scrutinizes the plated dish and gives it the final touches before passing it on to wait staff.
This due diligence (bordering on an obsession with perfection) has its echoes in the high-pressure world of software development as well. A successful, innovative software project entails standardized processes, collaboration, good governance, and quality control to reach a level of finesse that will wow clients and serve their business interests best.
A dedicated group at TCS ensures that this high standard of output is maintained in our every engagement. Called the Delivery Excellence Group (DEG), this team empowers TCS’ business units to achieve superior delivery while ensuring sustainable and ever-improving output.
One global standard
DEG is the common thread that runs across the TCS organization and its diverse business units and functional groups across the globe, binding them together through a standard set of processes and practices aligned with the Tata group’s core values, TCS’ policies, and a range of industry models and standards. It also helps TCS benchmark its practices against leading industry models such as CMMI DEV, CMMI SVC, IEEE standards for software engineering, and the Tata Business Excellence Model.
The team makes this happen through a combination of proactive management and continuous evolution of the TCS integrated Quality Management System (iQMS™), our one global standard. It also deploys a number of supporting practices that enhance our business performance, collective knowledge, and organizational synergies.
DEG periodically reviews iQMS to ensure that its defined policies, methodologies, and practices are current and relevant to industry best-in-class methods, stakeholder aspirations, and compliance requirements. Changes driven by agile, DevSecOps, cognitive automation, privacy, information security, cloud, and other technology and industry standards are also continually integrated into iQMS. It acts as a proactive engine that enables TCS to embrace change, both inside and outside the organization.
Ahead of the curve
Over the course of the past decade, DEG has spearheaded a campaign that helped TCS achieve its target of being fully Enterprise Agile by 2020. This DEG-enabled transformation – brought about through internal investments, competency-building efforts, and cultural changes – helped upskill over 400,000 associates, making this the biggest such evolution in corporate history. Today, TCS manages the largest agile workforce in the world.
But how did this pan out in an organization that spans several business segments, boasts of a 616,171-strong workforce (as of Q2FY23), and is spread across nearly 50 countries? Well, each of TCS’ operating units has its own Delivery Excellence Group (unit DEG), and these unit DEGs further connect with each TCS project and account. The core DEG team and unit DEGs together coordinate and collaborate to ensure that there is visibility into each active engagement, every step of the way.
The DEG’s work begins right at the time bids are being drawn, when the group ensures that contract commitments are thoroughly captured and consistently tracked. All stakeholders are looped in early enough for relevant knowledge-sharing sessions. Throughout the project life cycle, the DEG team helps the project team with resource and engagement planning, infrastructural requirements, strategic assessments, audits and governance, privacy and IP compliance, and risk assessment and mitigation.
An ear to the ground
Part of the DEG’s governance responsibilities is actively engaging with teams to select the right methodology for each project, helping define the project management plan, addressing information security requirements, and identifying delivery risks. DEG governs delivery through reviews and audits and drives continuous performance improvements through competency development. It also nurtures this performance improvement ecosystem through ideathons revolving around specific business challenges. The resultant ideas are evaluated and appropriately chosen for implementation.
It provides differentiated governance for new-logo customer engagements, high-risk contracts, mission-critical services, and large, strategic critical programs. The DEG also pays attention to client feedback by commissioning project-level customer satisfaction surveys and customer CxO-level Lifeline surveys. It analyzes these inputs, identifying (and implementing) actions for improvement.
How do these DEG teams manage such complex requirements? Well, it’s thanks to the contextual knowledge they have amassed from delivering large programs and service engagements across domains and functions. They also bring together considerable depth from their experience with various industries, technologies, and service lines.
But their growth doesn’t stop there – DEG members continue to develop specializations in areas such as agile application and infrastructure operations, DevSecOps, and knowledge management to foster deep capabilities in each of these areas. Quality processes are routinely calibrated to be in alignment with new technologies, updated service lines, and changing international standards. DEG also drives knowledge management and ensures business outcomes through the identification, creation, amplification, and reuse of insights.
The team also identifies certain client engagements as critical based on their complexity or the risks involved. Such engagements are governed more stringently through a higher reporting and review frequency and involvement of the relevant experts and mentors. Any project that runs the risk of delays, cost overruns, quality issues, or client dissatisfaction is highlighted and tracked to ensure that improvement and mitigation plans are in place to overcome issues and challenges. All this is tracked on a central DEG portal.
Ready for the future
The COVID-19 pandemic not just brought with it changing client needs, but also made it imperative for TCS to update its industry-leading delivery governance framework. The pandemic presented new operational challenges that involved scale, speed, and complexity. So, we pivoted to TCS’ Secure Borderless Workspaces™ (SBWS™) framework, which is now an integral part of our operating model.
DEG teams also swiftly transitioned to remote working and virtual collaboration to sustain service performance and enhance client confidence. They quickly adapted TCS’ quality management processes, governance frameworks, compliance requirements, and security and training efforts to SBWS mode, so that client operations were not impacted.
DEG also developed SBWS guidelines for service delivery to enable TCS teams to continue their business-as-usual activities seamlessly. Today, these guidelines ensure regular updates and communication among TCS’ internal stakeholders as well as clients. Thanks to the strategic capabilities of DEG teams, TCS is positioned to ensure customer satisfaction in all its engagements, and is today a key technology consultant to some of the biggest companies in the world.