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The Softtek Story

Blanca Treviño is CEO of Softtek, a Mexican company with headquarters in Monterrey. Softtek is the largest independent IT service provider in Latin America with almost 6,000 employees and offices in 13 countries. The company was founded in 1982 and grew steadily until 2000 when Ms. Treviño became the CEO. Since then, the corporate growth rate has exceeded 30% per year. Softtek has long operated in North and South America and Europe, but it recently opened operations in five more countries: Venezuela, Chile, Paraguay, England, and China.

From the outset, Softtek focused on quality as a key marketing discriminator. It was one of the first Latin American companies to implement the Software Engineering Institute's (SEI's) software development practices and was assessed at CMMI1 level 3 in 2000. In 2004, Softtek's development groups achieved the SEI's coveted level 5 rating, the highest CMMI level. While this was an important achievement, it was not unique to Softtek. In fact, many of its competitors had also achieved the same high rating. To compete and be successful, the Softtek managers had to maintain their quality rating and also devise some new way to provide their customers with unique products and services.

Ms. Treviño knew that Softtek had to be unique to stay competitive and continue to grow. Trying to compete on price alone would be a losing game because, although Mexican labor costs were below those in the United States, Canada, and Europe, companies from India and China had an even lower cost structure. She therefore established a corporate goal of being the highest-quality software provider in Latin America and among the best in the world. Her objective was to offer such high-quality products and to provide such predictable and responsive services that Softtek's customers would make it their preferred supplier.

To achieve her corporate goal, Ms. Treviño knew that Softtek had to make some significant changes to both maintain and improve the productivity and quality of its engineering work and to differentiate itself from the competition. She therefore had her technical groups introduce the method the SEI had developed for knowledge work, the Team Software Process (TSP). The success of the TSP in improving engineering performance, coupled with Softtek's "near-shore" advantages in the U.S. marketplace, has enabled the company to attract a growing volume of profitable business and to expand its IT services business rapidly.

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