The Softtek Experience
Starting in 2007, Softtek has been introducing the methods described in this book. The company's early TSP pilot projects were highly manageable, its people had more rewarding and satisfying work lives, and its customers were increasingly satisfied. In those parts of the business that used these new methods, Softtek improved its project performance, enhanced its product offerings, and improved its employees' quality of work life. It also improved profitability and accelerated corporate growth.
The new TSP knowledge-working methods also helped Softtek's technical teams improve their record of on-time and within-cost development performance. One large global financial institution even challenged Softtek to become its highest-performing software supplier in Latin America. After introducing the methods described in this book, and for almost a full year to date, Softtek's development teams have not missed any of this customer's quality or on-time delivery goals. This performance has earned them their customer's highest rating as a services provider, and for the next year, Softtek became that customer's IT services vendor with the highest proportion of the customer's business. In fact, the customer has even asked its other software vendors to consider using the TSP methods described in this book.
While Softtek had previously had an excellent record of delivering products on schedule and within contracted costs, its development performance has recently improved to such an extent that it can offer more development contracts on a fixed-price basis. This convinced many clients to move from a cost-plus to a managed-services delivery model for their projects. The customers are happy to have a more predictable cost structure, and Softtek has a higher-valued set of customer contracts. While some of this improvement was due to improved project management, a major part was a direct result of Ms. Treviño's drive for superior quality.
Product quality became so predictable and Softtek's products had so few defects that the company decided to offer quality guarantees. In selected cases, Softtek even included quality warranties in development contracts and promised to refund the customer's money for every defect found in customer acceptance testing or use. Initially, Softtek set its warranty budget at one-tenth of what such a warranty would have cost the company historically, but with its TSP teams, its costs have typically run well below that. While Softtek did make a few refunds, the customers liked the guarantees, and Softtek's competitors were unable to match them without losing money. To date, the guaranteed Softtek products have had so few defects that the company has decided to offer quality guarantees on a more regular basis.
With the TSP methods, the developers' quality of work life has greatly improved. Now, instead of suffering through all-nighters during final test, the developers can balance their workload and recover from schedule problems without impacting their projects. They are now home for dinner nearly every night, and they can take scheduled vacations without fear of unanticipated project crises.
This work-life improvement also has had important company benefits. For the TSP teams, turnover has decreased to one-quarter the turnover rate of non-TSP teams, and the company is better able to retain its most experienced and productive talent. This maintains team stability, saves recruiting costs, and improves the company's return on its personnel investment. With its improved corporate image and reputation, particularly among students, Softtek also finds it easier to recruit and retain the best engineering talent.