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How to use Quality to develop and maintain long-term relationships with clients and staff

South American IT consultancy Hexacta uses best practices in the workplace, alongside state-of-the-art technologies, to ensure the highest standards of quality across more than 130 live projects.

Amid fierce competition, the software development and IT consulting company Hexacta reached the final of the Quality Organisation of the Year category at the CQI’s 2022 International Quality Awards (IQAs).

The organisation has been operating for more than 20 years, employing around 800 people at its development centres in Uruguay, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Peru and the US. At any one time, Hexacta staff are working on more than 130 projects for more than 75 clients.

Around 85% of its revenues are generated by near-shoring projects – a software development model by which specific tasks or projects are outsourced to a vendor in a nearby country – in the US.

Hexacta prides itself on developing and maintaining long-term relationships with its clients and staff, and has enviable attrition rates in an extremely competitive market.

Quality policy at the heart of success

Since it was founded, Hexacta has paid particular attention to the quality of its processes, with its Quality Policy developed and implemented from the beginning. The Methodology and Quality group was set up at the same time and comprises professionals with experience in software engineering, who provide support to projects to ensure appropriate quality practices are used during the development process. Members of this team also take care of the management system.

As part of its operational governance and quality assurance structures, the company has set up the Hexacta Architecture team, dedicated to supporting projects that face complex technical challenges. This ensures that the teams follow best development practices and avoid potential problems.

Hexacta has identified customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders as interested parties with a stake in the success of the company. More unusually, it has also identified the IT industry in Latin America as an interested party, with Hexacta’s ambition contributing to the global growth of this sector.

With this in mind, the company regularly collaborates with other companies that want to learn from its experiences. This commitment to the success of the regional IT sector is embedded within Hexacta’s Quality Policy, which includes some other unusual elements. For example, Hexacta engages with academic institutions to discover new knowledge and technologies that it can use to better serve clients. This also gives the organisation a valuable opportunity to feed back to academics on its experience of using new technologies.

Happy staff and satisfied customers

The main focus of the Quality Policy is on the link between happy staff and satisfied customers. This is hardly a new concept, but Hexacta has built this principle into everything it does. It is fundamental to ensuring customer satisfaction and to maintaining a low attrition rate in a sector notorious for extremely high attrition.

Hexacta is unusual in that 70% of its managers have worked there for more than 10 years. More than 60% of its managers joined as interns, juniors or mid-level employees, highlighting the strength of the organisation’s career planning process that accompanies people’s development. This longevity of service allows Hexacta’s culture to be transmitted through generations organically, with strong mentoring and leadership programmes key to this.

Each year, senior management defines the number of people necessary to deliver the business plan, considering different analyses and projections. The recruitment team then attracts the best talent according to these demands and assigns people to various projects according to client needs. This process is complemented by the People Care function, which is responsible for staff wellbeing and ensuring a suitable working environment.

Continual improvement

As part of its ongoing commitment to quality, Hexacta continually seeks improvements. Any that are identified are managed by the Organisational Improvement Group, which collaborates with the Methodology and Quality team in the proposal, analysis and resolution of improvements for the entire company.

The improvement contribution Hexacta expects from its employees is not limited to the development process, but can be about any system or process. Equally, improvement opportunities are not limited to suggestions from staff. Other mechanisms for obtaining ideas include the Hexacta Architecture team, the research and development group, end-of-project meetings, audits, feedback from clients, employee surveys, analysis of key performance indicators, and lessons learned reviews.

Every improvement opportunity is evaluated and analysed. If selected for implementation, resources are made available and results are monitored. This broad approach to continuous improvement is atypical in the IT sector in Latin America and is a key aspect of the differential value that Hexacta can provide to its stakeholders.

The IQA judges commented: “Hexacta’s application to the IQAs stood out as a great demonstration of what quality can achieve in this sector. The team spoke passionately about their business, and the culture and working environment is clearly enormously positive.

“Team members obviously work hard to support each other, while also working hard to ensure the business is performing well. This is something that is incredibly hard to achieve while maintaining strong results and not allowing complacency to seep in. When leaders have been there for a long time, those coming up from below could lack motivation, as their growth may be thought of as being limited. This is clearly not the case for the people at Hexacta, where there is a working environment which many of us would strive for, but few would have put in the commitment and resources to attain.”

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