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Within many European countries and the USA the tertiary sector, also known as the service industry now equates to up to two thirds of the nations' GDP and employment. While the Primary (Agricultural) and Secondary (Industrial) economic sectors deal with the delivery of "tangible" goods, the service sector wholly focuses on the marketing and selling of "intangible" goods to the general population and to businesses. (add a reference to back up)
The vessels that deliver the intangible products and are called service organisations and during our lives, many of us have received or encountered services provided by numerous public, commercial and not-for-profit service organisations. Examples of these service organisations are: Hospitals, schools, emergency services, shops, banks, charities and community groups.
Over the past decade increasing political stability, the interdependence of nations' economies and advances in the capability and reliability of information and communication technology has delivered the medium to connect people and countries worldwide. The pace, scope and scale of these advancements has delivered an international business world, which is now commonly known as the global marketplace. The emergence of a single world marketplace has empowered organisation who originally focused on delivering service to local markets, the ability to trade in the global economy, which is commonly known as economic globalisation.
Service delivery constantly demands the highest levels of performance and availability. Delivering a valued service to the customer or end user is pinnacle to each service organisations operation. Additional to this added pressure, most service organisations are constantly under increasing pressure to deliver and drive revenue growth, manage costs and be flexible to the ever-changing businesses needs in the environment they operate.
There is no question that the service sector plays an essential role in virtually every nation's economy at the MACRO level. It is critical that all services organisations trading in the local or global marketplace manage their operation well to support economic success and the development of growth.
This research paper provides a detailed analysis of Accenture plc, a Multinational Corporation that trades in the global marketplace and Technology Service Group Ltd (TSG), a service organisation with a more localised operational focus.
The analysis within this report focuses on the following areas:
The operating environment of the service organisations and the influences, demand and drivers that the organisations respond to;
the service concept that underpins their service operation;
the customers experience and their emotional and physical journey;
the service delivery system and the significant operations in both organisations;
other significant operations that the organisations undertake and their purpose;
significant quality issues for each organisation; and
the similarities and differences the organisations take to deliver their service product.
Accenture plc - Originally Accenture Consulting, Accenture plc. was established in 1989 as a technology consultant and systems integrator. With net revenues of US$21.5 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2010 and approximately 204,000 employees in more than 200 locations in 53 countries, Accenture is now one of the world's leading global management consulting, technology consulting and technology outsourcing companies.
With access to a myriad of global resources, world class skills and capabilities, coupled with a breadth of industry expertise, powerful network alliances and leading edge technology, Accenture serves clients across all major industries around the world - including 96 of the FORTUNE Global 100 and more than three quarters of the FORTUNE Global 500. Their industry focus and knowledge capital, developed through their extensive research and development has enabled Accenture to develop and deliver innovative solutions which have provided measurable value to over 1,000 organisations worldwide.
Technology Service Group Ltd (TSG) - Established in 2003 as an IT infrastructure, hardware and business software solutions provider. Technology Service Group Limited (TSG) is a relatively new organisation which is growing quickly through acquisition. With net revenues of £44.9 million for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009 and approximately 300 employees in 13 locations nationwide, from Southampton in the south, to Aberdeen in the north UK, TSG is becoming one of the UK's fastest growing IT companies, serving small to medium sized businesses
Through several alliances partnerships TSG pride themselves as being one of the UK's leading suppliers of business software such as Microsoft Dynamics, Sage and Pegasus. In October 2003 TSG acquired IT consultancy and support company Croft Technology plc. The acquisition represented TSG's commitment to becoming a leading UK-wide IT specialist, providing a 'one stop' shop for IT services to small to medium business clients, covering all of their IT, cabling and telecommunication requirements.
PESTLE analysis is a strategic model used to identify the Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental influences that may or may not impact an organisation. Assessing the impact of the external influences and their drivers assists organisations in the development and delivery of a strategic plan that will give the organisation a competitive edge over competitors in the marketplace.
Pestle Analysis - Accenture
Political - As a globally operating organisation, Accenture is subject to a breadth of political and economic policies, procedures and economic sanctions. To acknowledge the wide diversity of the laws within the countries where they operate, Accenture engages with the local governments to fully understand the policies enacted. This ensures that Accenture, its people and others acting on behalf of Accenture comply with and are aware of all applicable laws.
Economic - The continuing unstable global economic conditions affects the breadth of markets, businesses and the clients that Accenture serve. The uncertain economic conditions continue to influence Accenture's revenue growth and their profitability. One of the main causes for concern should be the unstable political and economic environment in Ireland and the impact that this will have on their European market. Additionally, Accenture is incorporated in Ireland and there have been recent talks of the EU and IMF forcing the Irish government to raise corporation tax. If this goes ahead, it could have a material adverse effect on the results of operations.
Social - The speed of population aging is increasing and people are living longer, staying healthier and much more active in later life. Assessing and understanding the impact of an ageing workforce will enable Accenture to diagnose the breadth of the problem and develop and implement a human capital management strategy that will address their business needs. People are Accenture's greatest assets and knowledge transfer and staff development is paramount to Accenture retaining key skills within key core business and their continuing success.
Technological - Technology is at the core of Accenture's business. Accenture's success is built around their extensive work in Research and Development and their ability to develop and deliver innovative service and solutions. Accenture needs to continue to research and innovate as anything they can do, can and will be copied.
Legal - Accenture and its employees are obliged to comply with all applicable laws throughout the world. Financial practices, competition law, export laws, workers' rights, patent and copyright laws are some of the factors that should be considered. What is legal in one country may not be in another. Accenture's commitment to consistent global standards ensures that local law is followed at all times. In the event of any conflict experienced between enacted local law and Accenture's code of business, they follow local law.
Environmental (reference the document) - Through their partnership with the United Nations Global Compact and following a study of ca. 1000 CEOs, business leaders, members of civil society and academic experts, Accenture fully understands that without sustainability the effectiveness of business operations will not deliver high business performance. Accenture now embeds sustainability into their strategy, business model, processes, systems and culture.
Pestle Analysis - TSG
Political - The resulting impact of the quango terminations carried out by the coalition government and the uncertainty of the remaining bodies mean project commitments between TSG and non-government organisation have been postponed and in some cases cancelled.
Economic - Because of the on-going economic uncertainty, TSG have experienced a cut in spending by local subsidiaries of International companies. Ficher Scientific, a world leader in serving science are an example of an organisation that has reduced their spending with TSG and focused on maintaining internal teams to deliver IT projects.
Social - Growth by acquisition has produced a misalignment in TSG's culture. TSG re-employing previous owners as senior managers have manufactured this. These managers have become financially independent through the acquisition, which has resulted in their commitment not being aligned with corporate goals and objectives.
Technological - Business can now lower their IT cost through technological changes such as software as a Service and internet based computing. Delivery of these new technologies affects TSGs hosting services and continues to erode their recurring revenue.
Legal - TSG has failed to win tenders as a result of including provisions in its response to tender to the effect that it will not take on 'employees' and will require and indemnity in the event that any transfer over.
Environmental - A growing concern for all organisations is sustainability. TSG have no strategy in place or plans to deliver this within their business model. Mr Rawes, TSG's regional director for Leeds commented, "sustainability is not perceived as an issue in our market place".
SWOT analysis is an important strategic tool that can be used to audit the key Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats within and outside the two organisations environments. According to (Assen et al.), SWOT analysis provides helpful information for matching resources and capabilities to the competitive environment in which the organisation operates.
Swot Analysis - Accenture
Strengths - As one of the marketing leading technology consulting organisations, Accenture operate globally with one common brand. They have a successful business model and have developed a strong reputation that installs confidence. Through their extensive research and the breadth of the industries they serve they have developed a deep understanding of business and technology trends. Access to resources globally and strong alliance partnerships provide a complete end-to-end service to their customers.
Weaknesses - The government contract work carried out by Accenture exposes their business to additional risk. They have a large number of clients that include national, provincial, state and local government entities. Because of the economic instability, governments are under increasing pressure to reduce cost. Governments may choose to reduce the price or terminate any projects that have been committed to Accenture, which would have a material effect on their profit margin.
Opportunity - Accenture has the opportunity to increase their profit margin through sensible strategic investment in their Sales and Marketing process. Additional to improving these core business processes, developing products and services for new emerging markets is key to driving Accenture's business forward.
Threats - The substitution of service and technologies from their competitors poses a significant threat to their business. However, Accenture's biggest threat is the economic uncertainty within their EMEA marketplace. Accenture reported in their 2010 annual accounts that growth within the EMEA marketplace had declined, which resulted in a decrease of 2% in net revenues. This was led by the decline of local currency in the United Kingdom, Spain, Switzerland, Ireland and Sweden.
Swot Analysis - TSG
Strengths - As one of the leading technology service organisations in the UK, TSG have developed a strong customer base. They have been successful in building comprehensive relationships with global software vendors such as Microsoft, Pegasus and SAGE. Through their aggressive acquisition and strong third party relationships they have a knowledge base that enables them to deliver end-to-end service delivery solutions to their clients.
Weaknesses - TSG's core business is built around delivering software solutions through extensive partnerships with global software vendors. The diversity of the software solutions available is a key strength for their business, however, specialising in readily available software solutions can be perceived as non-specialised.
Opportunity - TSG has an aggressive growth strategy built on acquisition. Through further acquisition of UK based technology consultants the company's expansion plans will provide them with the skills and capabilities to extend and develop their currently offered consultancy service product range.
Threats - Global software vendors such as Microsoft are now cutting out the 'middleman' from their service supply chain and contacting their customers direct. This poses a significant threat to TSG as their core business and strategy is built around delivering business software solutions to their customers.
Porters Five Forces
To identify the competition and attractiveness of a market, Michael Porter's five forces framework can be used to perform Industry analysis for both of the organisations. Porter's (1998) competitive analysis identified the five fundamental competitive forces that determine the relative attractiveness of an industry: new entrants, bargaining power of buyers, bargaining power of suppliers, substitute products or services and rivalry among existing competitor (Assen et al. n.d.).
Figure 5. Porters Five Forces
Porters Five Forces - Accenture
Threat of New Entrants: The technology consulting market is a highly competitive and lucrative market. Accenture is constantly competing against numerous companies, ranging from large multinational providers such as IBM and EDS to more established local competitors such as TSG Ltd. However, Accenture's long-standing history coupled with the highest level of industry and business process knowledge mitigates this threat.
Supplier Bargaining Power: Accenture recognises the value that the supplier brings in the delivery of its service product to its customers. Accenture uses a diverse network of supplier partnerships, which is built around their supplier development program.
Buyer Bargaining Power: The bargaining power of buyers poses a strong risk to Accenture. If Accenture is unable to differentiate its services and solutions, there services will be seen as commodities, with price being the driving factor in selecting a service provider.
Threat from Substitutes: The benefits received from delivering new innovative service products or new ways to reach customers are short lived. Over time, Accenture's competitors will copy their ideas and may even be more successful at selling similar services. As competing products are developed, customers will have more choice, which increases the threat of substitutes.
Rivalry: Accenture operates in a fiercely competitive market. They compete against a variety of businesses, which include large multinationals, niche solution or services providers and local competitors. However, they are one of the world's leading consulting, technology service and outsourcing organisations and their extensive Research and Development work sets the market standards and enables them to take the lead and direct their marketplace.
Porters Five Forces - TSG
Potential Entrants - The UK market is highly competitive and highly expensive to enter. The cost of the necessary accreditations, appropriate staff and skills make it very difficult for new companies to become established. However, established IT organisations with the funding to invest in a chosen specialist area pose the biggest risk.
Supplier Bargaining Power - TSG represents a very strong path to the UK market for its global software partners, which enables a strong bargaining point with their suppliers. Additionally, the use of a single hardware distributor for all ancillary products allows influence on price that individual spend would not justify.
Buyer Bargaining Power - Mr Rawes, TSG's regional director for Leeds commented, "No single customer represents more than 1% of our turnover. Exposure to buyer power poses a minimal risk as the exposure is spread across a breadth of disparate companies".
Threat from Substitutes - TSG's core business and strategy is built on delivering business software solutions to their customers. Removal of intermediaries by global software vendors poses the biggest risk to their business.
Rivalry - Because of the economic uncertainty, small to medium businesses look to improve business cost-efficiency by reducing cost. TSG's main competitors within their marketplace are geographically localised service providers who have the ability to leverage alternative services based on competitive pricing.
The service concept is a critical element in knowing and defining what the organisation is selling or providing and the customer buying or using. (Johnston and Clark, 2005). Customers buy service concepts and when designing a new service or redesigning an existing one it is critical that service organisations such as Accenture and TSG, understand the perception of their goods and services by their clients, the market in general and their employees.
Service Concept - Accenture
Organisation: Accenture plc
Organising Idea: Provide consultancy services that help companies leverage technology to deliver measurable improvements in performance
Service Concept (Summary): A global technology consulting company that provides a broad range of skills and competence to advise and assist companies on how best to align, optimize, transform and invest in Information Technology (IT), in line with their corporate aims and objectives.
Global access to a high level of skills and experience
Quick and easy access to service personnel and information systems
A consultancy service with a personal touch
End to end service delivery
Increased effectiveness of their business
Value through strategic clarity and direction
Focused systems and process analysis
Solutions to specific problems
Customer centric service delivery
Delivered to a standard policy and framework
Observe the highest levels of professional standards
24x7x365 access to resources
Service delivery in a timely manner
Expensive but worth it
All inclusive service
'Value-added' advisory work
Quality and value
Increased prospects in market sector
Service built on relationships
Service Concept - TSG
Organisation: TSG Ltd
Organising Idea: Provide consultancy services that help companies leverage technology to deliver measurable improvements in performance
Service Concept (Summary): A UK wide IT service organisation delivering uniform technology service, with a geographically local and on-site presence to small and medium businesses that is based around a best of bread product set.
One Stop Shop for IT services
Software solution tailored to individual business
Quick access to proven skill and competencies
Project management and coordination
IT governance and Industry best practice
Enabled knowledge workers
Informed strategic decision making
Software systems that fit the business
Consistent approach to all customers
Flexible service delivery
Make the best use of third party partnerships
Use of appropriately skilled resources
Strategy delivering long term success
Increased business effectiveness
Quality specialist advices
Strategic IT investment
An organisations service concept plays a key role in their service design and development. In order to ensure that a service achieves customer expectations it is important that organisations clearly identify all the key constituent parts that form the service, the outcome and the experience, including the physical environment in which the service process takes places, also known as the servicescape. Organisations will fail to meet customer expectations if there are mismatches between what the organisation intends to provide and the requirement or expectations of their customer.
The service concept acts as a 'service specification' and is also a starting point for the development of an operations strategy. (Johnston and Clark, 2005). The development and delivery of a service concept strategy that supports the basic structure of the service will ensure that the service experience is aligned with the organisation strategic intent. The following questions should be asked when developing a service strategy.
Where are we now (Position)
Where do we want to be (Vision)
How are we going to get there (Strategic plan)
Strategic planning is an iterative and continuous process, which involves taking three separate views:
Deliberate: Analysis using tools and methodologies such as SWOT, PESTLE and scenario planning to assess the current standing of the organisation and its plans for delivering services in the future.
Emergent: The use of experiential learning and benchmarking techniques, to compare internal processes and performance with those of competitors and other parts of the same organisation.
Adaptive: Analysis of the environment to identify current and future opportunities that are available to the business.
(A section need adding here that references the methods taken by Accenture and TSG)
For a strategic plan to work all of the key elements within the organisation, need to be aligned and support each other in the delivery of the service and its strategic goal. The five critical elements can be seen in figure (x).
The customer experience can be defined as the internal and subjective response customers have to any direct or indirect contact with a company. (Meyer and Schwager 2007). It is a mix of an organisations physical and informational environment and senses such as smell, taste, touch and sound that evoke customer emotions and create an experience that will be remembered and stands out.
To create and sustain a superior customer experience, organisations need to understand the customer's point of view and this involves considering and understanding the customers physical, rational and emotional interactions or 'moments of truth' (put Carlzon reference here) during the customer experience with the organisation.
The economic downturn has created the ideal opportunity for organisation to make disciplined improvements to their customer experience that differentiates their services from competitors and results in competitive advantage. Today, creating and sustaining an excellent customer experience is a central objective in Accenture's business strategy. Accenture's commitment to investing in their customer experience differentiates their business from that of their competitor and they currently use a best-in-class method and toolkit for customer experience. Using this approach helps Accenture create a strategy that is repeatable and sustainable across their organisation.
The Accenture Customer Experience Development Methodology
According to (Mr Rawes, of TSG), the organisation is focused on developing existing relationships and strengthening customer loyalty to turn their customers into advocates. People, both employees and existing customers are TSG's biggest asset and Mr Rawes believes they are key in leveraging corporate performance. Using Hackett's service profit chain we can see that employee satisfaction increases customer satisfaction and loyalty, which in turn drives profitability and revenue growth, supporting TSG's strategy.
The result from meeting or surpassing customer expectations is an indication of how successful organisations are in delivering their services to the marketplace. One of the root causes of a poor customer experience is the gap between the customer and suppliers perception of the service. Organisations can improve service quality by using quality tools and techniques such as Total Quality Management and SERVQUAL to explore and assess the key components of service quality and identify the gaps between customer expectations and their experience.
There are four types of typologies that organisations engaging service quality issues usually fall into.
Naturals: Organisations who have institutionalised service quality in early days and have service quality engrained in their corporate values. Accenture can be classified into the Naturals topology as they have implemented industry standard programs to achieve delivery excellence in all aspects of their business.
Aspirants: Organisations with strong ambitions to become service quality leaders in their marketplace. TSG can be classified into the Aspirations topology, as they are currently a UK market leader providing strong quality services.
Followers: Organizations, which are forced into providing service quality in order to compete in the market.
Laggards: Organisations that have developed poor service quality and have to work twice as hard as aspirants do.
The customer Journey is the process used to understand the typical touchpoints between the customer and the organisation and the emotions experienced by the customer before, during and after a transaction takes place.
Most customer experiences of the organisation normally occur prior to the transaction taking place. Customer expectations can be shaped by word-of-mouth from existing customers and through marketing and advertising campaigns.
The three main stages in the customer journey are:
Pre-transaction Transaction Post-transaction
Each touchpoint within the customer journey can be termed as the 'moment of truth' (reference info) and there are various methods of interaction that can take place between organisations and their customers. These being:
Throughout the service experience, human interaction can create emotions such as pleasure, frustration or disgust, which can have a negative or positive affect on the levels of customer satisfaction.
Organisations can use simple mapping techniques to map the end-to-end process their customers follow to understand how their services may be perceived and improve gaps in the customer experience. Mapping the journey analyses the following areas:
Customer process and the typical points of contact
The service 'messages' and emotions felt by the customer
The benefits from journey mapping are:
Quickly identify gaps for improvement and investment
Key learnings and training insight for customer facing teams
Helps communication problems and solutions effectively
1) Can I follow up issues?
2) Do I get support?
3) Will there be future review meetings
1) Will it be seamless?
2) Can it be delivered on time and in full?
3) Have I chosen the right provider
4) Right solution?
1) How do I pay?
3) Do I pay now or later?
4) Do I have budget available?
1) Is it value for money?
2) Am I getting quality?
Does it deliver requirement?
1) How long will this take?
2) Do they seem friendly?
3) What else will they try and sell?
1) Long frustrating telephone queues
2) I only want necessary information
3) Poor navigation and findability
1) Provide support details
2) Project closure meeting
3) Accept customer complaints and improve service
1) Dedicated resources
2) Project planning
3) Flexible delivery
4) Knowledge transfer to client
5) Regular progress reports
1) Streamlined process
2) Credit facilities
3) Flexibility of cash flow
1) Competitive pricing
2) Fit for purpose
3) Value for money solution
4) Flexible solution
5) Propose support agreement
1) Professional and friendly
2) Fully explain the service without preamble
3) Offer further services if relevant
1) Ensure maximum presence of front line staff
2) Quick response to electronic resquests
3) Provide feedback that is relevant to the requested service
1) Provide professional message
2) Pay for sponsored search links
3) Appealing design and ease of use
4) Clarity of data
Service Delivery System & Significant Operations
1) Accepting customr complaints and improveThe service delivery system can be defined as the end-to-end (pg 181 RC) processes, which link together to deliver the service to the customer. It includes all of the primary and secondary operational activities, decisions, roles and responsibilities carried out by the organisation to deliver service value to its customers. The primary aim of the interrelated processes is to create value that exceeds the costs of providing the service and increase profit.
To fully understand the service delivery systems, it is useful to model organisations as a chain of value-creating processes. Accenture and TSG can be split into discrete activities using Porters Value Chain to identify their supporting and primary activities of their service operation and identify their core competencies that drive competitive advantage.
Organisation: Accenture plc
Human Resource Management
Supply Chain Management
Product and Service Development
Research and Insight
Marketing and Sales
Accenture is renowned for delivering value through a combination of three factors: quality, service and price. Since its inception, the company has delivered innovation and service quality through its core consulting business. With its breadth of industry and business process expertise coupled with their research and development capabilities, the following strengths can be seen in their customer service delivery system.
Website Layout and Presence: Excellent website visibility through sponsored search links. The design, layout and the findability of the service offerings portrays a professional feel
Delivery model: Quality service delivery gained through access to highly skilled people and other resources from multiple global locations.
Employee Knowledge: Knowledge management can be defined as the creation, storage and collaborative sharing of employee information within the business environment. Through sharing and collaboration, an organisation's efficiency, productivity and profitability is enhanced. Supported by advanced Information Technology tools and methods (web URL: http://www.geemultimedia.com.au/glossary.asp [Accessed 14 Dec 2010]
Services Offering: Comprehensive and evolving industry and business specific service offerings
Research and Innovation: Strong research and development capabilities that Identify new business and technology trends that create innovative business solutions for their clients
Organisation: TSG Ltd
Human Resource Management
Marketing and Sales
Supply Chain Management
The following strengths can be seen in the customer service delivery system of TSG:
Website Layout and Presence: Average visibility when searching for technology consulting services. The design of the website portrays a professional feel; however the layout and the findability of their consultancy services are poor.
Delivery model: Quality service delivery gained through access to 150 trained professionals across 14 UK regional offices.
Employee Knowledge: Staff are continuously assessed and trained to provide the best customer services to their customers. High staff retention levels are experienced through a corporate reward programme.
Services Offering: The service offering is continuously evolving through strategic acquisition. Strong relationships with global software vendors such as Microsoft, Pegasus and SAGE help provide business software solutions for their clients.
Both organisations have developed an efficient service delivery system. However, there are improvements that can be addressed to further improve their system. Accenture continues to be a business leader and innovator in their marketplace. However, their business is bias towards delivering services to medium and large sized organisations, which portrays a message of being too expensive to potential small and medium sized organisations.
TSG are continuously lead by the marketplace, which poses a significant weakness in their business strategy. Investing time and money into research and development will assist the business in the exploration of new and emerging technologies that will differentiate them from the competitors and change their organisation from being a business follower to a business innovator. In addition, using the Porters Value Chain model above it is clear to see that formal quality management systems such as ISO 9000, Total Quality Management or Six Sigma need to be implemented across their organisation to further develop their business.
Other Significant Operations
Corporate Citizenship policy: (Sureshchandar et al) state that an organization cannot count only on financial performance to survive in this ever-changing scenario of global competition, but also has a responsibility to the society in which it exists. Accenture has now become a world leader in corporate citizenship and sustainable stewardship. Over the preceding 10 years, the organisation has taken significant steps forward and focused its time, effort and funding to its commitment to addressing global and local social issues such as the environment and education.
The organisation has a commitment to making a significant and sustainable impact on the economic welfare of individuals. Through the Accenture Foundation, their giving programme provides grants to charities and other non-profit organisation, both locally and globally. Fundamental to their corporate citizenship efforts is the development and nurturing of talent, which is visible through a globally run initiative called 'Skills to Succeed'. The initiative aims to educate people and build skills that enable them to gain employment and contribute to the economy.
"We are committed to being a good corporate citizen-dedicated to minimizing our environmental impact and helping individuals around the world build skills that enable them to participate in and contribute to the economy." (Corporate Citizenship Report 2008-2009 - insert link)
Sustainability Policy: Accenture fosters environmental responsibility among their key stakeholders, including suppliers, clients and employees. The organisation is actively reducing their carbon emissions and their commitment to embedding sustainability using Innovative technologies continues to reduce Accenture's environmental footprint. These and other initiatives helped Accenture achieve global Accenture achieved ISO 14001 Environmental Management certification covering 53 locations around the world (http://newsroom.accenture.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=4825).
Supplier standards of conduct: A policy which sets the standards and practices to be followed and upheld by all Accenture suppliers.
Code of Business Ethics: Employee standard and practices to be followed and upheld by all Accenture employees and contractors.
Corporate Responsibility: TSG take their corporate responsibilities seriously and employee staff whose responsibilities are wholly focused on raising funding for local communities and charities. Additionally, the organisation recognises it has a social and legal obligation with respect to employing, promoting or training disabled persons where the duties can be safely and effectively carried out.
Environmental Policy: TSG organisation is built around their environmental policy, which continues to be developed by their staff and sanctioned by senior management. Like Accenture, TSG understands the importance of sustainability and continues to commit to reducing their carbon footprint through initiatives such as cycle to work schemes, energy saving hardware and reduced travel with use of innovative technology.
"Quality" in a service organisation is a measure of the extent to which the service delivery method meets the customer's expectation. Ghobadian et al. (1993). Taking a customer centric approach enables organisations to understand what customers expect from their service and delivering it to match their needs 'fitness for purpose'.
Through the use of gap analysis models, organisations can improve their overall performance by identify key service quality factors perceived by the customers and any potential quality failings. A gap analysis model suggested by Parasuraman et al. can be seen in Figure (x).
Source: Parasuraman et al. (1986)
The model above shows the interaction of activities in a service organisation that can influence the customer's perception of quality. The gaps are described below:
Gap 1: Lack of market or customer focus.
Gap 2: Inability to translate customer expectations into quality specifications.
Gap 3: Performance variability of customer facing staff
Gap 4: Incorrect marketing and promotion of service quality
Gap 5: Customer perception of service quality, resulting from the aggregate of the customers prior expectations of the service, the service delivery process and the outcomes for the customer.
Using gap analysis tools assist organisations in the:
Identification of factors that affect quality;
Identification of potential quality problems;
Identify root causes of observed quality issues;
Remediation using improvement programs.
Customer satisfaction surveys, such as SERVQUAL, which was developed by Parasuraman et al's can be used by organisations for qualitatively exploring and assessing the customer's perceptions of service quality and measuring the gap between customer expectation and experience. SERVQUAL focuses on the five aspects of service quality affected by human interaction and the serviscape, the physical facilities of a service company. (Reimer and Kuhen, 2004).
For both organisations, delivering excellent service quality is the key ingredient to winning and keeping customers and differentiating themselves from their competitors. Quality conforms to customer expectation and customer expectations are constantly rising. This makes quality planning, control, assurance and improvement a necessity for all organisations who want to build confidence in their service, brand or organisation.
The key steps to delivering service quality are:
Identify customer expectations
Develop quality strategy
Organisations can use quality management approaches such as Total Quality Management (TQM) to achieve and attain the highest standards of quality. TQM is a comprehensive approach to improving competitiveness and flexibility through planning, organizing and understanding each activity, and involving each individual at each level (Oakland, 1993 p 40). Quality management systems are applied and interact with all the processes within an organisation starting with the identification of customer requirements and ending with customer satisfaction. Standard such as the ISO 9001:2008 can be used to define, establish and maintain an effective quality management system that:
Controls business processes
Controls output; and
Delivers customer satisfaction
Following implementation, the quality management system should follow Deming's cycle of continuous improvement - PLAN DO CHECK ACT. Figure (x) below shows the structure of the ISO 9001 standard and the integration of the four key organisational areas.
Image sourced from (http://www.iso9001implementationdocuments.info/ (Accessed: 18 December 2010)
Both organisations provide business-to-business technology consulting services, which results in similar quality issues. Using Ishikawa's fishbone diagram we can record the inputs and identify the causes that affect service quality.
Accenture adopt a strategic approach to service quality management and they subscribe to numerous standards, such as:
Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)
People Capability Maturity Model (People CMM),
Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
eSourcing Capability Model for Service Providers (eSCM-SP)
Lean Six Sigma
Accenture states that the choice of standards is guided by business norms in particular geographic locations, client needs, and Accenture's continuing programs to achieve delivery excellence in all aspects of our business. (Accenture, 2010 - http://www.accenture.com/Global/Services/Global_Delivery_and_Sourcing/AccentureCertifications.htm [Accessed: 18 December 2010]
TSG's approach to service quality is non-existent. The organisation does conduct client satisfaction programmes that include surveys and the use of CRM aimed at retaining customers. They also reward their employees to retain them. However, there are no visible standards shown on their website to suggest that they follow any standards to guide q codes of conduct for service quality. This is a significant failing in their corporate strategy and poses a significant risk to the on-going business.
To be able to demonstrate that it has quality management systems in place when tendering for business. Implementing standards will provide a solid foundation and baseline aimed at improving the rigour of and streamling core internal processes.
Similarities and Differences
The organising idea of the two organisations are the same; provide technology services that help their clients sustain operational effectiveness and efficiency, that delivers value for their customers and shareholders. Below are comparison tables that outline the similarities and differences of the two organisations.
Both are successful business-to-business service organisations who provider their customer's with end-to-end solutions to their problems.
The nature of their service process deals with a variety of Runners (PC support), Repeaters (business technology assessments) and Strangers (bespoke one-off solutions). Their process styles are that of a capability process focused on providing tailored solutions for their customers as opposed to a fixed prepared service delivered through a commodity process. (Johnston and Clark, pp 185 - 189)
Both have the ability to deliver flexible solutions to their customers that are tailored to their specific needs. Additionally, they both provide a range of application and infrastructure services and solutions.
Both organisations continue to pursue tactical acquisitions to expand their capabilities and develop new services and solutions.
Both operate in a highly competitive marketplace and compete with a myriad of organizations that offer services competitive with those they offer.
The uncertainty of the economy continues to be a challenge for both organisations. Economic conditions affect their clients and the markets they serve, which has a negative effect on their revenue growth and profitability.
Both organisations have strong alliances with software vendors whose capabilities complement their business and enhance the service offering.
Staff Retention and Recruitment
Both organisations understand their success is largely dependent on their ability to keep their supply of skills and resources in balance with demand. With this in mind, they both run incentives that are used to retain and attract suitably experienced employees.
Both organisations have an unfocused operation that provides a wide service offering to a broad market. (Johnston and Clark. p57)
Corporate Social Responsibility
Through the skills to succeed programme, sustainability polices, financial giving and volunteering, Accenture builds corporate citizenship into its core values and business ethics. TSG actively raises money for local charities and communities.
Technology Services Group Ltd
Fortune 500/1000, medium sized companies, governments and government agencies.
Small and Medium sized businesses (SMEs), Household of the Queen (Royal Warrant)
Global - Management consulting, technology consulting and technology outsourcing services.
UK wide - Software and hardware reseller who provides ancillary consultancy services and solutions support.
Our "high performance business" strategy builds on our expertise in consulting, technology and outsourcing to help clients perform at higher levels so they can create sustainable value for their customers, stakeholders and shareholders (Accenture company accounts).
UK-wide IT service delivery to SMEs based around a "best of breed" product set (TSG company accounts)
Operating Model and Resources
Global delivery model with access to approximately 204,000 employees.
UK-wide delivery model with access to approximately 300 employees.
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Customer Perceptions Of Service Quality
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