The quality journey


In 1983, we had developed an application on a new platform for a German client. During its acceptance testing, Narayana Murthy noticed a single character error in the output and he called the client immediately and informed them about the error. The company was very impressed by our focus on quality, and our proactive and transparent approach that they accepted the application without going through the elaborate tests planned.

That incident sowed the seeds of our focus on quality in the company. Though Quality, as a function at Infosys was formally instituted in late 1992, it has been an integral part of our existence over the last 30 years.

I have had the privilege of being part of most of the quality journey at Infosys and the distinct honor of steering it for the past 19 years. I have had the good fortune of working with a team comprising the brightest minds in the industry such as, Dr. V. A. Sastry, Dr. Pankaj Jalote, S. Raghavan, M. R. Bhashyam and Satyendra Kumar. I am sharing the highlights of how our focus on quality has enabled us to earn the trust of our stakeholders.

In November 1992, the Quality function was instituted at Infosys under the leadership of Dr. V. A. Sastry in the backdrop of a booming business. At the time, we had around 25 active projects but we were aware that growth was around the corner. We had to lay a strong foundation with a formal structure for the implementation and measurement of quality. We also wanted to ensure that our focus on quality translated into business value for our clients. In the initial years, we took our first but firm steps on this journey when we got our ISO (with TickIT(1)) certification in 1993 which certified us on the strength of our basic processes. Our journey had begun in right earnest.

Over the next few years, we worked towards increasing the scope of our quality metrics by refining our software development lifecycle processes. Dr. Pankaj Jalote led our efforts during the CMM assessment. We were assessed at Level 4 in 1997 and this not only highlighted the strength of our business processes but also indicated that the organization was undergoing tangible changes in imbibing the quality culture.

This cultural change paid us rich dividends. In 1999, we touched the US$ 100 million revenue mark and also became the first Indian company to be listed on the NASDAQ. This success was duly complemented by the distinction of becoming the 21st company in the world to be accredited the CMM Level 5 standard for software development.

By then, we were entering a phase where business was poised to grow in leaps and bounds. This necessitated us to scale our Quality function to keep pace with the growing business complexity. This foresight drove Bhashyam and me to conduct a detailed evaluation of the certification standards available at the time. We adopted the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) model successfully in 2000 when our revenues touched US$ 200 million and with around 300 ongoing projects. The MBNQA is one of the most prestigious Total Quality Management models adopted by many industries.

After 2000, when Satyendra Kumar took over as the head of Quality and Sanjay Purohit joined him, the Quality function attained a new dimension. Today, the Quality function is pervasive across our services, units / enabler functions and geographies and plays a pivotal role in managing organizational risk.

The past decade led to the implementation of the Balanced Scorecard(2) framework that translated corporate strategies into measurable goals. As we added new lines of services such as BPO, Aerospace, Medical Devices and Telecom amongst others, our focus was on growing sustainably and reducing the impact of our operations on the environment.

This led us to implement domain-specific certification standards as and when new service lines were added. Some of the certifications include, eSCM-SP Level 5, AS 9100, ISO 13485, ISO 14001, OHSAS18001 and TL 9000. Recently, Infosys, as well as Infosys China, one of our fastest growing subsidiaries, have been assessed at CMMi Level 5.

Through quality, we have succeeded as an organization to set ourselves on the path of the continued pursuit of excellence with a constancy of purpose. In the process, we have earned the sustained trust of our stakeholders

One of the most significant developments in this decade was the creation of the Infosys Quality System, which documents and demystifies our quality management system through PRidE, our in-house, web-based, business process platform. Today, through our Business Value Articulation (BVA) initiative, we are connecting and articulating the business value that we add to our clients by continuously improving the quality of all our processes.

The Predictability, Profitability, Sustainability and Derisking (PSPD) model has been at the core of our business philosophy. In 1993, we had 25 projects, 750 employees, US$ 5 million in revenue and operated out of two offices in India and one international sales office in Boston.

Today, we have over 620 clients, 6,500 projects, 1,30,820 employees, US$ 6.04 billion in revenue, and operate out of 64 sales offices and 63 global development centers spread across 75 cities in 32 countries.

Despite the ever-increasing business complexity, our Quality function has sustained its reach across the organization and enabled us to deliver on the promises we make to our stakeholders, year after year.

The fact that we deliver 99% of our projects on time and 96% within budget, the fact that our repeat business has increased from around 87% in 2000 to over 97% today, and the fact that our Client Satisfaction Index went up even at the peak of the recession in 2009 are all testament to one fact – that quality has been the platform on which we have delivered predictable, profitable, sustainable and de-risked business value to our stakeholders.

The prestigious awards and recognitions that we have received along the way have made our journey even more heartening and memorable. The IEEE Computer Society and the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute awarded the 2010 Software Process Achievement Award and the award citation was a testimony to our commitment : "For establishing an extremely cost-effective, sustained, and culturally integrated quality and productivity improvement program during a period of extraordinary corporate growth". We were also awarded an entry to the Balanced Scorecard Hall of Fame in 2007 on the strength of our innovative strategy planning and execution capabilities.

When I look back, I realize that quality at Infosys is not just about governance, prerequisites or metrics. Through quality, we have succeeded as an organization to set ourselves on the path of the continued pursuit of excellence with a constancy of purpose. In the process, we have earned the sustained trust of our stakeholders – employees, clients, alliance partners, the industry, government and the society at large. This trust is an intangible, yet an invaluable asset and reflects the success of our quality journey over the past three decades. I strongly believe that it will continue to be at the core of our success in the years to come.


(1) TickIT is a quality certification program for software development,supported primarily by the software industries in the United Kingdom and Sweden.
(2) The Balanced Scorecard is a strategic planning and management system originated by Dr. Robert Kaplan and Dr. David Norton as a performance measurement framework that added strategic non-financial performance measures to traditional financial metrics to give managers and executives a more balanced view of organizational performance.