Quality: The Core of Responsible Business
The Deloitte Responsible Business blog covers a variety of functional areas that go into responsible business: risk management, sustainability, enterprise resilience and cybersecurity, to name a few. As we observe World Quality Day, I’d like to address one element that cuts across all of these areas and is at the core of responsible business: Quality.
Deloitte has invested in building a culture of quality. Our brand is built on “Connecting trust, resilience and security for responsible business and success.” None of these is possible without quality – it is at the root of trust. And, quality has never been as important as it is now. With the world mired in a global pandemic, and organizations everywhere in various states of evolution and even upheaval, the ability to continue delivering consistent, high-quality output is core to maintaining the trust that our clients put in us as a strategic partner. Trust that we continue to follow diligent processes for developing advisory solutions. Trust that we deliver materials that are clear, coherent and valuable. And trust that, at the most basic level, we are committed to their enduring success.
COVID-19 Brings Quality Challenges
COVID-19 has introduced many complications that could impair our ability to deliver consistent quality. Obviously, work-from-home has removed most of us from our typical collaborative office environment. And our clients are experiencing new challenges that emerged without warning, literally overnight in some cases. This, in turn, has required that our practitioners adapt how they work, often collaborating with different parts of the Deloitte network to address client challenges.
All of this can strain normal quality processes, precisely at a time when clients need quality more than ever. Deloitte’s culture of quality, however, has effectively met this challenge through several adaptations, including:
· Adopting new teaming strategies that include more frequent touchpoints with each other.
· Developing more agile ways of working with clients. For example, transitioning from having periodic physical meetings, to more frequent virtual ones.
· Making a point to do frequent check-ins and reviews to make sure our teams are properly aligned. This formerly occurred naturally with the typical office environment, but now it must be done virtually, and there needs to be additional rigor applied to challenging inputs before they are incorporated into outputs for clients.
Maintaining Quality Moving Forward
This is no time to rest on our “quality laurels.” There remain numerous challenges to quality. For example, it is natural for people to feel “COVID fatigue” as we head into our eighth month of work-from-home life. In a profession that tends to attract gregarious people, the lack of actual (as opposed to virtual) human interaction on the job, the feeling of being “trapped” in the home office, and even the day-in and day-out strains of having to take protective measures to do even simple things outside of the home, all contribute to COVID fatigue.
Our corporate shared values hold part of the answer to overcoming this issue. One in particular, “Taking Care of Each Other,” means helping our colleagues through these difficult times – whether that involves covering for them during time off, or even just having more frequent check-ins to reinforce a feeling of connectedness. Beyond that, though, it’s incumbent on all of us to understand that quality is non-negotiable, and it does not happen by accident. Rather, it is a deliberate act, and one that must be ingrained in every participant in the Deloitte network.
As with all corporate culture, a culture of quality begins with leadership. Partners need to continue to be role models for quality and to drive that culture throughout our organization now and in the future. And, our Quality and Risk Management (QRM) teams across the network serve a similar function, providing consistent support in delivering quality-control for all our services irrespective of the challenges the pandemic puts in our way. Ultimately, though, quality is determined by everyone’s actions in the organization – it is a team effort and pervades our approach to everything we do. And, if we all apply quality standards to our work, and play an active role in reinforcing quality in our co-workers, the Deloitte reputation for quality will be stronger than ever when we (finally!) emerge from the pandemic.
Kirsty is the Global Risk and Reputation Leader for Risk Advisory as well as the Business Risk Leader for United Kingdom, Risk Advisory business. In both roles she is responsible for supporting the business identify and mitigate potential risks associated with engagements. She is also a senior Risk Advisory Partner in the UK Strategic, Regulatory and Operational Risk business which includes our internal audit, regulatory compliance, internal control and risk management practices across the Corporate and Public Sector industries. As an experienced compliance and internal controls partner, Kirsty has 25 years of experience leading the delivery of internal audit, compliance and internal control review and improvement assignments working with global organizations.
Austin is the deputy Global Risk and Reputation Leader for Risk Advisory and the Business Risk Leader for the North and South Europe, Risk Advisory business. In both roles he is responsible for proactively managing potential brand or reputation-damaging matters. He implemented the Global QRM maturity and capability program used globally that supports the development of the QRM function in each member firm. Austin supports Delivery Centers in the DTTL network to develop and implement operational quality and risk management procedures to serve member firm requests. In addition to his global role he is also a member of the NSE Risk Advisory and NSE Quality and Risk Services ExCos.
Olly is a Program manager within North and South Europe (NSE), Risk Advisory. He is responsible for the integration of the Quality and Risk Management (QRM) processes across the 27 countries that make up NSE. Olly has leveraged existing technology support the development of a global capability and maturity programme for Risk and Financial Advisory QRM teams. He remains linked to this global programme whilst also being part of the NSE Risk Advisory business support team as the member firm continues to mature. Olly was a British Army officer for 8 years prior to transitioning into professional services, where he was focused on IT controls improvement for Financial Services clients.