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The Official Baldrige Blog

PricewaterhouseCoopers U.S. Public Sector: A Milestone in its Quality Story


In 2014, PricewaterhouseCoopers Public Sector Practice (PwC PSP) became the first large service organization to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 15 years. But according to Scott McIntyre, managing partner and leader of PwC PSP, the nation's highest award for organizational excellence is just one milestone in the group's ongoing quality story.

In an interview on Federal News Radio, McIntyre said, “When you embark on a journey of quality like this, it doesn’t end with the award. It’s a great milestone, a terrific reprieve, and something we’re proud of, but it is certainly just a milestone along the journey of continuous quality."

And PwC PSP, a consulting and auditing firm for federal, state, and local governments, already has much to show for its journey:

  • one of the fastest growing consulting firms serving the federal government for the period 2011–2014,
  • scores rating it as “exceptional” or “very good” increasing from 50 percent in fiscal year 2008 to levels at or near 100 percent for fiscal years 2010 through 2014,
  • revenue results from $41 million in fiscal year 2005 to $265 million in fiscal year 2014, and
  •  staff certifications increasing 424 percent from fiscal year 2008 to fiscal year 2014.

McIntyre was asked why the group chose the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence as a model for improvement: “We wanted to build a business that served the U.S. federal government in a distinctive way, and one of the things that we thought would help us achieve that would to be very customer oriented, very agile, and very flexible. Adopting the Baldrige Criteria and building our business and our operations around those criteria has helped enable us to do that."

He said that adopting the Criteria really helped the group become more agile. He added, "the Criteria help you link your strategy, your human capital process, your leadership development process, and all of your core operations together and help them focus on what your customers actually want. The discipline forces you first and foremost to really learn and know what your customers, what your clients really value, and it forces you to drive your processes around adding value rather than adding layers of bureaucracy.”

The radio interview focused on the Baldrige Award process. Said McIntyre, “Candidly, having gone through the process, we’ve learned firsthand how disciplined you have to be to adopt these Criteria and how much of an impact they can have on your business.”

McIntyre described writing the Baldrige Award application as a "self-audit." It begins with writing the Organizational Profile, a comprehensive description of your industry, core values, organizational strategy, and operating model. The application then dives deeply into each of the seven areas of the Baldrige Criteria that are ultimately evaluated by the Baldrige examiners.

The Baldrige application gives you an opportunity to explore linkages among areas of your operations and how each adds value, he said; "You need to articulate in the application how each area is reinforced by and related to the other, how you continuously improve each one."

Top-scoring Baldrige applications are selected for site visits, where Baldrige examiners visit a company's operations. "They put you on the spot. And I think that’s a good thing," he said. "They put you on the spot to defend your business. They make you think hard about the business, and the process helps not only define the application and the claims that you are making in the application but makes you think through all the operating imperatives of the business as well."

The radio interview highlighted two elements of PwC PSP's operations—customer engagement and knowledge management—that were given high scores during the Baldrige Award process.

McIntyre defined customer engagement as first knowing what customers/clients want and then segmenting your market. The segmentation helps you know what services you are going to offer to which customers and how those services are going to add value.

“For us, customer engagement starts with knowledge of who the customer is, knowing what they want but also defining what we’re going to do for the customer that adds value and constantly measuring and analyzing that and occasionally changing it as we learn what the customers' needs really are," he said.

McIntyre also offered advice regarding metrics: start with and focus on a simple cohort of metrics and don't over analyze. He said the group is also constantly retraining and educating its people, helping them seek certifications, and ensuring they have a rich learning and development environment to continue their career growth.

Added McIntyre, "[Winning the Baldrige Award] is really an accolade to all of our people. It builds their credentials while they work at PwC or if they go on to other things. They are all part of a successful Baldrige application. They were all part of a quality journey, a quality story that is heavily endorsed by receipt of this award. We’re excited for them and what it means for their careers, what it means to their credibility in the market."

Learn more best practices from PwC PSP and from the other 2014 Baldrige Award recipients by attending the Baldrige Program’s next Quest for Excellence® Conference in April 2015.

About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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