Preparing for Process Improvement

These are a list of tips and hints for getting started with process improvement, whether you use CMMI or the People CMM.

Recruit an Executive Sponsor.

Successful process improvement programs have senior management sponsorship and funding. Such sponsorship and funding is critical to ensuring the program’s success. If you need to persuade senior management toward CMMI sponsorship, use the presentation CMMI Executive Overview as a starting place. A few other resources that may help you include the following:

Prepare the Organization for Change.

Treat process improvement as a project. Establish the business reasons and the business goals for the effort. Create a compelling case for change, including the rationale for the project and the expected benefits and costs for the people affected. Develop a persuasive presentation of the problems and opportunities. Here are a few other resources that may help you with members’ receptiveness to change:

Select a Model.

You may select a model or combination of models that fit your organization. Visit the CMMI Solutions pages to develop a better understanding of the guidance provided by the models and to become familiar with the process areas in each. All three CMMI models share many of the same core practices. The People CMM, used alone or with other models, improves your workforce’s ability to achieve any goal you set for them. The white paper Which CMMI Model Is for You? is a beginning point.

Select a Starting Point.

Unless your organization is very small, it makes sense to start with one or more projects or work groups and build your adoption in the organization from there. Sometimes it makes sense to select groups that are near the beginning of their lifecycle.

Select an Adoption Approach.

When considering the multiple ways to adopt CMMI in your organization, working with consultants can help you choose the best adoption approach for your organization and work with you along the way. Talk to CMMI users at SEPG conferences and in online community discussions to see what worked for them.

Establish a Process Infrastructure.

Typically, process improvement is treated like a project and is implemented by three main groups: the management steering committee, the process group, and the working groups. The groups in this process infrastructure work together to make process improvement happen.

Know Where You Are.

Compare your organization’s processes to CMMI goals and practices to determine where improvement is needed. Do a survey to gather data from managers, project or group leads, and individual workers to gauge cultural opportunities and barriers to change. Build a detailed picture of the present.

Know Where You Are Going.

Using the same format as the picture of where you are, create a picture of where you want to be. Base your process improvement objectives on your business objectives. Using Organizational Business Objectives to Guide a Process Improvement Program, a presentation by Steve Masters of the Software Engineering Institute, describes how business objectives drive effective process improvement.

Track Your Progress.

Compare the picture of where you are to the one of where you want to be. The difference between the two is the focus of your process improvement program. Create a periodic (e.g., monthly, weekly) report that demonstrates your program’s progress in reaching its (and the organization’s) goals. You can also have a certifiied lead appraiser conduct an appraisal, which will provide an objective evaluation of your organization using the SCAMPI method and a CMMI model. For more information about SCAMPI, see CMMI Appraisals.