Monday, February 12, 2007

What in the world is an SEPG?

Dear Appraiser,

Could you help me understand the concept of a Software Engineering Process Group (SEPG)

If I had a nickel for every . . . .

Every SEPG I have come in contact with has had a different approach and mission. Some of the flavors include:

- "working" SEPG's that actually develop and deploy process as a type of internal consulting team.

- "oversight" SEPG's that oversee the process architecture, approve it, manage changes, and prioritize it (sort of a process CCB)

- "deliberative" SEPG's that debate the process approach and develop strategy for a process architecture and deployment

- "virtual" SEPG's that are made up of representatives from throughout the organization that dedicate a certain amount of time to the effort and are responsible for deploying and training everyone else in the organization

. . . . and everything in-between.

My favorite is the "virtual" SEPG because it helps the entire organization feel ownership of the process, thereby bypassing the most difficult and hard to achieve step - acceptance. The real difficulty here is getting people to dedicate their time and to make them accountable. You're trading one challenge for another but the latter challenge is, in my humble opinion, easier to manage. Don't underestimate the difficulty in enterprise acceptance - it's by far (an order of magnitude) the most difficult to conquer and the primary reason why the failure rate is so high. Approach and themission of your SEPG (or whatever you call it) is very important to the success of your effort.

In terms of it being "required?" The model doesn't dictate anyrequirement for an SEPG. You can look to OPF, OPD, and OPP forguidance on the "mission" but, that said, there are more than 100ways to skin the cat, name the cat, and cook the cat and in the endthese are only guidelines.

OPF and OPD give you PARTIAL guidance in the responsibilities of the SEPG, but there is a lot more to deploying a successful process than is presented in those two process areas. An SEPG encompasses parts of ALL of the PA's (starting to sound like a project?).

One more thing, there is a concept in the Theory of Evolution called "Punctualized Equilibrium" that describes the evolutionary pattern of "sudden spikes" and plateau's within a species. Your SEPG will follow the same type of pattern - in the beginning it will probably have more oversight, more hands-on "design" work, and later on will probably want to focus more on "operational" types of issues. This may require you to re-structure your SEPG - maybe even change up some people. Either way, it's important that you plan for that up front.

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