Friday, February 2, 2007

What other kinds of reviews should we conduct on our process?

Dear Appraiser:

Besides the basic CMMI PA Compliance Reviews are there other techniques (review types) use to measure or ensure that processes are being adopted?

While I’m not sure what “CMMI PA Compliance Reviews” means exactly, there are many different techniques to plan for, deploy, and gauge adoption of process within your organization. Of these, the SPs associated with PPQA are only the most obvious.

The PPQA PA describes a couple of different options that address “functional” and “physical” audits of both the process and the work products, and there is also the concept of the “configuration audit” inside of the CM PA. For each of these, there are multiple interpretations and deployment methods you could explore to gauge adoption beyond just “compliance.”

Another category you may consider is monitoring the plan for adoption. It’s not possible for your entire community to adopt a process instantly, so planning for adoption is a wise choice. That schedule will depend on many factors, including organizational size, complexity, and culture, and the cyclomatic complexity of your process. Ultimately, you should probably consider multiple releases and iterations, where components of your process are rolled out to parts of your organization in a cyclical manner (sort of a cycle within a cycle).

You also may consider tying “project performance” metrics to “process performance” metrics. By this I mean, tag the segment of the population that you have deployed your process to, and determine how the project metrics (e.g.; defects, estimates, task metrics) are influenced by the process components that have been deployed (including training). I think you’ll find a very interesting correlation here that will help guide you in the further development, and deployment, of your process.

Don’t forget that process deployment occurs in two “meta-phases” – design and deployment being the first, and “Pointilized Equilibrium” being the second. This category combines “maintenance and support” with subtle spikes in increased functionality within the process over time. This is important because it changes your planning for resources. Not only will the metrics be different, but it will require (another) change in your process culture.

Best of luck to you.