Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What’s the fastest way to get buy-in of new processes?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – just wanted to update you since my last question to “Ask the CMMI Appraiser.” You may recall that our SEPG took your Introduction to CMMI training last fall.  Now we are designing new processes. What’s the fastest way to get buy-in for these new processes, company-wide? ~ Ross O.

Hey, Ross – great to hear from you again! Helping people transform company culture with CMMI is an area of expertise of Laura Adkins, a Senior CMMI Consultant with Broadsword. Laura does amazing work with companies who are trying to institutionalize new processes within the Agile and CMMI frameworks. Take it away, Laura! ~ The CMMI Appraiser

Thanks, CMMI Appraiser!

Ross, since you’ve been to our CMMI trainings, you are familiar with Broadsword’s vision for using the CMMI to change the way your company behaves. The goal is to make this transition a positive experience, so that everyone buys in. One way to accelerate buy-in – or “institutionalize” – is with pilot testing.

Why does pilot testing accelerate buy-in? There are many reasons. The first reason is: everyone who participates in a pilot test becomes a champion.

Like the athletes in this picture, champions see the value of processes that work. They have been trained and mentored and can spread the word on why they love the new processes. This is important because, the more people you have supporting your new processes, the better. It’s how you create early buy-in.

Having the support and endorsement of champions means a lot. We’ve found that users are far more likely to try out a new process if they know it was pilot tested first. For example, a project manager who has used the new processes in pilot testing will spread the word to other project managers. And he will talk to his peers in a different manner from how the SEPG will be rolling the new processes out. He’ll say things like, “Hey, it really wasn’t that bad. It was easier than you think.” So having champions really helps disseminate the new processes and knowledge among others, in a way that they will trust.

The second reason pilot testing accelerates institutionalization is the simple fact that you’ve already trained people for the pilot. Not only are they ready for the new processes ahead of time, but you now have fewer people left to train. That helps accelerate adoption.

The third reason pilot testing gets everyone to buy in faster is that it decreases the risk of unintended consequences. Sometimes we make assumptions when we develop processes, assumptions about what types of projects are using the processes, or what will work. If you do this in a vacuum, where you haven’t solicited everyone’s feedback, you may be in for some unpleasant surprises. You don’t know what you don’t know, as they say.

Pilot testing helps you know. Use pilot testing to validate that you have made correct assumptions, and that the new processes will be a good fit for your organization.

That’s the best way to get buy-in quickly.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Laura Adkins is a Senior CMMI Consultant with Broadsword Solutions Corporation. She has years of real world experience using pilot testing strategies and tactics to help her clients achieve their goals. Laura also uses the CMMI, in partnership with her clients, to set-up, monitor, and sustain process improvement programs.

Visit for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

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