Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How do we get accurate information on the success of our processes?

Dear CMMI Appraiser, we are a defense contractor providing command and control systems, information technology, intelligence, engineering and networking professionals worldwide. As we scale, ensuring the success of our processes before we implement them is critical. What method do you recommend? ~ Holland W.

Dear Holland, great question! We agree that organizations need to ensure the success of their processes before they implement them, in order to successfully scale. Allow me to pass your question along to Laura Adkins, a Senior CMMI Consultant with Broadsword, who does amazing work with companies who are piloting processes that are strengthened by the CMMI. Take it away, Laura! ~ The CMMI Appraiser

Thank you, CMMI Appraiser!

Holland, we recommend piloting as the method for testing your process to make sure you have it right before deploying it. Projects selected for testing as pilot projects serve as guinea pigs versus those projects that are not tested.

So, what makes a good pilot project? And what should be considered when you are looking to pilot your processes? We recommend that you look at the following aspects of projects that you will select for a pilot project: Size, Complexity, Risk, Project Schedule, and People.

Let’s address these individually:

SIZE: When selecting pilot projects, you will want different sizes – a large project and a small project. You should also consider different project types, such as an Agile team approach versus a Waterfall approach, in your selecting.

COMPLEXITY: You want to look at the level of project complexity, depending on what the process areas are. If the process areas that you are piloting relate to technology or requirements, you are probably going to want to pilot a project that will allow you to fully execute your processes on that particular phase of a project.

RISK: You need to be somewhat practical and avoid projects that have a tight timeframe or budget and therefore won’t have the resources to devote the extra time to piloting the processes. If you know that there are time or budget constraints up front, it’s better to find an alternative.

PROJECT SCHEDULE: When looking for projects to pilot, you need to be sure the project is in the right phase of its current schedule or lifecycle. For example, if a project is nearing close-down, and you are looking to pilot project planning processes, then it wouldn’t make sense to select that one. You need to anticipate what’s coming up, so you can pick wisely. As another example, if you are only pilot testing for 6 weeks, you need to make sure that the pilot project is in the right phase, or will be executing the processes you want to pilot during that six week period. It’s about looking ahead.

PEOPLE: You need to select the right people, those who are willing and open to learning the processes and spending time participating in the process pilot, which helps with overall feedback at the end.

Focus on these criteria, Holland, and you will be sure to select the projects to pilot that will give your organization the most meaningful data as you scale.

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 www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

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