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How to Create & Sustain a Process Culture
Field experiences from implementing the Software Capability Maturity Model (SW-CMM) and People Capability Maturity Model (P-CMM) frameworks as a prime consultant in a couple of leading multinationals and in Intelligroup have been drawn upon to provide insights into how to create and sustain a successful process culture. While the primary objective of any business is to make money, in order to stay in business, certain value-added components such as Quality have to be realized. The essentials required for creating & sustaining a process culture without hurting productivity and cycle time are described in what follows.
While the question: “Do we need it?” with “it” referring to process improvements or quality improvements has ceased, what remains is doubts about the claims made by process improvement initiatives! Senior management, which is most concerned about business viability, suspects value addition from process improvement because they believe “it” will result in more work. Besides, they have to change first! Middle management is skeptical because they have to deal with the real life challenges of change to requirements under the influence of project and business pressures. At the operational level, process improvement initiatives are viewed with skepticism because the impact of change to status quo would be most perceived at this level. And the concerned people would have to invest time and effort in relearning and often unlearning old ways of doing things.
When process improvements are planned for say, the software development process, it is important to make sure that interacting processes also embark on process improvement initiatives. One such process requiring significant attention is the “People Process”. When organizations plan to embark on process improvement initiatives, it is very likely that they overlook the significance and importance of introducing meaningful improvements in their people process.
In order to enable improvements to the interrelationships, it is important to make sure that the processes define their expectations from interacting processes. Process improvement initiatives must then make sure that while fulfilling the requirements of a process maturity framework internal cohesion and mutual support requirement of interacting processes is facilitated.
Taking small but measured steps is useful in the beginning. A certain sense of repeatability of the improvement initiative and self-sustenance is obtained at a micro level on the pilots before large-scale implementations can be attempted.
Cost effectiveness can be derived from ensuring that improvement activities are not duplicated in the same cycle. All participating teams can be grouped together and collectively coached on process improvement activities during an implementation cycle – which can typically last for 9 months before a formal assessment.
since we got certified as an ISO 9001 compliant company in 1998, we have been on
the quest for continuous process improvement. Let me say this up front. We are
not in the game of chasing levels. Level 5! So what? Would be our question! Does
a CMM level 5 mean anything to us? Of course, it does. Provided there is value
addition to all concerned stakeholders at the end of each day. Our attempt has
been to build a self sustaining process improvement model based on concepts in
this article. We have adopted both the transition approach to change (do it
right) and the hammer approach (do it fast), when needed. Where in lies our
secret for bringing about rapid change in the corporation.
Our attempt is at building a rock-solid level 3 on the SW-CMM and lay the foundations for People-CMM level 3 by the turn of the millennium. We are also sensitive of our responsibility to educate the software community with our expertise in this area. Intelligroup would be in a position to provide value added consulting services beginning January 2000.
Ideas contained in this article have been put to practice with good results to measure up. Many advantages such as voluntary sponsorship, commitment to make process improvements work, cooperation among otherwise competing processes to share best practices and overall reduction in risks with significant cost advantages are reported to result.
Nandyal is a General Manager heading Corporate Research & Development at
Intelligroup Asia Pvt. Ltd He has held several positions ranging from software
engineer to senior manager in prestigious organizations worldwide such as
Motorola and NYNEX Science & Technology. He held several management
positions at LG Software Development Center (India) before joining Intelligroup
Asia Pvt. Ltd. He was also the driving force behind implementing a CMM Level 2
process infrastructure in one of the LG affiliates in South Korea in eleven
He can be
reached by email: email@example.com
and on the Internet, visit his URL at: http://members.tripod.com/~raghavn.
Intelligroup, Inc. is a global professional services firm that helps its clients improve their business performance by building and supporting innovative Internet-based solutions and enterprise applications. Visit Intelligroup on the Internet at http://www.intelligroup.com.
 ® Capability Maturity Model and CMM are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
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