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Q 'n A from Ask SITARA on People CMM(R) 

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   SITARA has been asked several pertinent questions and some of them find a place here. Questions posed to SITARA & SITARA's responses to them will be posted from time to time. If you want to submit a question, please use the Ask SITARA Form.

QUESTION: I am a HR professional. I am interested to learn the PCMM modules & become independent consultant. Kindly advice on the entire process if any.
 - shailendra 


ANSWER: RN> The best way to start out as a consultant is to go through a model training course. Much of the People CMM is relevant only when applied along with a strong domain understanding since People CMM is more of model to improve organizational competencies. One could be a software engineering expert and apply the People CMM practices to the context of software engineering.

QUESTION: Dose a PCMM certification means an reward for existing HR pracices or for the organization initiatives for the better people policies? OR Else IS he PCMM certification is an end in itself?

ANSWER: RN> Depending upon the relevant process areas that an organization plans to adopt into its workforce practices, the response to the above question would vary. For sure PCMM is not a certification process or a mechanism to reward the HR for its practices. Adoption of People CMM practices would only indicate the maturity of the organizational practices to grow core competencies. People CMM is all about improving individuals-, the units-, the organizations- core competencies in a structured manner.
People CMM is not an end in itself but is a new beginning even after reaching a level 5 to continuously tread the path of revival and renewal. This is a direct measure therefore, of the organization's ability to learn and grow, while adapting to the changes that are always so dynamic.

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Are all PCMM level 5 cetified companies meeting the attributes of the Learning Organisation?

ANSWER: RN> They should! Otherwise there would a strong misinterpretation of competency orientation and competency based practices in such organizations.  


Added March 17, 2003 - Question from Sujatha.Das@Siemens.Com Q1, Q5. It is a well known fact that the HR Department can realize its value only when it is integrated into the business process. How can we integrate the concepts of PCMM with the Software CMM to increase the value of business? What has been the experiences? Could those participants who have undergone a pre-assessment or assessment process for PCMM levels 2 or above, share with us significant experiences and highlights for our guidance. We are ascertaining the key process strengths and improvement areas of our IT Ventures so as to be able to launch a major PCMM initiative among them. Your inputs at this juncture will be very valuable to our progress.

ANSWER: RN> Treating the People CMM as a HR framework is a fundamentally incorrect approach. People CMM has to be applied along with existing process improvement programs such as the Software CMM or the CMMI, more as an 'organizational development framework'. Practices prescribed within the People CMM, actually help to build organizational competencies. Needless to say that when process improvement programs are executed without evaluating their impact on business performance and business objectives ALL improvement initiatives will appear disconnected. When actually, such improvement initiatives have to be executed as an organizational core competency. It is only when the practices of the People CMM are enabled into the manifest process designs, can such a 'core competency' view of process improvements become established and highlighted.

Think of the People CMM as a basis to establish a framework for developing organizational competencies and the Software CMM as a framework that helps to build a software development strategy.

To start with: take the Intergroup Coordination KPA of the Software CMM and work the 'humanistic aspects' of the People CMM into the process design. Then extend the People CMM framework to accommodate the much required empowering aspects of process tailoring within ISM and integrate the interpersonal skill development aspects of the Training PA of the People CMM into the Training Program KPA of the Software CMM. These are the first steps to take ... and quite obviously there are many more!

With respect to assessing your process strengths and improvement opportunities: Asking yourself the following question may lead you to the answers- . Do you know enough about your core competencies that you can sustain it for now and in the future and are in a position to make money by selling on your competencies? And, how have you ensured that it can be done in both good times and in bad times?

Q2, Q4. People CMM is an organizational change model. For an organization attempting to implement this model, what is the best way to start a P-CMM improvement program in a systematic manner? What factors should we think about in workforce and other resources? What are the prerequisites?  How does one start the journey to PCMM?

ANSWER: RN> More than an organizational 'change' model, I look at People CMM as an 'organizational developmental framework'. The most obvious way to start the People CMM improvement program is to get 'excellent training' on what the model has to offer. Unfortunately there are no short cuts and the only field where training is always compromised is in the Information Technology. There is a paucity of good trainers and also a lack of depth.

Training on the People CMM, viewed more as a core competency in process change management using the Software CMM or CMMI is the most beneficial way to kick-off the People CMM movement in the organization. You must train at least 60% of the organizational workforce on the importance of developing a 'core competency' view at all times - then change itself becomes a rewarding process. MOST IMPORTANT: Don't ask -'what is the return on investment' until you have attained a Level 4 maturity! Of late, I have come to realize that this question is both distasteful and a very insipid one to ask - at least not until you reached a Level 4 status on the process maturity! Because neither the person asking this question nor the person giving a response knows enough about how to quantify the costs of development. It is very difficult to justify the RoI in software development where the cost of development is not something that can be subjected easily to break-even analysis. Unless it is a software product, you mostly develop system software once, and more for one time use only.

Think of asking the question on RoI and potential ways of exploiting reuse only when the process is mature beyond a Level 4. Why I say this can be best appreciated if I ask a question - "Is training a cost or investment?" Most of the costing models are cost based and therefore look at it as a cost. I look at it as a 'requirement' and an 'opportunity' without which the pre-requisites necessary for the change management program itself would not be met.

The journey obviously begins with the first step- training! Then understand how to interpret the framework giving your business constraints and circumstances. Obviously every organization has a list of unique characteristics that have to be solved within the local context - practices of the People CMM may not come in handy. The unwritten rules and value systems  that decide the games people play, have to be addressed using an entirely different yardstick.

Q3, Q6. Which areas in the P-CMM Model is a challenging area, where opportunities exists for doing research? The aim of the research is to be able to contribute for the society.  I am looking for models/framework for measurement of competency and skills. I am asking this question in the context of the P-CMM KPAs: Competency Analysis and Competency Development. Are there any experiences or published work in this area?

ANSWER: RN> Almost every theme in the People CMM has an immense research potential and an opportunity worth investigating. Within SITARA, we have conceived several proprietary models such as-

- SITARA 10W5D competency hierarchy model

- SITARA Domain-Competency Sandwich model

- Universal Excellence Framework, and

- Workforce competency development framework based on SITARA ODER paradigm for growing core competencies

in our interpreting the People CMM (please wait a little longer ... my book on Interpreting the People CMM, published by Tata McGraw-Hill is on its way!).

In a way, if every aspect of the society is conscious of growing competencies and understanding the power of leverage, I would be certain that the society as a whole will benefit. Addressing this much neglected opportunity is SITARA's commitment toward Global Best Practices. Please visit:

Q7. The version 1 of P-CMM had separate Key process Areas for Mentoring and Coaching at different levels. The version 2 talks of Mentoring only. Are the concepts of coaching in built into this KPA?

ANSWER: RN> Mentoring and coaching are designed to help in factors that build a high trust environment that promotes belief in oneself and oneís abilities. Mentoring and coaching are recognized as alternate management styles that rely on skills that create skills in others. Competencies that are necessary for an individualís personal development program toward building a high-trust environment are identified. They could include: Reliability, Openness, Acceptance, Congruence, Consistency, Competence, Character, Courage and so on. By making mentoring orient itself and take on specific focus of -competency development- whereby it is recognized as a skill that helps to build technical skills in others, in a sense, one can conclude that aspects of coaching are strengthened within the Mentoring aspects of the People CMM framework.

Added March 17, 2003 - Question from Sujatha.Das@Siemens.Com QUESTION:  To my understanding , the Workgroup development refers to forming a group of people to achieve certain activities which are interdependent. So all project groups come under this purview. There may be groups formed within a Strategic Business Unit apart from Project groups as well to do certain other activities.

 Now when we come to empowered workgroups, my understanding is that it is a similar workgroup except for the fact that there is a certain amount of responsibility and authority provided to the members to do the work and achieve its objectives. So the activities that an empowered workgroup does is mainly to do with either a recommendation on certain aspects or a decision-making activity.

Is my understanding correct?

ANSWER: RN> The primary objective behind both WGD and EWG process areas is to build workgroups and culture, irrespective of how you want to organize the workforce (SBUs or project groups). However what WGD and EWG address are two entirely different organizational 'issues'.

As to how the practices that support WGD and EWG should be grown within the organization is concerned; my belief is that WGD layers on top of Training and development practices whereas EWG grows on top of Staffing practices. My reasoning is as follows: practices behind WGD organize themselves and rally behind the development of organizational competencies. WGD 'may' complement EWG by supporting and envisioning an empowered work culture by leveraging value resulting from exploiting interdependence among competencies. And for this to happen, the organization must be a level 4 or above in maturity. In short: WGD practices help to 'grow organizational competencies'.

Whereas, the practices in EWG are required to offer organizational support which permits workgroups to determine what is needed by them to conduct their business activities in a manner that is best decided by them (people belonging to the workgroup). To this degree, EWG helps to 'tailor' all other PCMM practices like staffing, traning, compensation, competency development, etc., to make them applicable to the context that surrounds the project or the workgroup. Short answer: EWG makes all other PCMM practices 'relevant' to the project's context through effective use of tailoring.

Added January 26, 2002 - Question from   QUESTION:  Is PCMM to be looked at as a certification or does it provide guidance on how to enhance people practices?
ANSWER: RN> PCMM is most definitely NOT a certification process at all. People CMM is a framework which when effectively deployed determines the extent to which an organization is versatile in managing its core competencies. While building core competencies requires conscious effort and determination from an organization, the People CMM framework highlights practices that help to retain, grow and nurture competent individuals.

Added January 26, 2002 - Question from   QUESTION: Does a company have to be assessed for each level before being assessed for the next one or can it take two steps at a time!
ANSWER: RN> There is no rule that an organization has to progress one step at a
time. Our belief within SITARA Technologies is that "evolutionary change
happens only with revolutionary ideas". And, the only lasting representation of change in our opinion based on a number of years of in the trenches experience with change management is - slow and steady loses the race! Dynamism is best at work when aggressive targets are set and behavior change is "mandated". I read an interesting anecdote that tells it best - An industry which was planning to adopt a pension scheme put a proposal up in the organization for a consensus decision. Only when they had 100% consensus, they would move forward. Just one Johnny was totally opposed to it and so, the whole process came to a grinding halt much to chagrin of other individuals. The CEO called up Johnny and told him - "Here is the paper and here is the pen, sign it or you are fired!". Johnny immediately complied by signing his consent. When the CEO asked Johnny why he had not voluntarily done it. Johnny replied - "No body explained to me the consequences of NOT signing so clearly". So you see, consensus based "change management" will never work in practice. It is theoretically a nice thing to do. Champion of the People CMM program should decide how he is going to lead the team and where they want to be ... and the rest shall march ahead to reach that goal.

Added January 26, 2002 - Question from   QUESTION: What is the next logical step after achieving PCMM-5? Is PCMM self-actualization in terms of people practices?
ANSWER: RN> Most definitely not, is SITARA's opinion. Today's Indian IT needs much more than just these practices. There is a great void of management thought and leadership right at the top. Even today, most sponsors think that People CMM is "yet another HR framework that costs money". Little do they realize that it is a "core competency development model". To that degree the word People in the People CMM is a misnomer. It would have sold better had it been called Core Competency Model instead of People CMM.

Indian IT lacks both the depth and breadth of management and leadership
excellence. As a consequence the thing that is most relevant and important today, but is found lacking is loyalty and a sense of personal worth or self-esteem. And both loyalty and self-esteem are not something that People CMM addresses at all!

SITARA's Universal Excellence Framework (UEF) is a holistic framework that brings all of the missing links with Software CMM and People CMM together while taking a "systemic view" to improvement rather than a "process view" to improvement and change management. The UEF is then facilitated by SITARA's Global Best Practices which essentially is, if we are having problems managing software requirements and changes to them, then the place to look for a solution or a benchmark is an industry or a business entity such as the Domino's pizza which might have perfected the art of requirement's capture and requirements realization in the final product or delivery. Looking hard at the same problem long enough with same eye will not solve the problem!

Added January 26, 2002 - Question from   QUESTION:  Can one quantify the contribution of "adopting best people practices" to the bottom line.
ANSWER: RN> Of course, when done correctly there are both tangible and intangible benefits. The intrinsic worth - which is the true worth of a company goes up. The books of accounts may not capture this information, and this may not reflect in a Company's stock prices. It shows up as the several much wanted intangibles - pride in individuals, pride in their work, a high sense of self-esteem, courage and discipline, a value based and purposeful existence, and so on. What is significantly lacking is NOT best practices in organizations. It is an attitude to best practices that is lacking. SITARA's Universal Excellence Framework is all about "cultivating and nurturing this attitude" to best practices.

Added January 26, 2002 - Question from   QUESTION: How long does it take for an organization to evolve from Level 1 to 5?
ANSWER: RN> Anywhere between 1 year to 100 years! It all depends upon "from where is the motivation for change coming from?" Is it intrinsic or extrinsic? If it is intrinsic, how many of the people in the organization share the vision and value system?

Added January 26, 2002 - Question from   QUESTION: Is Personal competency development relate to work or other spheres of an individuals life which are likely to affect work?
ANSWER: RN> SITARA firmly belief's in what is attributed to Mahatma Gandhi - 'One cannot excel in one department of life, while the others are found wanting'. We believe that personal competency development operates fundamentally on multiple dimensions. It is NOT just how good a professional you are, it is also about how good a family person you are, how good a citizen you are, how good a human being you are and so on. Mind you, all of these are competencies. By goodness I mean, dependable. As Shiv Khera puts is so well- Ability without dependability is a liability. That to me sums up People CMM better than any thing else! Any organization can be a People CMM level 5 for just 5 minutes! Having just an ability to grow core competencies does NOT mean a thing until organizations have nurtured the abilities within individuals to be self directed and empowered to make the day-to-day changes that are so very necessary to keep the People CMM Level 5 at level 5 for more than just 5 minutes!

Added January 26, 2002 - Question from   QUESTION: Is there a similar process for non-IT companies
ANSWER: RN> The People CMM or the CMM is nothing but distilled common sense. And, the 6th sense that is bestowed disproportionately by Mother Nature is common sense! You can also think of these frameworks as a generic management paradigm that can be applied to both IT and non-IT companies to accomplish the same sense of business purpose.

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