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Overview

“This book hits the mark for three important issues:

  • How to keep focused on real improvements
  • How to develop an implementable improvement plan
  • How to develop meaningful and useful measurements

I will definitely recommend it to my clients who are just beginning or are having trouble with their improvement program.
—Norman Hammock, SEI Authorized Lead Assessor

“At last a common sense and business-oriented approach to process improvement. This book gives very practical instruction that is easy to apply. Your people will thank you for it.”
—Nancy K. M. Rees, Vice President and Chief Engineer, Xerox Corporation

“...gets right to the heart of process improvement with specific, concrete steps and excellent examples. It’s a book you can use today.”
—Dennis J. Frailey, Principal Fellow, Raytheon Company

“Too many organizations develop a checklist mentality targeted at achieving the next process maturity level or passing an audit...Neil and Mary remind us to focus on pragmatic mechanisms for achieving superior business results...”
—Karl Wiegers, Principal Consultant, Process Impact

Software process improvement too often reflects a significant disconnect between theory and practice. This book bridges the gap—offering a straightforward, systematic approach to planning, implementing, and monitoring a process improvement program. Project managers will appreciate the book’s concise presentation style and will be able to apply its practical ideas immediately to real-life challenges.

With examples based on the authors’ own extensive experience, this book shows how to define goals that directly address the needs of your organization, use improvement models appropriately, and devise a pragmatic action plan. In addition, it reveals valuable strategies for deploying organizational change, and delineates essential metrics for tracking your progress. Appendices provide examples of an action plan, a risk management plan, and a mini-assessment process.

You will learn how to:

  • Scope and develop an improvement plan
  • Identify and prioritize risks and mitigate anticipated difficulties
  • Derive metrics that accurately measure progress toward business goals
  • Sell your improvement program in-house
  • Initially target practitioners and projects most-open to new approaches and techniques
  • Stay focused on goals and problems
  • Align the actions of managers and practitioners
  • Delay major policy documents and edicts until solutions have been practiced and tested
  • Use existing resources to speed deployment
  • Incorporate improvement models, such as SEI CMM® and CMMISM, into your improvement program

For those managers who are tired of chronic project difficulties, constant new improvement schemes, and a lack of real progress, this easily digestible volume provides the real-world wisdom you need to realize positive change in your organization.

0201775778B02262002

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201775778
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 4/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 169
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.17 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil Potter is a co-founder of The Process Group, a company that consults in software engineering process improvement. He has been working in software development, software engineering, and process and project management since 1985. He is an SEI-authorized Lead Assessor.

Mary Sakry is a co-founder of The Process Group, a company that consults in software engineering process improvement. She has been working in software development, software engineering, and process and project management since 1976. She is an SEI-authorized Lead Assessor.

0201775778AB02262002

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Read an Excerpt

WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK

You are probably more than aware of the problems facing your software development organization. The list of problems usually starts with an overwhelming string of commitments and optimistic deadlines. For example, the marketing department has been promised that the product will be shipped by the end of the year. Customers have been told that everything will be delivered on time, and top management has established year-end bonuses based on meeting these dates. Now the programmers are working progressively longer hours, and the system test group is anxiously awaiting the software to begin intensive testing. The technical writers are lost in 300 pull-down menus and cannot get feedback from the programmers. Meanwhile, support engineers are still fixing defects from the previous release and are not optimistic that their lives will improve any time soon.

On top of all this, your group has been signed up to use the new standards and processes developed by corporate engineering. At best, this sounds like just another documentation exercise with little or no positive impact on your group. You have been through numerous improvement programs, each one consuming time, but not providing you with the gains for which you had hoped. The benefits you did see were quickly forgotten in subsequent projects.

Sound familiar? If you have lived in an organization like this for a year or two, you are probably a little tired of the chronic problems, new improvement schemes, and lack of real progress. If you are ready for a straightforward, systematic approach to improvement, read on.

This book is for managers and practitioners. If you are the director of a division,read the book to understand how your group can systematically improve and tie those improvements directly to your business goals. If you are a project or program manager tasked with developing a specific product, use the information to plan, deploy, and track improvements within your team. If you are a process improvement, quality management, or development engineer, apply the techniques in each chapter to coach your team through its improvement journey.HOW THIS BOOK IS ORGANIZED

Throughout this book we guide you in achieving better organizational results. You will understand the critical steps needed to implement lasting and worthwhile change. The book will stimulate your thinking about

  • How software development organizations improve
  • What they improve
  • How they deploy and track improvements

Making Process Improvement Work is based on our work with more than 3,000 software professionals representing some 100 companies around the world. We have included stories and examples from individuals in these companies who are using our ideas as they travel on their road to improvement. We have seen what works and what does not.

The book is small and concise so that you can quickly absorb and use the information. It is organized into three chapters using the concepts of the Shewhart cycle for planning and managing improvement Deming86.Developing a Plan

In Chapter 1 you will develop an improvement action plan based on the business goals and problems of your organization. This approach addresses the frustration that many people experience when improvement programs do not relate to the project work being done. In this chapter you'll learn about

  • Setting compelling goals for your improvement program
  • Directing all improvement towards achieving business goals and solving the organization's problems
  • Developing an action plan based on the defined goals and problems
  • Using an improvement model or standard to address the goals and problems
  • Deriving metrics for the goals
  • Identifying potential future problems (risks) with the action plan and mitigating the highest priority risksImplementing the Plan

Chapter 2 describes techniques for deploying new practices across the organization. These techniques address the problems of resistance, unwieldy solutions, and slow deployment. The central themes in this chapter are

  • Applying selling strategies to deploy new practices
  • Increasing the speed of deployment by working with the willing and the needy first
  • Reducing the risk of failure by building and deploying solutions in increments
  • Delaying policy document creation and edicts until each solution has been practiced and is well tested
  • Using existing resources to increase the speed of deploymentChecking Progress

Chapter 3 presents techniques for checking the progress of your improvement program and taking corrective actions based on what you learn. Checking progress is an essential activity to provide the organization with feedback when pursuing business goals and solving problems. The resulting data allows for early problem detection, early correction, and improved visibility to management on improvement progress. In this chapter you'll explore methods for

  • Using metrics to track progress based on defined goals
  • Determining corrective actions needed to get the improvement program back on track
  • Clarifying lessons learned and actions needed to make future executions of the improvement cycle more effective

As you read the book, you will be referred to the appendices that provide additional details for the examples given in each of the chapters.

Appendices A and B are examples referenced in Chapter 1 where practices in the CMM and CMMI frameworks are mapped to business goals and project problems. Appendix C contains a full example of an improvement action plan. Appendix D expands upon the risk management plan example started in Chapter 1. Appendix E summarizes the two maturity models used in the book, that is, the CMM (1.1) and CMMI (1.1). Appendix F provides a complete definition of the mini-assessment process described in Chapter 3, a technique used to track improvement progress.Using Improvement Models and Standards

Several improvement models and standards exist that can save you much time, such as the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI),¹ SPICE, BOOTSTRAP, and ISO9001.³ In each of the chapters we reference a model or standard as a framework. These documents incorporate lessons learned from numerous people worldwide who have studied and implemented improvement. If you use them wisely, you can significantly improve your success rate. If you use them academically, you can waste much time. In this book, we show how to integrate these resources with your improvement program.

The examples in the book include the SEI CMM and CMMI frameworks. If you are using another model or standard, such as SPICE, BOOTSTRAP, or ISO9001, substitute it where we refer to the CMM. If you are not using any model or standard, the techniques described in the book will help you develop your own improvement actions to address your organization's issues.

1. See Appendix E for summaries of the SEI, CMM v1.1, and CMMI v1.1.
2. See Zahran98 for summaries of SPICE, BOOTSTRAP, and ISO9001.

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Table of Contents

Foreword vii

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xv

Chapter 1: Developing a Plan 1

Scope the Improvement 4

Develop an Action Plan 23

Determine Risks and Plan to Mitigate 38

Summary 49

Chapter 2: Implementing the Plan 51

Sell Solutions Based on Needs 52

Work with the Willing and Needy First 57

Keep Focused on the Goals and Problems 71

Align the Behaviors of Managers and Practitioners 73

Summary 75

Chapter 3: Checking Progress 77

Are We Making Progress on the Goals? 78

Are We Making Progress on Our Improvement Plan? 87

Are We Making Progress on the Improvement Framework? 88

What Lessons Have We Learned So Far? 101

Summary 113

Conclusion 115

Appendix A: Mapping Goals and Problems to CMM 117

Appendix B: Mapping Goals and Problems to CMM and CMMI 125

Appendix C: Action Plan Example 133

Appendix D: Risk Management Example 139

Appendix E: Mini-Assessment Process 145

References 157

Index 161

Read More Show Less

Preface

WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK

You are probably more than aware of the problems facing your software development organization. The list of problems usually starts with an overwhelming string of commitments and optimistic deadlines. For example, the marketing department has been promised that the product will be shipped by the end of the year. Customers have been told that everything will be delivered on time, and top management has established year-end bonuses based on meeting these dates. Now the programmers are working progressively longer hours, and the system test group is anxiously awaiting the software to begin intensive testing. The technical writers are lost in 300 pull-down menus and cannot get feedback from the programmers. Meanwhile, support engineers are still fixing defects from the previous release and are not optimistic that their lives will improve any time soon.

On top of all this, your group has been signed up to use the new standards and processes developed by corporate engineering. At best, this sounds like just another documentation exercise with little or no positive impact on your group. You have been through numerous improvement programs, each one consuming time, but not providing you with the gains for which you had hoped. The benefits you did see were quickly forgotten in subsequent projects.

Sound familiar? If you have lived in an organization like this for a year or two, you are probably a little tired of the chronic problems, new improvement schemes, and lack of real progress. If you are ready for a straightforward, systematic approach to improvement, read on.

This book is for managers and practitioners. If you are the director of a division, read the book to understand how your group can systematically improve and tie those improvements directly to your business goals. If you are a project or program manager tasked with developing a specific product, use the information to plan, deploy, and track improvements within your team. If you are a process improvement, quality management, or development engineer, apply the techniques in each chapter to coach your team through its improvement journey.

HOW THIS BOOK IS ORGANIZED

Throughout this book we guide you in achieving better organizational results. You will understand the critical steps needed to implement lasting and worthwhile change. The book will stimulate your thinking about

  • How software development organizations improve
  • What they improve
  • How they deploy and track improvements

Making Process Improvement Work is based on our work with more than 3,000 software professionals representing some 100 companies around the world. We have included stories and examples from individuals in these companies who are using our ideas as they travel on their road to improvement. We have seen what works and what does not.

The book is small and concise so that you can quickly absorb and use the information. It is organized into three chapters using the concepts of the Shewhart cycle for planning and managing improvement Deming86.

Developing a Plan

In Chapter 1 you will develop an improvement action plan based on the business goals and problems of your organization. This approach addresses the frustration that many people experience when improvement programs do not relate to the project work being done. In this chapter you’ll learn about

  • Setting compelling goals for your improvement program
  • Directing all improvement towards achieving business goals and solving the organization’s problems
  • Developing an action plan based on the defined goals and problems
  • Using an improvement model or standard to address the goals and problems
  • Deriving metrics for the goals
  • Identifying potential future problems (risks) with the action plan and mitigating the highest priority risks

Implementing the Plan

Chapter 2 describes techniques for deploying new practices across the organization. These techniques address the problems of resistance, unwieldy solutions, and slow deployment. The central themes in this chapter are

  • Applying selling strategies to deploy new practices
  • Increasing the speed of deployment by working with the willing and the needy first
  • Reducing the risk of failure by building and deploying solutions in increments
  • Delaying policy document creation and edicts until each solution has been practiced and is well tested
  • Using existing resources to increase the speed of deployment

Checking Progress

Chapter 3 presents techniques for checking the progress of your improvement program and taking corrective actions based on what you learn. Checking progress is an essential activity to provide the organization with feedback when pursuing business goals and solving problems. The resulting data allows for early problem detection, early correction, and improved visibility to management on improvement progress. In this chapter you’ll explore methods for

  • Using metrics to track progress based on defined goals
  • Determining corrective actions needed to get the improvement program back on track
  • Clarifying lessons learned and actions needed to make future executions of the improvement cycle more effective

As you read the book, you will be referred to the appendices that provide additional details for the examples given in each of the chapters.

Appendices A and B are examples referenced in Chapter 1 where practices in the CMM and CMMI frameworks are mapped to business goals and project problems. Appendix C contains a full example of an improvement action plan. Appendix D expands upon the risk management plan example started in Chapter 1. Appendix E summarizes the two maturity models used in the book, that is, the CMM (1.1) and CMMI (1.1). Appendix F provides a complete definition of the mini-assessment process described in Chapter 3, a technique used to track improvement progress.

Using Improvement Models and Standards

Several improvement models and standards exist that can save you much time, such as the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI),¹ SPICE, BOOTSTRAP, and ISO9001.³ In each of the chapters we reference a model or standard as a framework. These documents incorporate lessons learned from numerous people worldwide who have studied and implemented improvement. If you use them wisely, you can significantly improve your success rate. If you use them academically, you can waste much time. In this book, we show how to integrate these resources with your improvement program.

The examples in the book include the SEI CMM and CMMI frameworks. If you are using another model or standard, such as SPICE, BOOTSTRAP, or ISO9001, substitute it where we refer to the CMM. If you are not using any model or standard, the techniques described in the book will help you develop your own improvement actions to address your organization’s issues.

1. See Appendix E for summaries of the SEI, CMM v1.1, and CMMI v1.1.
2. See Zahran98 for summaries of SPICE, BOOTSTRAP, and ISO9001.

0201775778P03132002

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Introduction

Who should read this book?

You are probably more than aware of the problems facing your software development organization. The list of problems usually starts with an overwhelming string of commitments and optimistic deadlines. For example, the marketing department has been promised that the product will be shipped by the end of the year. Customers have been told that everything will be delivered on time, and top management has established year-end bonuses based on meeting these dates. Now the programmers are working progressively longer hours, and the system test group is anxiously awaiting the software in order to begin intensive testing. The technical writers are lost in 300 pull-down menus and cannot get feedback from the programmers. Meanwhile, support engineers are still fixing defects from the previous release and are not optimistic that their lives will improve any time soon.

On top of all this, your group has been signed up to use the new standards and processes developed by corporate engineering. At best, this sounds like just another documentation exercise with little or no positive impact on your group. You have been through numerous improvement programs, each one consuming time, but not providing you with the gains you had hoped for. The benefits you did see were quickly forgotten in subsequent projects.

Sound familiar? If you have lived in an organization like this for a year or two, you are probably a little tired of the chronic problems, new improvement schemes and lack of real progress. If you are ready for a straightforward, systematic approach to improvement, read on.

This book is for managers and practitioners. If you are the director ofa division, read the book to understand how your group can systematically improve and tie those improvements directly to your business goals. If you are a project or program manager tasked with developing a specific product, use the information to plan, deploy and track improvements within your team. If you are a process improvement, quality management or development engineer, apply the techniques in each chapter to coach your team through its improvement journey.


How this book is organized

Throughout this book, we will guide you in achieving better organizational results. You will understand the critical steps needed to implement lasting and worthwhile change. The book will stimulate your thinking about:

  • How software development organizations improve
  • What they improve
  • How they deploy and track improvements

The book is based on our work with more than 3,000 software professionals representing some 100 companies around the world. We have included stories and examples from individuals in these companies who are using our ideas as they travel on their road to improvement. We have seen what works and what does not.

The book is small and concise so that you can quickly absorb and use the information. It is organized into three chapters using the concepts of the Shewhart cycle for planning and managing improvement.

Developing a Plan
In Chapter 1, you will develop an improvement action plan based on the business goals and problems of your organization. This approach addresses the frustration that many people experience when improvement programs do not relate to the project work being done. In this chapter you’ll learn about:
  • Setting compelling goals for your improvement program.
  • Directing all improvement towards achieving business goals and solving the organization’s problems.
  • Developing an action plan based on the defined goals and problems.
  • Using an improvement model or standard to address the goals and problems.
  • Deriving metrics for the goals.
  • Identifying potential future problems (risks) with the action plan and mitigating the highest priority risks.

Implementing the Plan

Chapter 2 describes techniques for deploying new practices across the organization. These techniques address the problems of resistance, unwieldy solutions and slow deployment. The central themes in this chapter are:

  • Applying selling strategies to deploy new practices.
  • Increasing the speed of deployment by working with the willing and the needy first.
  • Reducing the risk of failure by building and deployingsolutions in increments.
  • Delaying policy document creation and edicts until each solution has been practiced and well tested.
  • Using existing resources to increase the speed of deployment.

Checking Progress

Chapter 3 presents techniques for checking the progress of your improvement program and taking corrective actions based on what you learn. Checking progress is an essential activity to provide the organization with feedback when pursuing business goals and solving problems. The resulting data allows for early problem detection, early correction and improved visibility to management on improvement progress. In this chapter you’ll explore methods for:

  • Using metrics to track progress based on defined goals.
  • Determining corrective actions needed to get the improvementprogram back on track.
  • Clarifying lessons learned and actions needed to make future executions of the improvement cycle more effective.

Using improvement models and standards
Several improvement models and standards exist that can save you much time, such as the SEI CMM and CMMI, SPICE, BOOTSTRAP and ISO9001 . In each of the chapters, we will reference a model or standard as a framework. These documents incorporate lessons learned from numerous people worldwide who have studied and implemented improvement. If you use them wisely, you can significantly improve your success rate. If you use them academically, you can waste much time. In this book, we will show how to integrate these resources with your improvement program.

The examples in the book include the SEI CMM and CMMI frameworks. If you are using another model or standard, such as SPICE, BOOTSTRAP or ISO9001, substitute it where we refer to the CMM. If you are not using any model or standard, the techniques described in the book will help you develop your own improvement actions to address your organization’s issues.



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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2003

    Concise, workable guide

    Most process improvement books are models describing what an ideal process would do. These books do not tell you how to get it done. Potter and Sakry have been helping companies do the work of transition for many years and have developed an excellent reputation. This book is a description of how a change agent should operate. If I had had this book when I started, it would have saved me three years of trial and error. If you are part of an SEPG or process improvement effort, buy it now.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2002

    Making Process Improvement Work: A Concise Action Guide for Software Managers and Practitioners

    I like the approach described in the book and only regret that we did not have this insight two years ago when we first started our software process improvement journey. We could have avoided many of the pitfalls. - - Tom Tougas, Harmon Industries, MO.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2002

    Making Process Improvement Work: A Concise Action Guide for Software Managers and Practitioners

    This book is a blessing in disguise! It is well written, has examples and templates that can be easily used - a great start point for many. It covers all the highlights from management support to culture. I also really like how the book works the problem set and identification of goals into positive, desired state nomenclature. By doing so it can actually propel folks into action. The language of the book is written so that even beginners in the SPI world can get immediate understanding of how to start/continue. - Barbara Marasco, Xerox.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2002

    Bravo!

    This is a book that provides real help with the ¿critical¿ issues in a process improvement program. The 4-step Risk management process is very ¿doable¿ and the discussion of the adoption and resistance issues is exactly what people on the process improvement journey need to know. The approach is extremely practical. I especially applaud the ¿don¿t force it¿ attitude with advice like ¿If there are no unmet needs, goals or problems to solve, then you should mutually agree that nothing will be done.¿

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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