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“Point me to the destination, plan a course, yet still must I find my way and only go where I may.” – Stephen Beneteau

The Care and Feeding of Process Assets – Getting Started

Equesense offers a subscription model for UNIVOLV services. Process improvement is a planned activity with a great deal of unplanned work. We have found it useful to be a partner in your process improvement endeavours. After an initial assessment, plan, and implementation of a process repository, we will work with you on a periodic basis to help facilitate the adoption of new tooling, and to deal with problems that arise out of unforeseen requirements. A service level agreement should be tailored to the needs of your organization. Contact Stephen at Equesense to arrange for a meeting.

Evolution

Evolution is all about success! Focus on replicating more and more successful variants of processes already working within your organization.

Why?

Your processes are integral to what you can achieve. Even if you are struggling as an organization, your people work the way they do because they perceive some value doing it. Documenting these processes in a (SPEM2) repository will allow your organization to build on processes to ultimately make your organization more successful.

Your successful processes could be well supported by management and tools. They could even survive the project so that they are replicated in other projects across your organization. Process assets are key inputs to all project management activities. Imagine how much simpler the job of project management would be in your organization where a great deal of planning could be accomplished through selecting components from a process library and filling in project specific details. Because your organization knows those processes work, initiatives can be carried out with more and more confidence.

People want to achieve, and too many justifiably complain about not having the freedom, tools, and timely information to effectively and efficiently do their jobs. Successful processes have intrinsic motivation. Giving management support to these demonstrates that you are listening and that you want to help.

Missteps

“We've been through this before.” – The more process improvement initiatives are introduced and fail, the more people are fatigued by them. This is a real risk to organizational development for your business.

Unfortunately, a great many process improvement initiatives fail to truly deliver the rich benefits that can be achieved. We've identified the following missteps that have led to the ultimate failure of process initiatives.

⋄ Gap analysis

Many organizations attempt to meet their business goals through process improvement that focuses on what is not working in their organization. This is gap analysis. Gap analysis is not evolutionary. Our primary objection to gap analysis is that it does not focus on success. It is risky and costly. It is very difficult to start up a new practice from scratch. Many factors go into how well this technique succeeds in realizing your business objectives.

⋄ Lack of process integration expertise and support

Many process improvement initiatives focus on prescriptive ways of carrying out a task. Lack of expertise and support in integration of new processes into existing processes will often just lead to extra work being done failing to provide value. Without understanding how the organization will feed and more importantly be served by the new practice, new activities become parallel to the existing activities and be perceived as a burden to the practitioners instead of a solution. These new processes are likely abandoned when the project is under stress.

Many courses available for software practitioners also focus on how to create a deliverable rather than how to use a deliverable produced by the practice. It is much more important to understand how the deliverable is used than it is to understand what goes into creating the deliverable. You might have the best use case writer in history, but if your team cannot consume a use case and doesn't know what to do with it, use cases are not going to work in your team no matter how great use cases are.

(Equesense offers a course called, Use Cases for Use Cases that focuses on how use cases benefit all the consumers of a use case for the project.)

⋄ Lack of motivation

Good processes are intrinsically motivating. If people do not derive satisfaction from this work, they will not persist in doing it when management is distracted by other priorities. Thankfully, team work and appreciation is inherent in good software development and processes that evolve out of the team dynamic.

How is UNIVOLV different?

Almost all process improvement products recommend a present state analysis. This is extremely difficult and the results are usually wrong and unusable. Interviewing people about what they do doesn't tell you about their value. Creating a report doesn't make things better. Equesense has developed a process to arrive at an awareness of present state through a UNIVOLV process dig that identifies the essential elements without delving into details that are irrelevant to process improvement.

Our focus on evolution makes our deliverables immediately useful since we describe processes that requires the least change in your organization while providing concrete advice for better support.

Our expertise on integrating processes and customer service enables us to ensure processes meet goals without detriment to existing success.

UNIVOLV process dig

UNIVOLV is a process engineering tool-kit. The UNIVOLV Process Dig is like an archaeological dig uncovering the important aspects of your organizations effective successful processes. The result of this dig is a repository of process assets that can be re-used in project planning, replicated across the organization, and built on over time as variant processes are discovered that practitioners find more successful.

The industry standard software process engineering meta-model (SPEM2) is the default structure for output from the UNIVOLV process dig.

UNIVOLV process engineering

Perhaps one of the most challenging things to communicate is what not to communicate. UNIVOLV Process Engineers will determine what is useful about what is created for the team. This can identify a great economy by reducing unnecessary work.

Making the right information available to the right people at the right time is also extremely important in creating efficient processes.

Most importantly, UNIVOLV engineers can identify ways to better support existing processes through process modeling and the identification and implementation of tool support.

UNIVOLV process initiatives

What about innovation?

Process initiatives that focus on the adoption of entirely new practices must be integrated with and compete with existing processes in your organization. Careful planning and education on how to make use of the new services provided by your organization are integral to making new process initiatives a successful and self-replicating practice within your organization.

Isn't this gap analysis?

Gap Analysis focuses on failure. Process Initiatives focus on creating new ways to solve experienced problems. Introducing some testing rigor may be a valid solution to a problem of poor quality. Borrowing from industry best practices may be wise and something your team has not done before. It may fill a gap in a CMMI Process Area. By this time, UNIVOLV Process Digging and Engineering have already provided great support for existing successful evolving processes. Now the focus is on working with practitioners to integrate a new practice with all their other successful work. These practitioners are the ones will be heavily invested in the solution. The solution must truly be theirs. This is the riskiest investment in process improvement, but a great deal has already been learned if Process Digging and Engineering have been put into practice. There has also been a great deal of trust built in the way your organization now handles process improvement. It will not be seen as management meddling, but as support for the development team.

The investment

Can't I do this myself?

Process engineering requires a very different skill set than programming or project management. Sure, you can read up on the various standards there are to learn but more importantly, there are pitfalls to avoid, and a great deal of lessons learned and experience that goes into helping a team realize efficiencies they will find intrinsically motivating. UNIVOLV itself is a set of reusable process assets that helps us help you. Doing it yourselves would make you good process people over time, but if your business is something else, then perhaps you should let us focus on process improvement while you focus on your business goals. The investment really is in listening to your people and responding in a very supportive way.

A UNIVOLV Process dig is orthogonal to UNIVOLV Process Engineering. You could invest in a UNIVOLV Process Dig that would give you a repository of processes in use by your organization which will position you for sustainable process improvement. It will start you on your track to CMMI certification. Most importantly it will improve the visibility and replicatability of successful processes throughout your organization and over time. It is the institutionalization of survival for corporate processes. Typically, the only survival of processes from one project to the next is a result of people working on projects bringing their history with them to the next project. In our business, this means your corporate history has about 3 years of evolution. More likely, your organization is suffering from a more pervasive cycle of chaotic revolution.

UNIVOLV Process Engineering is greatly enhanced by a UNIVOLV Process dig, but it is not strictly required. Iteratively, the existing processes can be mapped to facilitate the support of those processes identified as a result of complaints, stress, and discontent. A more thorough investigation of existing processes supported by a full UNIVOLV Process dig can help identify areas of greater return on investment than just what people are complaining about.

UNIVOLV Process Initiatives need support. Systems composed of people with complex personalities, preconceptions, habits, conceits, learning styles, preferences and cultural backgrounds are not easily described or prescribed to. Your development team is or will be just such a system. They will need to work with each other and work in collaboration with the rest of your organization. It is as much as any software that they create will have to work for your organization. In this case a selection of process assets that are open source or available commercially, such as those from the Rational Unified Process, should be selected with the help of a UNIVOLV Process Engineer. Training can be provided by our organizational development specialists and process engineers at Equesense Consulting. Facilitation to help leadership and team dynamics can also be provided.

The payoff

What about CMMI? What about RUP?

Well, thankfully, if you have implemented process improvement powered by UNIVOLV, then you will be well on your way to becoming a high level and more importantly, highly effective CMMI organization. You might be doing RUP too. RUP means several things at once. First of all, it is a structural organization of process information that has led to the industry standard SPEM2 specification. Secondly, it is a repository of process information started by the work of Ivar Jacobson at Erricson in the early 1980s. If you own RUP, you might even want to replicate some of those successful processes and integrate them into what your organization does as part of UNIVOLV Process Initiatives. In any case, your process repository will be perfectly compatible with RUP.

What about the bottom line?

Instead of investing a lot of money and getting only frustration and fatigue from it, you will be really contributing to the success of the organization and the feeling of valuable efficient work which drives company loyalty, high morale, increased productivity and quality of all the work products while removing inefficiencies that cause negative stress in the organization. We have found that people on teams can do less and accomplish more when processes are engineered using a customer service paradigm and through supporting efficient processes with better tools.

References

Project Management Institute. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide), 2000 edition. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute, 2000.