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This chapter is from the book

Mentoring

Mentors are responsible for teaching the project teams what they need and when they need it. Resources placed on projects using RUP will need knowledge to adopt the initial process usage model.

Mentors provide context-sensitive guidance for the initial process usage model (later, the adoption models for each project type) to project team resources through direct knowledge transfer. Open enrollment training classes and discipline-specific books can take a novice only so far, maybe 15–20%; what they cannot do is take someone through the other ~80%—the real-life situations where the process and tools are applied on an actual project, where that person is under the stress and pressure of meeting timeline demands. This is where mentors are essential; they work shoulder to shoulder, in the trenches with people to coach them through this.

A critical area of knowledge transfer from the mentors is in the adoption and practice of the RUP adoption models—how to follow the guidance in a certain situation within your organization on a given project and when to not follow it on another. This kind of judgment is very hard to make without past experience with applying RUP. Naturally, rules about how to follow rules are not found in RUP, because RUP, or any other modern software engineering process, cannot possibly be aware of every situation that will occur at every organization. Nor is it possible to express everything in words or pictures. [4]

Role of Mentors

As discussed in Chapter 4, "Implementation Team," there are two types of mentoring roles: the experienced "External" Mentor and the "Internal" Mentee or mentor-in-training. Most companies prefer their Internal Mentors to be long-term employees; however, rarely are there long-term employees who have existing RUP and/or Rational tools experience that is current (you are just embarking on an implementation of this, right?). The Internal Mentees will need to be partnered with external resources who not only have the much-needed experience, but also are skilled at being able to transfer it to others. They are the future mentors for the organization—i.e., mentors-in-training.

The primary responsibility of the External Mentors is to transfer knowledge to the internal mentees. They are paired with the Internal Mentees (as well as the core project team member(s) in their respective disciplines) and work on actual project deliverables to facilitate the knowledge transfer. The External Mentors must have depth of experience with the RUP discipline they are mentoring as well as an overall breadth of experience with the entire RUP and all disciplines and best practices. They must also possess a solid practical knowledge of the Rational toolset, specifically the tools that add value to their discipline.

This is a very specialized person who can fill the role of the External Mentor. The best candidates for this role are either independent consultants with proven results or the consultants from IBM Rational Brand Services.

Mentoring Models

During the course of your implementation, the mentoring efforts are going to need to be dynamic. You will begin with mentors who will be focusing on the key ROI items (see Chapter 3, "Assessing Your Organization and Building Your Business Case for Organizational Change") and supporting the initial pilot projects. During the course of your implementation, you will need to grow your mentoring team to support all the disciplines, as well as the many projects in all the varying areas of your organization.

Implementation Approach Mentoring Model

The initial mentoring model for supporting the pilot projects (see Chapter 6, "Implementation Approach") is represented in Figure 9-1. In this model, each selected Internal Mentee is paired one to one with an External Mentor. The External Mentor transfers knowledge to the mentee by working hand in hand on the pilot projects. This facilitates real knowledge transfer to the mentees (as well as the project team resources) by actually doing the activities that result in the required artifacts. The mentee will be the "lead" in their respective discipline for each of the pilot projects (i.e., they will be an actual member of the project team). By the mentee doing the actual work, guided by the mentor, they will not only gain the experience of completing the artifacts, but will gain the knowledge of being able to make decisions on what needs to be done and what does not.

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Figure 9-1 Implementation-level mentoring model

In this mentoring model, the Internal Mentees and External Mentors will need to cross various departments. You will most likely have pilots in the varying technologies that your company uses to deliver systems; therefore, you will have pilots in different departments. The Internal Mentees in this model need to be part of the implementation team full time. As your implementation progresses, yielding more and more projects that are applying RUP techniques and utilizing the Rational tools, you will need mentees in each of your significant departments (see the next model).

The goal for these initial mentees is that by the time the implementation team has run pilot projects, learned lessons, and transitioned to a program-level approach, they will have demonstrated the competencies and passed the tests to become mentors (see the later sections of this chapter for detailed information on this transition).

Program-Level Approach Mentoring Model

Now that your implementation has transitioned to a program-level approach (see Chapter 7, "Transitioning to a Program Approach"), your mentor model will need to transition as well. To support a program-level implementation approach, you will need to have mentors in each of the significant development areas that are going to have a fair amount of coverage applying RUP techniques and utilizing the Rational tools. Basically, what you are going to do is take the Internal Mentor that you have in a given discipline and begin the process of developing mentors in each department by selecting mentees for the Internal Mentor to begin working with and transferring knowledge to.

Your initial mentees have passed tests and demonstrated the competencies to be "certified" as solo mentors (see the later sections of this chapter for detailed information on this transition). This is a significant milestone; you now have internal employees who have gained the knowledge and experience to be RUP mentors. Note that this does not happen overnight; they will have been part of the pilot projects that may have spanned the last 10–14 months. Figure 9-2 represents the program-level approach model to mentoring. In this example, the Internal Requirements Mentor now has mentees of his or her own in each of the departments that will have adoption coverage that warrants its own mentor.

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Figure 9-2 Program-level mentoring model

Early on, the newly certified Internal Mentor will still need help from the External Mentor. Figure 9-3 represents this, where the Internal Mentor is the primary, and the External Mentor is the secondary resource.

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Figure 9-3 Program-level mentoring model, External Mentor Supported

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