Making Process Improvement Work: A Concise Action Guide for Software Managers and Practitioners
Product Author Bios
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.
“This book hits the mark for three important issues:
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:
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
UN-common sense strategies,
This review is from: Making Process Improvement Work: A Concise Action Guide for Software Managers and Practitioners (Paperback)This is one of those books that you'd think would be common sense knowledge, but isnt. I've been working in process improvement for 22 years and this is the first book I've found that collects all of the strategies I've found successful in one place!
The book starts by showing how easy it is to get "lost in the trees" (and kill a bunch of them in the process) if you try to "do CMM" like most people do the first time around. The authors do a great job of showing how to keep the main thing (delivering better quality software) the main thing and avoid creating mountains of useless documentation.
I would recommend that anyone looking at achieving higher levels of maturity in CMM, SPICE, or ISO 9000 read this and take a reality check on their plans.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Tells you how to "just do it",
This review is from: Making Process Improvement Work: A Concise Action Guide for Software Managers and Practitioners (Paperback)The development of quality software has proven to be one of the most difficult tasks ever to arise in the brains of humans. With so many ways to fail and so few paths to success, there is not a single software shop without a great deal of room for improvement. However, determining that a shop needs to improve is about as difficult as hitting the ground if you slip on ice. The hard part is identifying where the changes should be made and making sure that real change is done rather than some simple shuffling of resources or pointless changing of names.
That point is where this book becomes valuable. It is a concise document, describing in broad, but not excruciatingly fine detail how to improve processes for managing the construction of software. The names of the chapters summarize the basics of any well-constructed process: developing a plan, implementing the plan and checking progress. It also gives you sound advice as to how to track the changes in the process, so important to... Read more
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Pragmatic Process Improvement!,
This review is from: Making Process Improvement Work: A Concise Action Guide for Software Managers and Practitioners (Paperback)The numerous examples, cases, graphs, and templates give the reader the tools to start the improvements in his or her own organization. Furthermore, the book is fun and easy to read. To me and my colleagues, it'll be very useful!
› See all 12 customer reviews...
Praise For Making Process Improvement Work: A Concise Action Guide for Software Managers and Practitioners
Praise for Making Process Improvement Work
"At last a commonsense 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
"This is a short, concise volume that 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
"If your customers demand better, faster cycle times and higher quality products, your software development and project management process must change. Making Process Improvement Work shows you how to define your real goals and devise practical strategies for achieving them. Of course, if you're perfectly happy with the way your development teams perform and your customers are always thrilled with your products, don't read this book."
-From the Foreword by Karl Wiegers, Principal Consultant, Process Impact
"As a manager of a software development organization, I found the book interesting, meaningful, and useful. In my work at Bradley Company, I've used the goalproblem approach that the book advocates and have firsthand knowledge that it works well. We've made remarkable progress with it. I specifically liked the following about the book:
- It is short and concise, which is refreshing. Nothing is more irritating than reading through a bunch of fluff. When that happens, I go into skim reading mode and possibly miss important points or the book isn't finished.
- The examples are very good, especially rewording of problems into goals and the compelling versus noncompelling goal examples. The how-to's are very good. I'm using some today. After reading this book, I plan to start using the risk management approach, especially the prioritization technique.
- Insights into different companies given in the examples are great for learning. Very few people in the industry have the background to credibly write a book containing this valuable information.
- The book answered my questions, such as 'How do you vary the approach based on the size of an organization and what happens when you want to achieve a CMM certification and there are residual practices that don't match a business problem?'"
"This book delivers a very clear message about what the focus of the improvement process should be. It makes one stop and think on what the objective really is. Do I want to get certified on whatever the trend the last consultant brought in or do I want to achieve a determined business goal? People will have to take two steps back and rethink about their goals. The book is very easy to read. It does not throw the reader off with high technical jargon. I have the responsibility to oversee all software projects at the largest insurance company in Guatemala, but I would even give it to an end user or somebody from a nontechnical department with the purpose to acquire buy-in in the improvement process."
-Alejandro Acevedo, Seguros G&T (Guatemala)
"At IBM, I was for many years, a key member of the OS/390 project office, working directly with development managers to assure their deliverables met lifecycle development standards of all kinds. Since leaving IBM, I have worked as a consultant in similar roles. Guidance and tips in this book have helped me land a very good assignment as a 'software process improvement mentor' in a large insurance company. The book is unique; much of what is written can be found in a variety of sources but not in one book."
-Wayne Yaddow, Consultant
"I would buy the book, because it is straightforward, with real-life examples and to the point (in Dutch 'gezond verstand' translated directly 'healthy mind, brains')."
-Maurits Van Cappellen, Alcatel (Belgium)
"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
"I found this book exceedingly practical and helpful, particularly in planning an improvement program. I was able to use its advice on planning with no further research or guidance and was very pleased with the results. I expect to refer to these ideas repeatedly and to recommend this book to others who do process improvement. The real-world examples and step-by-step approach are very effective at making the reader feel capable of tackling an improvement program and succeeding at it. Finally, but actually uppermost in my mind, I fully subscribe to the philosophy of the authors that we should undertake improvements because they will help our business."
-Kathy Rhode, USA
"Bravo! A book that provides real help with the 'critical' issues in a process improvement program. The 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.'"
-Helen Smelser, Texas Instruments, Dallas
"The numerous examples, cases, graphs, and templates give the reader the tools to start the improvements in his or her own organization. Furthermore, the book is fun and easy to read."
-Robbert Schravendijk, Quint Wellington Redwood (The Netherlands)
"This is a great book. It is evident it is written from real experience. The chapter summaries are awesome. Anyone starting out or progressing in an improvement project will find this book extremely helpful. The content covers the important steps in action planning. It remains generic rather than tackling the specific practices of one of the accepted models. [The] illustrations are excellent. More than are usually presented in a small handbook. The expertise of the authors and the Process Group is unquestioned. This work further demonstrates their competence in leading improvement efforts and the ability to relate to the managers and change agents."
-Al Bennett, Software Engineering Manager, ITT Industries, Aerospace/Communications Division
"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
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Developing a Plan 1
Scope the Improvement 4
Develop an Action Plan 23
Determine Risks and Plan to Mitigate 38
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
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
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
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