Home > Articles > Process Improvement

Like this article? We recommend

Achieving Harmonization

To achieve harmonization, we have translated findings from research—much related to pairings such as CMMI and Six Sigma or ITIL and Six Sigma—and from field experience, creating a reasoning framework. This framework contains some basic questions to address and principles to use—working together to achieve alignment in the layers and levels of an integrated business. This reasoning framework can be used regardless of where you are in your process improvement journey. Following are brief descriptions of key aspects of our harmonization reasoning framework.

Mission Translation: Align Organizational and Improvement Objectives and Identify Candidate Technologies

Mission and business drivers should govern the selection of each improvement technology that is adopted within an organization. For this approach to work, the mission and highest-level strategic objectives must be decomposed to operational objectives. Technologies then should be selected based upon their ability to directly provide or indirectly enable process features and capabilities that are needed to achieve mission and operational objectives.

For instance, in Figure 1, the ubiquitous goal of customer satisfaction is decomposed into subordinate goals related to improving an existing IT system, creating a new IT system via "acquisition" (contracting/outsourcing), and ensuring that the right resources are available to do the work. [3] The improvement group for the IT organization that developed this diagram then proceeded to identify the strategies, tactics, and measures to achieve each goal shown in the diagram. They inherited Lean, which had already been chosen as a governance model by the enterprise, but the decision about which improvement technologies to support process establishment was at their discretion. For example, for the goal "Establish acquisition processes," they chose a blend of process maturity models and ISO standards, specifically CMMI, CMMI-ACQ, and ISO 12207.

The improvement group supplemented the selection of these candidate models and standards with the decision to reuse or extend processes being implemented to support the goal "Stabilize/establish engineering processes." Specifically, the group chose processes related to measurement and analysis, requirements development and management, causal analysis, supplier agreement management, decision analysis, risk management, project planning, monitoring and control, and configuration management. The group decided to use the value-stream mapping tool from Lean to finalize the process architecture (guided by the models) and "design in" efficiency and attention to customer value.

Figure 1

Figure 1 Decomposition of a high-level goal.

Finalize Selections and Categorize the Improvement Technologies Strategically

In the alignment of technologies to mission, each technology is selected (or confirmed) independently for its potential functional contribution to the organization’s objectives. In strategic categorization, each one is examined for its high-level relationship to the others. Additionally, this categorization can be used to refine the list of technologies by identifying gaps and enabling high-level validation and verification. It’s important to note that this is not a one-time activity, but rather an iterative process that needs to be performed each time new improvement technologies are considered for inclusion in the organization’s process landscape.

To support categorization, we use a strategic taxonomy to distinguish technologies in two dimensions:

  • Governance, infrastructure, and tactical
  • Discipline-specific and enterprise-oriented

Figure 2 depicts this taxonomy graphically.

Figure 2

Figure 2 Strategic classification taxonomy.

As a combination of technologies is determined, there are a few considerations for translating strategic-improvement technology selections into practice:

  • What is the desirable implementation sequence?
  • What are the enabling and other strategic relationships between technologies?
  • How are the selected technologies interwoven and implemented?

When used as a backdrop for benchmarking and pattern analysis, the taxonomy in Figure 2 can provide insights about effective implementation sequences of different technologies. Coupled with logical analysis and research about technical and feature relationships, such taxonomy-based views can shed light on enabling or other strategic relationships that may influence sequencing decisions, as well as help refine selection decisions. For instance, People CMM has been observed in many high-performing organizations as an enabler of discipline-specific infrastructure technologies such as CMMI and ISO 12207. And Six Sigma has been found feasible as an enabler and accelerator of technologies such as CMMI and ITIL. [Siviy 07].

Once strategic technology selections and decisions are made, it’s necessary to dive more deeply into the technical relationships between and among technologies to determine how best to interweave and implement them. The remaining aspects of harmonization, summarized in the following sections, address these technical relationships and how to translate them to process and implementation.

Design Your Improvement Solution

Whether implementing technologies singularly or in an integrated approach, some degree of tailoring or customization typically is required to enable the technology or technologies for rollout to the organization. For multimodel process improvement, we recommend supplementing strategic categorization with composition of selected improvement technologies and process architecture. These aren’t necessarily sequential, but may be quite iterative, and the starting point may vary. Some organizations may find it most effective to begin with process architecture and then back into technology selection and composition. Others may find it most effective to follow the sequence from strategy to tactics.

Compose the Improvement Technologies Tactically and Operationally

When designing your overall improvement solution, understanding the details about how technologies connect with each other is critical. This is a specialized task and represents one of the major contributions that improvement groups can make to the process and to improvement integration within their own organizations. Further, this task is one of the major contributors to cost reduction in process improvement, as it integrates the output from previously disparate groups, enabling fewer disruptions of projects and operational units during improvement rollout.

In contrast to strategic categorization, which involves high-level technology relationships to aid selection decisions and alignment, technology composition examines overlapping, distinctive, and enabling functionality among technologies. When considering pairs or small groups of technologies, a "what-how" relationship often emerges. Likewise, detailed feature mappings may be created. Both of these are useful but insufficient, however, simply due to the complexity that occurs as you add more technologies into the mix. To address and reduce this complexity, we are developing a tactical taxonomy called "element classification."

Architect Your Processes to Achieve the Mission

For the most part, engineers and operational staff don’t execute improvement technologies to get their daily work done. Instead, they execute the organization’s process, including the adaptation(s) made to it as a result of the influence of the improvement technologies. It’s a big leap from technology composition to process architecture and definition. In fact, we see these as separate but related tasks. Technology composition is not the equivalent of process architecture and process description; both are needed. Process architectures and descriptions define the day-to-day operations, including how work gets done and products get out the door.

From our research observations, the most successful organizations using multiple improvement technologies created a process architecture and accompanying process descriptions—their corporate way—and then mapped the technologies of interest to it. Their specific mappings served both to verify features and to ensure compliance, where the latter was needed. With this approach, improvement technology implementation was seamless and transparent to the engineers and operational staff. The process also was deployed rapidly and effectively, and easily updated over time. [Siviy 07]

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020