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This chapter provides a process improvement case study. The hypothetical firm has just kicked off an effort to reach CMM Level 4 within two years. The case showed how to justify the expenditures in terms of early error detection and correction, exploitation of COTS, accelerating productivity gains, and moving to product lines, architectures, and systematic reuse.

Key Points

  • Managing process improvement activities is like playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons. To avoid the dragons, you have to anticipate when and where to make your next move. Otherwise, you might wind up in the dungeon.

  • It takes a game plan, senior management support, and a solid business case to win the game of Dungeons and Dragons.

  • When briefing senior management, always ask for something. This makes managers feel as if they are contributing to your effort.

  • Most organizations have the information to build a business case. First, develop your plan of action. Then, estimate the cost for putting the plan into action. Finally, forecast the benefits, and use them to justify your planned expenditures.

  • When justifying initiatives, cost avoidance is preferred to cost reduction because it deals with future expenditures.

  • When determining benefits, categorize them as tangibles or intangibles. When the returns are marginal, the intangibles can be used to help tip the scales and justify the effort.

  • Any combination of the four approaches discussed in this chapter can be used to pull together a business case. When using them, err on the conservative side. Nothing discredits numbers more than the perception that you are being overly optimistic with them.

  • Never be casual with numbers. Define them and limit them as precisely as you can.

  • Don't be afraid to suggest that organizations be reinvented and refreshed when justifying future initiatives.

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