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A goal-problem approach

During a client visit to help plan a process improvement program, I learned that the group was about to establish six teams to work on the six Key Process Areas of the CMM Level 2. I suggested that the developers and managers temporarily forget about Level 2 and state all the major problems they had. Then they were asked to state the goals they were trying to achieve over the next six to 18 months. After one hour of discussion, they created a list of 23 items. A sample is shown in figure 1.

Figure 1Figure 1 A sample from the 23 problems and goals.

The next step was to have the group compare the list of problems and goals with the topics of the CMM. In figure 1, I have listed the related KPA names and activities in parenthesis after each item.

What was the scope of the improvement program?

The scope of the improvement program was to address the problems and the goals of the organization. Twenty-one out of the 23 items (91%) map to Level 2. When all the problems and goals have been addressed, 46% of the Level 2 activities will have been addressed. The key difference between this approach and addressing the six KPAs in parallel is that the problems and goals tell you which pieces of each KPA to address first. Regardless of the improvement model or standard being used, the problem-goal approach tells you how to scope and sequence your improvement program.

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