Home > Articles > Software Development & Management > Management: Lifecycle, Project, Team

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

1.2 The Four Principal Functions of Assessments

Assessments have four principal functions: They analyze how an organization really works, they (often through shock) help motivate it toward positive change, their procedures establish precedents that help organizations begin to transform themselves even before the assessment is finished, and they educate organizations by exposing them to best practices worldwide.

These four functions are of course not independent, nor do they always work the same way. Different assessment experiences can affect companies in different ways. Less mature organizations should prepare for the shock that accompanies realizing you aren't as good as you thought you were. They will be in for a strenuous educational procedure. On the other end of the scale, highly mature organizations (many of which will have already undergone previous assessments) usually experience assessments as moments of concentration and careful self-analysis. But one never knows. No two assessments are quite the same in their impact or in their outcomes.

NOTE

Example: During a follow-on assessment, two groups within Organization A reacted very differently to the assessment experience. One group had long been with the organization and had been through several previous assessments. They had once responded defensively to questions and judgments, but they had also seen the progress that the first assessments enabled (in scheduling, the quality of their products, and customer satisfaction) and a corresponding improvement in their own work situations. During the current assessment, therefore, they were eager to assist the assessment team and take on new suggestions, even probing ones. A second group, however, which had recently been merged into the organization, had never experienced an assessment and did what first-time assessees usually do—cover their weaknesses and put the best possible face on everything. They tried to keep knowledgeable people from being interviewed, and they bridled when the draft findings suggested that the organization still had work to do to achieve the maturity level it expected. (Certain managers so feared the results that they found excuses not to attend the draft findings meeting.) Finally, senior managers associated with the first group stepped in. They did their best to explain to the newcomers that their reaction was counterproductive, and they also urged the Lead Assessor to make the final findings as clear and objective as possible—telling him, "Don't hold anything back." Both groups survived, but the first group experienced a very different assessment than the second.

An assessment's success, moreover, depends as much on the understanding and skill of the assessors as on the methods they employ. Analyzing a company depends on knowing enough about technical and managerial attitudes to ask the right questions at the right times while building confidence in the assessment process and in the future of the organization. Motivating an organization toward improvement means emphasizing the positive effects of change. Educating an organization involves knowing the internal and often unspoken logic of process improvement methodologies and the international best practices out of which they grew.

1.2.1 Function 1: Assessments Serve as Analytical Tools

Assessments do not reflect the way the members of an organization think things work or the way the organization's paperwork says things theoretically ought to work. Based on separate interviews with staff at every level, they represent the way things really do work.

Assessments have taken the place of audits in the engineering community because audits have traditionally relied on a company's paper records of how things ought to work, whereas assessments rely on in-depth and cross-referencing interviews with practitioners that (whether or not the practitioners are happy to disclose it) get at how things really happen.

Assessments do not simply tell you the way one part of an organization works on its own. Instead they explain the way a part of the organization works within an organizational structure and an organizational culture, based on a sophisticated understanding of how the software development cycle works in the most successful companies around the world. An assessment's account of how an organization works is thus not merely descriptive. Assessment analysis depends on criteria established by a reference model.

Nobody likes the idea of being compared to a theoretical model. However, the models used by assessments are integrated global descriptions of how many good practices fit together, and assessments need to have a picture of the whole enterprise in mind, not just a catalogue of individual good practices. Assessment methodologies are never perfect, and they can sometimes even seem incomprehensible or perverse. But they remain the best available means of facilitating more productive, more reliable, and more profitable organizations. People apply assessments best when they understand their limitations, their logic, and their practical payoff.

1.2.2 Function 2: Assessments Function as Fulcrums of Positive Change

Assessments stimulate technical and organizational cultures to evolve. Seeing your organization as it really is can feel a little like being punched in the stomach. Managers always think their companies are better than they really are. No one is ever prepared for cold truth. But the shock of an assessment has priceless value because it can initiate momentum toward positive change. It dissolves complacency and enables staff to take a fresh look at how a company can be improved.

Shock alone, however, can lead to defensiveness and paralysis. Along with the shock, assessments put in place a group of mechanisms that help organizations survive the shock and work toward improvement in an open and energized way. Assessments convey the message that management is interested enough in making things better to take real action, bringing out the best in people who had become permanently discouraged. Assessments enable self-analysis to take place in a relatively penalty-free zone. Requiring broad participation, they distribute and limit exposure. Stressing that processes, not people, should be the focus of change, they diminish defensiveness. Providing a voice for change agents, they release energies that had been previously bottled up. Finally, assessments prioritize follow-on activities in an encouraging and logical way, making it easier to take the first steps toward new patterns of work.

1.2.3 Function 3: Assessments Transform Organizations by the Way They Work

When assessments work properly, the medium becomes the message and becomes self-sustaining. Assessments train and habituate organizations in continuing non-defensive self-criticism. The higher levels of maturity in assessment methodology represent nothing more than institutionalized and ongoing self-analysis. Assessments cannot work in a blame culture; therefore, for an intense moment, they condition the members of an organization to think about the pros and cons of what they do in a non-threatening way. Assessments also change people's perspective on their immediate environment and on the larger environment in which they work, and these new perspectives have a way of becoming self-perpetuating. Finally, assessments require senior management to become actively involved in the improvement process, and this involvement almost always lasts beyond the end of the assessment.

1.2.4 Function 4: Assessments Educate Organizations in Worldwide Best Practices

By exposing a large segment of an organization's personnel to the best practices embodied in an assessment's capability maturity model, assessments not only motivate companies to improve, but they also teach them how to improve at a time when they are most receptive to learning new techniques.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

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.

Overview


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.

Surveys

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.

Newsletters

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.

Security


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

Children


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

Marketing


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.

Choice/Opt-out


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.

Links


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