One of the more prevalent process issues organizations wrestle with seems to involve the appropriateness and wisdom of moving to higher levels of process discipline. In the CMMI world, this is generally referred to as Achieving Higher Levels of Process Maturity; in other domains, you may hear it referred to as SPC (Statistical Process Control), evidence informed management, or similar.
Addressing this issue minimally entails three major decision points:
- How do I make the move from where I am?
- Is it worth the effort?
- How do I know when we have achieved our objective(s)?
In this series of blog posts (articles), I’ll attempt to briefly address these topics. As always, the posts offer a synopsis of ideas and learnings. Remember your mileage may vary and your situation may require ‘special handling’.
Assuming your organization has been working for a number of years on improving its process but your processes have never been examined/ reviewed by a High Maturity Lead Appraiser (HMLA) or a Six Sigma Black Belt (SSBB)/ Six Sigma Master Black Belt (SSMBB) for fit and function within a high maturity process environment, they really need to be examined by such experts to establish a clear understanding of ‘where you are’ and ‘what you have to build upon’. What you don’t want to do is take a linear, check-list approach to this effort. Rather, you want to build upon ‘existing’ organizational strengths and assets, and target tangible business benefits. To accomplish this objective effectively, you will need to identify an experienced, practiced and pragmatic business partner and mentor.
This type of examination can usually be accomplished remotely but will, nonetheless, require approximately 16 to 24 hours of off-site support from your high maturity process improvement mentor/ partner. The review can be conducted via Skype, Webex, or similar using Desktop sharing, so that actual processes and project artifacts may be jointly discussed viewed/ examined. All artifacts and processes supporting your existing business practices and disciplines will require examination. Typically, remote sessions are best conducted in 2 hour (or less) blocks of time; longer sessions are difficult on all attendees. Stated simply, ‘too long’ sessions are just ‘no fun’.
Review attendance and facilities need to be pre-arranged; schedules and sessions also require pre-scheduling. When conducting remote sessions across geographies (time zones) every effort should be made to arrange review sessions within normal working hours in all locations. If that is not possible, sessions should, at least, take place during normal ‘waking’ hours. Getting up midnight to attend one of these sessions will not be popular!
This review effort should be undertaken at the outset of any move towards higher maturity; taking place before any other activity. It should be designed to provide a report and recommendations regarding the amount of effort required to achieve a Higher Level of Process Maturity. The review can, and should, act as a “Go” – “No-Go” point before further expenditures are made or taken. Minimally, this event should provide detailed information from which you can refine/define this program’s overall schedule.