Common Sense Process Improvement Strategy

Process assessment is the initial step in a technology transition cycle that spans many process improvement activities. The cycle begins with assessment and encompasses several other activities, as illustrated in Exhibit 1:

Exhibit 1. A Technology Transition Cycle for Process Improvement

Start

Assessment

Process

Evaluation

Education

Selection

Installation

Justification

■ Education — Most software managers and developers know relatively little about software engineering. To increase the level of software engineering knowledge, an organization must develop an effective education strategy that is tied to the results of the process assessment and that coordinates training content and timing with immediate project needs so that maximum benefit can be attained.

■ Selection — Selection defines specific goals and criteria for choosing software engineering procedures, methods, and computer-aided software engineering tools; it leads to the development of a rational mechanism for costing, justifying, and acquiring these important elements of software engineering technology.

■ Justification — Expenditures for software engineering procedures, methods, education, CASE tools, and associated support activities must be shown to provide a return on investment before money is committed. A justification model is used to demonstrate the bottom- line benefits of process improvement.

■ Installation — To install software engineering technologies successfully, a transition plan must be devised and executed. The plan defines tasks, responsibilities, milestones, and deliverables and specifies a schedule for getting the work done.

■ Evaluation — Some managers make changes to improve the development process, select and install new technology, and then stick their heads in the sand, dedicating little time to evaluating whether the technology is working. The evaluation step initiates an ongoing assessment of the CASE/software engineering installation process.

All these steps define transition strategy, and they all depend on a successful process assessment. In the remainder of the chapter, the first step — process assessment — is considered in greater detail.

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