Software process improvement too often reflects a significant disconnect between theory and practice. This book bridges the gap—offering a straightforward, systematic approach to planning, implementing, and monitoring a process improvement program.
Project managers will appreciate the book’s concise presentation style and will be able to apply its practical ideas immediately to real-life challenges. With examples based on the authors’ own extensive experience, this book shows how to define goals that directly address the needs of your organization, use improvement models appropriately, and devise a pragmatic action plan.
In addition, it reveals valuable strategies for deploying organizational change, and delineates essential metrics for tracking your progress. Appendices provide examples of an action plan, a risk management plan, and a mini-assessment process.
For those managers who are tired of chronic project difficulties, constant new improvement schemes, and a lack of real progress, this easily digestible volume provides the real-world wisdom you need to realize positive change in your organization.
Review By: Sadie Paige 10/19/2002
The authors argue that successful process improvement entails the following three main steps: clearly defining your goals, getting your stakeholders on board, and measuring your progress. Although this book is positioned as a practical guide for rolling out process improvement in the software development world, and as such makes frequent reference to the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), the methodology could be applied to any process-improvement project.
The first step occurs in “Developing a Plan” and uses a goal/problem approach to scoping the improvement. Following this, an action plan is developed. Finally, in this chapter risk assessment and mitigation are discussed, building upon a practical example throughout the chapter. The many tables serve as useful tools that the reader could apply to a real-life situation, such as the structured approach to determining priorities.
The second step is “Implementing the Plan.” The four guiding principles for action plan implementation are introduced, which include sections on how to sell your plans and how to use the adoption curve.
For the final step, “Checking Progress,” the reader is referred back to the goal-question-metric (GQM) approach and the working example from chapter 1. A number of dimensions to tracking progress are discussed: progress toward the business objectives; performance to the project plan; and progress to the methodology milestones. Additionally, the book offers a practical process for identifying interim improvements to the plan.
The substantial appendices provide references to CMM and some example plans.
This is a practical book that takes the reader through steps to implement process improvement in the software development world. The premise is that improvement is not undertaken merely for the sake of improvement; rather that the organization’s goals and problems are the trigger, and this starts to set this book apart. The approach is particularly well developed in the first chapter, where examples of compelling program objectives are provided and the concept of Goals, Questions, and Metrics (GQM) is introduced.
The structure of the book is clean and simple with just three chapters. Each chapter includes a “map” so that the reader is easily able to follow step-by-step instructions. Referencing sections is easy, in the event that one step is proving particularly troublesome or requires some fresh ideas.
One of the great things about this book is that it is short without compromising content. With the main body comprising just 114 pages, it can be skimmed easily in a couple of hours. With implementation being the biggest challenge for most improvement projects, it would have been good to see more tips and templates in chapter 2. That said, the use of the adoption curve and the advice on the use of pilots were great additions.
The rest of the book comprises several appendices that include useful action-plan templates and further reading suggestions. Making the templates available on the Web was a very nice touch.