Sunday, March 24, 2002

Supporting Information. My independent research has intersected Mike's current series of entries on policies, processes and procedures. Among the documents that I've been reading that apply to Mike's topic are:The last two should interest anyone who is applying or implementing a quality program.

Quality and People. I've also posted two new reviews on Amazon that tie into the above documents:

Demystifying ISO 9001:2000: Information Mapping's Guide to the ISO 9001 Standard. I like this book for two reasons:
  1. It steps you through what it takes to implement a quality system based on ISO 9001:2000
  2. It shows how to develop your quality manual and documentation using Information Mapping techniques.
First, the approach to ISO 9001:2000. The author clearly explains what ISO 9001 is and what to expect in the certification process. If you're new to ISO 9001 (or 9002 or 9003) then the comparison in Chapter 2 between the 1994 and 2000 versions can be safely skipped. If your organization is already certified, or you wish to move from 9002 or 9003 to 9001, then the explanation of the differences is extremely helpful. Chapters 3 through 8 are standard fare that you would expect to find in any book about ISO 9000-series. What sets this book apart is the clear writing and ease of finding information. If you've read other books on the subject you know how dry they can be. This book is as lively as the subject matter permits (believe me, *any* book on the subject is going to be ponderous reading).

Chapter 9, Transition Planning, stands out as among the most valuable in the book (or any book about ISO 9000 in my opinion) because it covers the make-or-break issues for achieving certification. As an Information Mapping practitioner I especially liked the discussion of documentation considerations. I've long been convinced that Information Mapping and quality documentation should be integrated. With respect to ISO 9001 there has been much reluctance on the part of companies pursuing registration to stray from the rather ugly standard format of quality documentation. I hope this book changes that because the approach that the author proposes will add value to the quality manual by making it easy to read by all levels in your company, while keeping it 'assessor friendly' for certification and re-certification purposes.

People CMM. In the seven years since the 1995 release of the P-CMM, version 1 I've not encountered any sincere effort by any US client to implement the process. My personal theory is that the P-CMM was little known outside of the software engineering community, especially the DoD-related community, when it should have received wider dissemination to human resources and higher-level management. This book from a mainstream publisher should change that. With respect to the model itself, the previous reviewer has done a remarkable job of describing the model and how this book supports it. I have a few additional notes to add:

  1. This book is about version 2, which corrects some flaws in the first version which had team building at level 4. In version 2, described in this book, team building has been placed at level 3.
  2. Another change from version 1 to version 2 is the alignment of the P-CMM to the CMMI, especially with respect to integrated product and process development.
  3. Version 2 adds institutionalization goals to each process area.
If you have previous experience with the older versions of P-CMM, or CMM-SW, or the newer approaches as set forth in later versions and CMMI, you'll note that there are two implementation models: staged and continuous. The staged approach is the only supported implementation for P-CMM version 2.

The book goes into extraordinary detail about the P-CMM and how to implement it. You can easily use this book as a roadmap to achieving levels 2 through 5 of the P-CMM, or as a resource for improving the people part of the people-process-technology triad that defines IT. As such you need not have certification as a goal to gain value from this book. If you do decide to pursue certification at level 2 or higher, however, I strongly recommend that you also get a copy of Kim Caputo's CMM Implementation Guide: Choreographing Software Process Improvement. That book, while focused on implementing the CMM-SW, contains sage advice and a sound approach to dealing with the real problems that you'll encounter: organizational inertia and resistance, training and implementation issues and obtaining the key ingredient - commitment to perform.

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