Organizations’ reach a phase when they feel the need of establishing a Quality Management System to ensure basic process discipline is instilled amongst their practitioners. Process improvement journey begins with the conceptualization and definition of various business processes along with the required enablers such as templates, checklists standards and guidelines. This process architecture is referred as Quality Management System “QMS”.
“Processes are like Insurance”, when implemented in the right spirits result in long term benefits such as:
Cost reduction due to early detection of defects, improved productivity, reuse of code components and timely awareness of project health and predictability to Stakeholders. Fact based decision making, better work environment and infrastructure to contribute through suggestions, learning and sharing to the Practitioners. How do we preempt from slipping into this state. What are those factors that one needs to consider enjoying both the success and benefits from these programs perennially?
Challenges Faced by Organizations
Inadequate Branding of QMS
Typically many disparate misconceptions from practitioners are associated with QMS. Few common misconceptions are as follows.
• Process is an overhead
• I do not need process as I have a good team and a manager
• Our customers have not asked
• We are following customer processes
• Process is required for large projects only
QMS Implementation Gaps
Considering the dynamics in organizations, it is natural to have gaps between the desired levels versus the actual process implementation levels. Few reasons for these gaps are:
• Organizations on the growth path often tend to change the business model. This may result in movement of resources from current levels to next higher levels.
• Movement of resources from and into the organization and change in roles
• Effectiveness of QMS in alignment to the current business practices
• Insufficient Management oversight
• Analysis of projects’ defined software process (tailoring) not done for a long time resulting in a outdated processes
We all know that QMS does not remain static but evolves and improves continuously while aligning to the changing business needs. Hence it becomes imperative to identify a mechanism to enable continuous improvement.
How do we make this happen?
First step is to establish a PISG for driving continuous improvements that constitute practitioners from various functions, to facilitate “inclusive” process improvement and to foster collective ownership.
Critical responsibilities of this group are:
• Create an infrastructure to continuously collect feedback/improvement proposals and drive process improvement initiatives aligned to business needs
• Propagate importance of processes to practitioners
• Formal mechanisms to address process dependencies with functions
• Rewarding individuals who contribute towards the process initiatives
Branding “QMS” and Creating Awareness
Identifying a relevant name for the QMS is a very important activity as part of branding exercise. Effective implementation requires a good branding of the “QMS” to reduce misconceptions. The branding helps in portraying the “QMS” as a valuable product rather than an overhead to practitioners. In addition to the name, a logo along with a punch line helps in further emphasizing the importance of processes.
Some of the other activities associated with this could be:
• Gamification strategies to create awareness and garner participation and contribution
• Understanding change in business needs and effecting desired changes, in short narrowing gap between definition and implementation to a very minimal
• Updated interactive portal for accessing process artifacts and samples of implementation.
Instill Paradigm shift from “relationship” to a “partnership” mode with the customer.
This can be realized through:
• Sharing of plans and responsibilities with stakeholders
• Seamless integration of processes of customer with organization’s processes
• Provide timely updates on progress and highlighting issues upfront
• Highlighting the Intent and Benefits of implementing processes
• Delivery organizations to shift from a Traditional review– “Rear view” to a Mature review perspective –“Dashboard view”
Adapting the “RRED” technique
What is this RRED technique?
“RRED” (Remove, Reduce, Enhance and Design) practices and processes is a technique, which helps in identifying redundant and deadpan activities to achieve lean/optimal processes.
RRED technique focuses on linking Improvements to realizeEasy, Effortless and Enjoyable processes resulting in improved productivity, predictability and Quality. This may be expressed as follows:
“S2 = E3 + P2Q” Where,
S = Success, Smile
E3 = Easy, Effortless, Enjoyable
P2Q= Predictability, Productivity, Quality
Implementing above solutions in an organization does not appear to be an uphill task. With involvement from various stakeholders, it is possible to bring in the much desired “transformation” of practitioners from atheist to firm believers of processes and graduate to continuously maturing processes. To conclude –“Process improvements (QMS) will be declared successful if it meets the intent of supportingBusiness and not just for process sake.