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Product Strategy

The first steps towards CMMi


After a few months of reflexion on the approach that we are going to use for a CMMi deployment on our projects, we began by providing a first model approach to our technical management (Cornel), our quality management (Aleth), all our project managers and myself. Pierre de Thelin, who has been our “quality consultant” for 4 years now, continues to provide us with his assistance on this new strategic project.Last September 22nd, 23rd and 24th, Pierre presented the complete CMMi model in one day, which was followed by two workshop days meant to help us determine the Deming wheels that we need to “put in motion” in order to adjust to this model. After going through the 729 pages of the repository, the situation seemed somewhat delicate, as we had yet to establish the steps that we needed to cover. During the two Workshop days, we went through the model stages again in order to determine what needs to be improved. In the end, we all shared the same view: yes, there is work to be done but improvements are the natural step forward. We felt that CMMi would be the continuation of the ISO certification (obtained in 2008) and this is an important asset. Indeed, we have continually improved our internal and production processes since 2008.I would like to resume a debate that was started during these three days. After the first day, there was a discussion on the position of other frameworks (scrum etc.) in relation to CMMi. Several participants needed to sleep on it and the next day the conclusion was: they are completely complementary, a CMMi project can be carried out in SCRUM, for instance; one provides organization while the other provides the control points. But it was important that those (project managers) who will play an active role in managing project changes share their experiences and visions.Of course, there is a step we need to overcome, but it is smaller than the one we overcame at a rapid pace between 2007 and 2008 for the ISO certificate; in fact, this is an ongoing process of improvement of our maturity level. We haven’t yet definitely decided about our project certification strategy, but I can already state that the CMMi certification for all projects is not the objective. On the other hand, the improvements that we are bringing to our processes will be integrated into the projects, as we have been doing for 3 years. When we start a project with a dedicated team, in which we have a best efforts commitment, we systematically deploy the same production processes as for fixed-price projects (performance-guaranteed execution). Why shouldn’t our clients benefit from the processes we commit to when we make a best-efforts commitment?Then why are we striving to adjust to the CMMi model? This model is oriented towards a major part of our activity, software development. It has already proven its legitimacy in this field. In my opinion, the most important thing is that it offers us a path to follow for the improvement of our production processes.At the end of these three days, we defined an action plan that covers a period of several months. The quality management and the technical management are responsible for organizing this change management with the project managers. The scope for action is set, responsibilities are distributed, the project has now been launched.

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