Process Improvement Essentials
by James R. Persse
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Process Improvement Essentials
While every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this book, the publisher and author assume no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.
To Laura Chodosh Allen, and to Winifred Persse and Patricia Persse
THIS BOOK IS NOT INTENDED AS A COMPREHENSIVE LOOK AT THE ART AND TECHNIQUE OF PROCESS improvement, nor is it intended to give you a complete look at ISO 9001:2000, CMMI, or Six Sigma. Those types of books are already out there. The weighty thing about them is that they are comprehensive, filled with good information, depth, and a lot of material. Sometimes they contain more than what you might be looking for initially.
Because I work in the field of process improvement, it is not uncommon for people to come up to me at trade shows or after
They want an answer that's less than comprehensive. (In fact, they often want an answer that's less than useful.) Two or three sentences to the query: Which program should we adopt? Or, what's the difference between these three? Or, what would it cost to get certified? Those are questions none of us can answer in a three-minute conversation. But I've tried to come close to that in this slim volume.
The chief purpose of this book is to help people who are new to process improvement get a basic understanding of the purpose, aim, and structure of this growing field and to help them understand how ISO 9000, CMMI, and Six Sigma relate to the industry and to one another. It's also designed to help set
In Part 1 of this book, I'll begin by taking a general look at the intent of process improvement. Today's technologies industries are becoming more and more quality-conscious,
After I look at ISO, I'll look at the Capability Maturity Model from the Software Engineering Institute, a foundation based out of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. (The latest release of this program is actually named CMMI-Dev, Version 1.2, with the "I" standing for Integration and the "Dev" standing for Developmentan integrated model intended for development organizations.) CMMI integrates quality recommendations for systems engineering, software engineering, and integrated product and process development. You'll notice that's a more constrained focus than ISO 9001:2000. ISO is shaped for any manufacturing enterprise. CMMI is specially designed for technology companies, especially those that deal in some form or fashion with the design and development of software. CMMI is structured differently from ISO. It's shaped as a collection of Process Areas, each with a series of goals and practices designed to help you reach those goals. I'll look at each Process Area in CMMI and then look at ways an organization can implement the Process Areas to reach its own quality goals.
I'll also take a look at Six Sigma. Six Sigma is a quality program that's been used to great extent and with great success at companies such as Honeywell, Motorola, and (most famously) General Electric. Six Sigma is a way to measure quality by measuring a company's ability to meet the needs of its customers through process refinement and process improvement. It's highly customer focused and highly data-centric. One of its
The Audience for This Book
This book is intended for people who are new to process improvement. It is written for people who want to know more about process improvement and about the process improvement programs most popular today.
Most technology companies can benefit from some kind of process management focus. This became painfully apparent when the dot-com bubble burst around 2000. At that time, it seemed the software industry was going haywire and the venture capital industry was on for the ride. Hundreds of millions of dollars were being pumped into the most superfluous of concepts. Companies
Today the industry is becoming wiser. The fact that there is increased interest in ISO, CMMI, and Six Sigma is an indicator of that. This is a good trend, but it has not yet matured.
While more and more companies are looking at the potential benefits of process management and process improvement, they have a tendency to appoint internal people to carry the torch for them, people who have a vested interest in the outcome but who have little or no formal training in process improvement or much exposure to the facets of the field.
This book is intended for those people who would like to get a starting foundation in process improvement. For the focus of this book, these people typically fall into two general groups.
People in this position are usually appointed for several reasons. They typically know their organizations, they know the ins and outs of their IT operations, they know their people and the culture, and they know a lot about the current problems and issues. But they probably don't know a lot about process improvement.
This book provides these types of managers with a high-level overview of the purpose of process improvement: What's the case for such an undertaking and what benefits might it bring to an organization? They can also look to this book to get a general approach for establishing a process program: steps they can coordinate to define a program, implement it, and then manage to realize sustained benefits from it.
These managers can also use this book to
The executive management is the other audience for this book. I am currently working on a major quality-program refresh initiative for a large credit card processing company. The CEO and CIO caught on that this might be a good idea when the board of directors asked them to audit their internal systems for SOX compliance. (SOX regulations directly impact business systems that touch accounting or financial reporting operations.) When they
I was actually the third party they rushed in to address this problem. The first was Price Waterhouse. The second was the third floor of the city's most prestigious law firm. In the wake of scandals, such as Enron and WorldCom, and the
Executive management probably should not be burdened with needing to know the ins and outs of process improvement. So heavy books on the topic are probably not the ticket. But a lighter overview can
From a broader perspective, a general overview of process improvement can probably benefit just about any member of your organization. Some will need to know a lot about the specific
But before I move into the next section of this book (an overview of how to design and manage a process improvement program), I'll take a brief look at what types of organizationsor situations within organizationsmight have to work through some foundational issues before they can take full advantage of a process improvement program. That's an odd statement to make, especially in a book such as this that endorses and heartily recommends such programs. But the fact is, there are conditions that can derail even the best of intentions to set a process improvement program in place.
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For help in the production of this book I'd like to thank my editor at O'Reilly Media, Mary O'Brien, and my copyeditor, Linley Dolby, who polished the manuscript from start to finish.
I would also like to thank the executives who allowed to me to feature their professional insights in the "Views from the Top" segments of the book: Jim Ditmore of Wachovia Banks, Guy Bevente of SBC, Bruce Brown of T-Mobile, Linda Butler of BellSouth, Shailesh Grover of Cingular Wireless, and Ken Raybun of T-Mobile.
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The Power of Business Process Improvement: 10 Simple Steps to Increase Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Adaptability