e-Talk Radio: Paulk, Mark, 28 November 2000

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Mark: Well Level 3 is where we really start getting to the point where we can start talking about being a high maturity organization. Less than 20 percent of the organizations are at Level 3. Less than five percent are at Levels 4 and 5. So you're talking about the top quartile when you get into Levels 3, 4, and 5.

When we talk about Level 3, what we are fundamentally talking about is putting a, if you will, a learning system in place, an organizational learning system. So that when we learn something, we have the mechanisms in place that other projects can learn from what we have done without having to go through the same trial and error kind of experience, that we don't lose the knowledge that we have acquired sometimes quite painfully. And so it deals with you know defining common processes that are used on multiple projects in consistent ways within the training in place so that people have the kind of tools that they need to do their job in terms of both training and software tools and infrastructure. It's putting the common measures in place so that when we measure things, we know what the comparability is so that we can compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges and know what we're really talking about. And that is fundamentally what Level 3 is all about.

When we get up to Levels 4 and 5, we're really talking about getting a degree of process consistency and measurement in place so that we can do true management by fact. We can look at our data and get a good statistical, if you will, insight into what's going on, applying some of the ideas of statistical process control and other rigorous measurement techniques. And this is stuff that has been done in the manufacturing environment and other industries for decades, you know, going all the way back to the 1920s. And what we gradually learned over the last -- mostly over the last ten years, is how we can get a degree of process consistency that balances the creative nature of the problem-solving work, the design intensive kinds of work that we do when we're building software with the rigor and discipline that allows us to use measurement in some fairly disciplined, systematic ways. And it's really a paradigm shift. It's really a culture

About the author

Carol Dekkers's picture Carol Dekkers

Carol A. Dekkers is President of Quality Plus Technologies, Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in creating peace of mind for companies who want to improve their software processes. Software measurement, software quality, process improvement, requirements, and software sizing (using function point analysis, as an example) are a few of the Quality Plus areas of specialization.

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