Reaching the Peak of CMMI: How Fast Can You Climb?

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practices are not fully institutionalized, high employee turnover will slow the process down even further. When the workforce is stable, people carry the institutionalization of the organization’s processes and procedures forward through time until it takes on a life of its own and it becomes part of the organization’s culture. One crucial feature of the LG Insurance Sector was that between 2003 and 2005, this organization was extremely stable and had the lowest employee turnover of any LG CNS division. The practitioners enjoyed their assignments, got satisfaction from their work, and were highly motivated to improve their processes and procedures. They grew together as a team, forming strong bonds, and they experienced a lot of "pride of ownership" for process improvement. This factor greatly helped with their rapid institutionalization of their Maturity Level 4 and 5 practices.

The nature of the project work greatly influences an organization's ability to mature. The length of the project life cycles has a direct effect on the amount of data collected, analyzed, and used for process improvement. An LG Insurance Sector behavior that greatly impressed me was their use of a repetitive weekly cycle. Even though they worked on 4 annualized projects, for all intents and purposes, all work was on the same schedule and consisted of a series of weekly mini-life cycles. This repetitive cycle made it very easy to perform Generic Practices 2.8 (Monitor and Control the Process) and 2.10 (Review Status with Higher Level Management), as well as collect ample data. By weekly collecting and analyzing the project and process data, LG Insurance Sector was able to quantitatively manage the processes and statistically manage their selected sub-processes. Over the course of two months it was easy for the organization to collect and analyze enough data to compute reasonable control limits and quantitatively determine their process capabilities. And within four months they were able to statistically improve their inspection process as well as decrease the cost of rework.

And last but not least, the Korean Culture played a major role in LG Insurance Sector's ability to rapidly implement High Maturity practices. There was minimal resistance to change and process improvement, an extremely strong sense of camaraderie and being part of a work family, a strong sense of pride in performing a job well, a personal identification with the customer's needs and concerns, and the drive to do whatever it takes to complete a task. The lack of naysayers and this strong "can do" attitude greatly enabled the organization to pilot new changes, rapidly deploy the changes, and ultimately mature the organization.

Though these Critical Success Factors were major contributors to the LG Insurance Sector's success in rapidly achieving Maturity Level 5, it is vital to remember that any CMMI Implementation calls for a plan to coordinate resources; pilot the improvements; analyze the results; and successfully deploy the new and/or revised process assets. Planning is vital to the success of any process improvement endeavor. The LG Insurance Sector wrote and executed a series of plans that they quantitatively managed and clearly communicated the status to both management and project staff.

Based on the success of LG CNS and the LG Insurance Sector, here are some practical approaches that can help any organization.

  1. If you have a good working relationship with your customer, get them involved in your process improvement program. Educate them on what you are trying to achieve. Get their input on your Process Goals and Objectives.
  2. Management commitment is essential. Senior Management must be a strong advocate of process improvement and daily demonstrate their continued support. They need to clearly state

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