Accelerating Process Improvement Using Agile Techniques enhances the likelihood of success for IT projects. This volume describes a proven method for accelerating process improvement that helps set the goals and directions of organizations. The book offers several real-world scenarios describing situations prevalent throughout IT organizations regardless of the primary business in which a company may be engaged. Without the process improvement techniques described in this volume, organizations are at risk of losing valuable employees, as well as money, reputation, and clients.
Review By: Jan Scott 06/17/2010If you are new to process improvement or to project management, Accelerating Process Improvement Using Agile Techniques is for you. Deb Jacobs walks the reader through many process improvement methodologies, describes CMMI in detail, and then writes about agile process improvement using an easy-to-read, "cookbook" approach. Her toolkit in the appendix will give the beginner valuable tips for developing schedules, work breakdown structures, and meeting agendas and minutes.
The process improvement information presented in this book is complete and easy to read. But for the experienced QA professional or project manager, there is nothing new in this book. The toolkit at the end is a wonderful example of all the different forms and reports that a project manager might need, but how many experienced project managers need to be given an agenda for a status meeting or an example of a work breakdown structure?
The book is divided into four parts. Part I defines process improvement and briefly discusses different process improvement methodologies. It then identifies the factors for a process improvement project to be successful, followed by an in-depth discussion of the Capability Maturity Model–Integrated (CMMI), which is the latest CMM model.
Part II introduces an agile process improvement methodology (APIM). The general concept of APIM is that an APIM project will consist of a process team that is responsible for planning, an action team that will perform the actions, and a steering committee. The process team will work with one or more projects to develop and pilot new processes. At the end of the project, a formal audit or review will be held, and, if ready, the organization will move into a continuous improvement mode.
Part III discusses the how-to of APIM, as well as the people issues and organizational change. Part IV is a detailed appendix containing a toolkit of meeting minutes and agendas, an example work breakdown structure, schedule and budget checklists, and audit reports and checklists.
Other than repeatedly admonishing us to "keep it simple," the author doesn't explain how APIM is agile, and it doesn’t appear to be any more agile than other methodologies. Perhaps the author sacrificed agility for completeness in her descriptions. All of her descriptions are very general, so it is difficult to get a sense of specific ways APIM could be applied. A case study carried throughout the book would have added greatly to my understanding.