Multi-Model CMMI® Appraisals – Factors to Consider

In the last few months, I have been frequently asked the question, “Should we do our DEV and SVC appraisal as a single multi-model appraisal?” This question is posed usually by large IT organizations in India. These organizations have already been appraised at ML5 of the DEV model (maybe more than once). And they now are on the verge of their first SVC appraisal in 2012. I guess the issue of multi-model appraisals will become more important in another 1-2 years, when the next round DEV and SVC appraisals are due for many organizations.

Well, the answer is “it depends”:-).

In this note we will try to understand the factors to consider (elaboration of what “it depends” on), so that you can take them into account when you face the situation. This note has been put together with a large dose of inputs from D Sankararaman, Mukul Madan, and V Seshadri. These were validated by Channaveer Patil and Dan He. However, they are not responsible for any errors that may have crept into this note.

Multi-model appraisals are covered in detail in Appendix G of the SCAMPISM A v1.3 Method Definition Document (MDD) downloadable from here.

One appraisal team’s experience on a multi-model appraisal (SCAMPISM v1.2 completed in 2010) at TCS is shared in a SEPGSM 2011 presentation by Ron Radice, et al, is available here.

Disclaimer – this note is not definitive, nor is it an “official” position paper of any organization or lead appraiser. However, it may be considered as one of the inputs while evaluating the option of a multi-model appraisal.

The current queries for multi-model appraisals are typically arising from organizations wanting to do DEV+SVC together, and hence we will use that situation as an example in this note. However, multi-model appraisals could comprise any combination of two or more of DEV, SVC, ACQ and People CMM®, and the factors discussed in this note apply to the other situations as well.

Here are the factors to consider.

Organizational Disruption. If you are a big organization, you could have either two (or more) long organizational disruptions, or one mega-ultra-long disruption. The choice is yours :-).

Number of ATMs. In multi-model appraisal you are likely to need lesser number of ATMs trained on the models. Assuming that you will try to keep a gap of a few months between the two appraisals (if done separately), the number of ATMs trained on the models may need to be higher, if you are doing the appraisals separately. During the interval between the two appraisals, the ATMs may resign, retire, go on leave, be allocated to some other useful work (assuming that they are still capable of doing some other useful work :-)), or just refuse to be ATMs again (“not another appraisal as ATM!”). So instead of training a bunch of 10-12 people on the models, you may have to train a higher number if you are doing the appraisals separately.

LA/ ATL requirements. For a multi-model appraisal, you will need to engage a lead appraiser appropriately certified as SCAMPISM-A LA for all the models (constellations, actually) covered in the appraisal. Therefore, the choice of LAs on multi-model appraisals may be significantly lower, especially if your appraisal is “high-maturity” (ML 4 or ML 5).

LA Willingness. The calendar time for the on-site activities for a multi-model appraisal is definitely going to be much higher than for a single model appraisal (this is also discussed as a separate factor later on). LAs may not be willing stay away from their families, pets and home city for such a long time. Or they may demand a fat sum as hardship allowance :-).

Sampling of Projects (or Workgroups). This does not change whether you are doing a single multi-model appraisal or two separate appraisals. If there were X projects selected for DEV and Y workgroups selected for SVC, then in the multi-model appraisal, the number of instances would be X+Y. Sampling will be done as if they were different appraisals.

Overall Effort. This is one area where there is a lot of misunderstanding. Note that the sample size remains the same (multi or otherwise). Hence, the effort for artefact collection remains similar, the effort for artefact review by the appraisal team is also similar and so is the effort for interviews and discussions. There could be some (a tiny bit) effort reduction in a multi-model appraisal due to the following:

  • Single batch ATM training (instead of possible two batches). However, one batch of ATM training can have a max of 12 participants, so with backup ATMs you may have to run two batches anyways, even for a multi-model appraisal.
  • Sponsor meeting (assuming the same sponsor for both the appraisals)
  • Opening meeting can be a single one instead of two
  • Some economies of scale (not a lot) on artefact collection, artefact review, interviews and preliminary findings for “Oh” areas – organizational PAs like OPD, OPF, etc. However, organizational PAs will have to be investigated from both (DEV and SVC) the contexts explicitly. So the saving would be more in terms of being familiar with the terminology, document architecture and names/ faces of people running the “Oh” processes, assuming that the people are the same in the DEV and SVC contexts.
  • General effort saved for the LA and ATMs due to familiarity with the layout of the office, the security procedure, the parking lot, the cafeteria food, the washrooms, the office furniture, the room freshener, the air-conditioning, etc. (this factor may be invalid, if the appraisal team has to constantly move across buildings and cities anyway).

The project-level (or work-group level) process areas will have to be investigated for each instance separately (either in the DEV or the SVC context). Since the sample size is going to be determined the same way (whether it is a two separate appraisals or a multi-model one), the effort to investigate instance level data is going to be same. This includes the effort for the preliminary findings (or equivalent).

With the above micro-savings, the overall appraisal effort savings (LA + ATMs) is likely to be in the range of 15%-20% (i.e., the total effort for a multi-model appraisal is likely to be around 15-20% less than the total effort for separate appraisals).

Calendar Time. With the large one-time effort for the multi-model appraisal, the calendar time for the onsite period is also likely to be higher (than that of a single model appraisal), because there is a limit to the number of ATMs that an LA can handle. Hence the ATMs will need to be out of their day-job for a longer period. The long drawn absence of the ATMs from their day job can be disruptive. A reported multi-model appraisal done had an onsite period of close to the upper limit of 90 days (see here).

ATM / LA Fatigue. This is where the multi-model (for high maturity, large organizational scope) becomes untenable. As the on-site period start crossing three weeks, the fatigue becomes obvious. In organizations that use standard processes, and have done this over many years, one can expect the documents to be similar. The responses during the interview sessions will also be similar.

For the ATMs, after the glamour of being ATMs, the novelty of PIIDs and Process Area Worksheets, and the thrill of FI-LI-PI-NI-(and NY, of course) wears out, it is an extremely boring, mind-numbing and dull exercise.

(Digression: This may be one of the reasons that LAs have become good storytellers and general entertainers. I know of a LA who sings to keep the ATMs entertained, another one tells jokes on a non-stop basis. Some LAs have started blogging. SEI may have to initiate a study to understand whether LAs have a higher tendency to ….whatever 🙂 End of Digression).

After around three weeks, the productivity, alertness, and eye for detail falls down steeply for the ATMs as well as the LA. The other issue is the stress on the ATMs of maintaining confidentiality. They cannot talk to their friends and colleagues, or smile at passing acquaintances, because they may be asked that dreaded question “and how are we today?” Those who have been ATMs know about this, others readers may ask their friends/ colleagues who have been ATMs to confirm this :-).

Target Levels/ Results. For the purpose of the results (ML/ CL), the multi-model appraisal will deliver two results, two different sets of ratings. Your target rating could be different for the two models and the appraisal result rating will also be different for the two models. This is the same as doing two separate appraisals.

Novelty / Publicity Value. “Will we be the first to do a multi-model appraisal?”; “No?”; “Okay, can we be the first do to it in this country?”, “How about this city?” and so on….

Well, if your organization is looking to announce itself as the first in something, we can surely work out some combination of conditions that you will be the first in. Not just the first, but maybe the only one. Ever.


Having said all that, are there any conditions where it may be worth considering a multi-model appraisal? Yes, if you have the following it may definitely be worth considering:

  • Low number of Process Areas (ML2 kind of stuff) in both the models, and
  • Small organization (number of sampled instances are likely to be low)

Under these circumstances, the number of ATMs for each separate appraisal would be low (say 4-5), so one can increase the ATM team size to 8-10 and run the multi-model appraisal in the same number of days as a single separate one. So the organizational disruption time and LA cost can be much lower.  Also, ATM training can also be done in a single batch (max batch size is 12).

Finally, the issue is a complex one, and let us conclude by saying once again that “it depends” and that you should consult multiple LAs and take their opinions before coming to any firm conclusion.

Also refer to:

Thanks a lot to D Sankararaman, Mukul Madan, V Seshadri, Channaveer Patil, and Dan He.

Please feel feel to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available at the top of this article/ post.


Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, or association.

SM-SCAMPI and SEPG are service marks of Carnegie Mellon University.
LA- is a short form of SCAMPISM Lead Appraiser. (It is not a term of endearment like “da”, “pa”, “ma”, or “po” used in different parts of the world :-)).
ATM – Appraisal Team Member (not an Automated Teller Machine :-))

You may also be interested in the following posts uploaded on the same blog:

I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here.

Interview: Monty Bharali (Head-HR, DSTWS) shares his experience with the People CMM® in a BPO-IT context

Monty Bharali Photo-1Monty Bharali (Monty for short) is, as he says, forever 32 (not too old and not too young). He has worked with organizations like Satyam Computers before joining DSTWS. He has been a speaker at many conferences. He believes that his experiences on implementation of the People CMM® will add value to fellow professionals.

[Update: DST Worldwide Services, India was appraised and rated at maturity level 3 of the People CMM® in Aug 2011]

Q:           Please tell us something about your professional history/ background

A:            I did my graduation from the University of Madras and my masters in management from the Symbiosis, Pune. I joined Satyam (now Mahindra Satyam) in 1998 and left them after 10 years as the Head of HR for their Business Intelligence and Consulting and Enterprise Solutions teams. I joined DST Worldwide Services, India as Head – HR 3 years ago.

Q:           Now tell us about your organization, DSTWS

A:            DSTWS, India is a 100% subsidiary of the US based MNC, DST Systems (revenue of USD 2.3 billion as of December, 2010). The firm focuses on IT as well as ITES offerings, largely to the parent firm. Primary verticals of expertise are the mutual fund and healthcare services. Presently DSTWS India has close to 1100 associates based out of Hyderabad.

Q:           When and how did you start the journey with the People CMM® model at DSTWS?

Right from the time DSTWS India (in its present form) came into existence in late 2008, we wanted to work towards benchmarking of our people related practices. An Executive Management decision was taken in mid 2009 to pursue the People CMM® over the next 2 years with the target of being maturity level 3 compliant by mid to late 2011. The intent was to make sure that the  implementation was done in letter and spirit for each of the people practices of the model (up to process areas of ML 3).

Q:           What were the expectations in terms of what the model would do for DSTWS?

A:            We wanted the model to give us an edge. We wanted to be an “Employer of Choice“. We wanted a rounded approach to associates’ growth and development in terms of their career, competency, work-place support and long-term association with DSTWS.  We also believed that adherence to the model will make sure that these practices are sustained and welcomed over a period of time.

Q:           What preconditions/ foundation did you lay out at the start of the journey?

A:            An overall buy-in from the senior management – that people processes are not just about HR (in fact it’s not about HR at all), it’s about business taking care of the most important (quite possibly the only) factor that is essential to their existence, i.e., their associates .The acceptance of business leadership that people practices are an important part of their business was the most important initial prerequisite.

Q:           Please explain the extent of involvement of other executive managers in the whole implementation

A:            As stakeholders, the entire senior management group (IT Head, BPO Head, HR Head, Finance Head and the Country Head) was closely involved throughout the program. The group was in charge of validating, understanding and taking charge of various aspects of the implementation. Not only were they involved in driving parts of the implementation but they were instrumental in helping the HR team evolve and correct many of these processes to ensure greater usability and acceptability by people in the business groups. Subsequently, as it stands now, they have taken the responsibility of many of these systems/ processes.

Q:           What was the expectation in terms of the timeline for successful appraisal? Was that met? Did you have to extend it?

A:            While there was an ambitious timeline to complete the same by first quarter of 2011, we re-calibrated it to May-June 2011 (24 months) after the initial gap analysis. The final appraisal was completed in Aug 2011 (26 months instead of 24).

Q:           What kind of external expertise and help did you resort to? Did this help you?

A:            External expertise is a necessity when one is running an initiative like the People CMM®. Otherwise, one is blinkered by one’s limited experience of how these initiatives are run; external expertise truly helps in multiple ways.

  1. External experts bring in best practices and innovative approaches from other places, to give an example: our use of learning maps for competency development was significantly strengthened with external help.
  2. It also helps to have someone look at us from the outside and suggest areas where one may not see the obvious issues (being insiders, and having reached a comfort zone).
  3. External expertise is also useful for preparation towards appraisal in terms of a systematic approach, and planned collection and cataloguing of artifacts.

External expertise was provided by Prakash Hegde and Chinmay Pradhan of QAI.

Q:           Please do tell us about the key benefits experienced by DSTWS. Were they in line with the original expectations? Better? Worse?

A:            Multiple benefits were experienced both in terms of organizational improvement and organizational branding by us. The key benefits are:

  1. All round improvement in people processes especially those concerning Performance Management, Competency Framework, and Competency Development. The most wonderful part is that, now business extensively drives and uses some of the people processes.
  2. As an employer, especially in a niche space, it is a great comfort for potential hires (especially from the best IT firms) when we say that we are operating at ML3 of the People CMM® .
  3. We’ve been able to use this result for branding through press releases, client communications and participation in industry events.

Q:           What kind of organizational transformations did you observe during this journey?

Monty Bharali Photo-2A:            The transformation was both dramatic and extensive. We moved from taking our first steps as a process driven organization to an organization with institutionalized people processes. All round performance management, transparent compensation philosophy, HR being an integral part of business planning are no longer aspirations, they’re now a reality. Planning for talent acquisition, development and retention today has absolute credibility because business has clearly seen benefits. Additionally, some of the automated systems were created and matured during the journey (like Credence, the performance management system).

Q:           Were there any false steps that you had to undo, retrace or roll back?

A:            Our interpretation and understanding of process areas evolved during the journey, and hence the implementation underwent considerable modification. Some examples:

  1. Our understanding of Workgroup Development (a process area of the model) was limited to cross-functional teams having an objective. It was only later  we realized that we had to run cross-functional teams like any other project – with milestones,  detailed plans, tracking, and formal closure.
  2. We had to make several minor changes to our processes and templates to ensure that the inter-linkages are tight. For example – are we using the same competency definitions during hiring as well as later for existing staff? Or, how accurately are we assessing the competencies during the hiring/ selection process?
  3. Introducing “effectiveness” measures across the board – For example, how are the learning interventions resulting in competency development? How are they linked to overall organizational performance?

Q:           Does the rest of the organization view the HR function in a different light now? In what way has that changed?

A:            HR was always been a fairly integral part of the business in DSTWS, India. What we clearly see as changed is the perception of HR as a value adding group, instead of just an internal service group. HR is now seen as supplanting business with initiatives like business dashboards, competency databases, and participating actively in RFPs.

Q:           You have two major components of your organization – IT services and BPO. In what way was the implementation of People CMM® different in these two parts?

A:            At the outset, we believed that being a reasonably small (or at best mid-sized firm of around 1100 people), we would want the entire organization to be covered as part of the implementation. The greatest challenge faced was the diverse demographics – average age, average tenure, understanding levels, and cultural acceptance of initiatives across these two groups. The approach therefore needed to be nuanced to factor in the differences.

We saw this trend in the entire competency related process areas, career development, and workgroup development process areas.

One advantage that we had in IT part of DSTWS was that most of the people were familiar with CMMI® and knew what to expect, what was the logic, what steps needed to be followed. In case of the ITES (BPO) part, while there was great acceptance of the concept, it took long to establish the “how” parts. That aside, in DSTWS, India, both BPO and IT got closely involved in each and every activity. In some initiatives like creation of the competency dictionary and learning maps, both the units competed with each other.

Q:           Would you be aiming for ML 5 now? If not, why not?

A:            We would be firstly looking to maintain our ML3 for a while and incorporate some strong practices of mentoring and performance alignment from ML4 and ML5.

Q:           How do you plan to sustain, change and improve?

A:            Sustaining is the most challenging aspect of the People CMM®. Since it’s not directly related to delivery to customers, it’s easy to take your eyes off the ball. We plan to sustain by continuously doing internal audits on the implementation (we will take the help of the ATMs and the internal quality team). Additionally, we also plan to engage external consultants to guide us through both the compliance as well as improvements before the re-appraisal.

Q:           In your assessment what elements are likely to slip, if you don’t keep a close watch?

A:            The greatest risk lies with making sure workgroup development, competency development, succession planning, and competency based practices  are sustained.

Q:           Is there anything you would like to tell/ convey to the readers?

A:            Yes, there is — Don’t do P-CMM® because you want a certificate for HR. Get involved because you want to truly become an organization with the best people practices. Get involved in P-CMM® after convincing all stakeholders that P-CMM® is people related practices and not HR practices.

Finally, have fun along the way — for everyone who believes in people practices there is a lot to learn and a lot to share in this journey (and it’s not a short journey).

Monty Bharali Phato-3Monty lives in Hyderabad. He may be contacted at

Monty recently presented the DST People CMM® experience at the SPIN Hyderabad conference/ tutorial.

Monty’s is also available on LinkedIn

Thank you, Monty, for sharing your experiences and insights!

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:


The views presented above represent the personal views of Monty Bharali and are in no manner reflective of the official views of DSTWS, or AlignMentor or any other organization, community, group, or association.

I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here.

Extreme Process Tailoring and Mapping – How much is reasonable? (Story of a Pizzeria)

Last Friday I decided to go to the neighborhood pizzeria for lunch. I was sure of what I wanted to eat, and knew it would cost me around 300 rupees (INR)1. I took my usual place, and was greeted by a grinning waiter. After the standard “how are you, sir?” (someday I plan to actually narrate all my woes, but I was not in the mood to do so on that day :-)), he says, “We have the standard combo meal at a very special price, just 99 rupees.”

“And what can I get in the standard combo meal?” I ask.

“Well you can start with a soft drink, and…,” he says.

“I am not really interested in drinking colored sweet water that is gassed. Skip the combo, let us start with some tomato soup, regular size”.

Soft Drik with SoupThe waiter would not give up on his combo order. “In the combo, I can substitute the soft drink with a soup, no problem.” Off he goes to get the soup.

After the soup arrives, he is ready to get the next dish. “Sir, shall I get the garlic bread?”

“Don’t you know that burnt flour has no nutritional value? Please get me a garden fresh salad instead – a regular portion,” I say.

Garlic Bread with SaladHe goes to check, comes back and says, “Sir, I can do only a small portion of salad instead of the garlic bread.” After some more discussions he agrees to serve a regular portion of the salad. He also says something about reducing the ice cream that comes at the end of the standard combo.

I manage to substitute the pizza with a pasta, and also wrangle a cup of tea instead of the reduced ice cream portion. I get the meal I wanted at 99 rupees (instead of the 300 rupees that I should have spent). Maybe the waiter also achieved something by selling one more “standard combo”.

Manu MapIf at the end of the day, the pizzeria tries to reconcile the billing data with what was produced in the kitchen, here is what they would have come up with, for my transaction.

(In reality the situation was much more complex, since I was with my wife. So the dishes we got should have been mapped to 2 standard combos. In the interest of the reader’s sanity, I have used “blogetic license” to simplify the situation :-)).

A process auditor/ reviewer would have been aghast – this was extreme tailoring (later justified by extreme mapping), violating all principles of reasonableness.

In typical organizations, there are often situations where one set of processes need to be mapped to another set of processes or some framework. Here are some of them:

  • A new process standard (or is new version) is adopted and we need to identify the gaps in our processes with respect to the new standard
  • Our customers would like to confirm that our processes satisfy some requirements of the customers’ standard
  • Our process team wants to make sure that the customer imposed processes still continue to meet the requirements of our standard process, and
  • Post an acquisition, we need to prove that our processes do meet our new owner’s standard processes

And it is in some of these contexts that we sometimes find unreasonable distortion- driven by the need to seem conforming while continuing to do something totally different. Over the years, expertise has been built in the industry and there seems to be a community of practice calling themselves X!reme Mappers2:-).

Excessive tailoring, if it is all-pervading in the organization, actually defeats the purpose of having a standardized process, and can prevent an organization from reaching maturity level 4/ 5 of the CMMI®/ People CMM®.

So maybe it is time someone defined limits of reasonable tailoring and mapping.

Any thoughts on how much tailoring is reasonable?

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:

1-      Rupee/ INR is the Indian currency. As per the current exchange rate (Feb 2012), 1 US$ is roughly = 50 Rupees. However, if we factor in the purchasing power in India, the rupee is much more powerful than what is indicated by the exchange rate. For example, in India you could buy 3 Kilograms of ripe bananas for 50 rupees – but one can’t live on bananas alone 🙂

Mysterious_Eyes2-      X!reme Mappers. According to the Processpedia (Volume 6 draft v23.4), X!reme Mappers is a shadowy guild, and is affiliated to the Society of Dark Process Arts. They can be hired only through word of mouth and have the motto “We can map anything to anything. You continue doing your thing, while we take care of the mapping.” More information on X!reme Mappers can be found in the draft version of Processpedia.

I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here.

Book Review – “Workforce of One” by Susan Cantrell and David Smith

I was scanning the shelves of a book lending library, when I came across this book – the title intrigued me, so I picked it up and browsed through it. Based on the title, I had imagined an extraordinary organization of one person (me!) – it turned out to be something else, but interesting enough :-). Anyway, I borrowed the book, read it, and here is the review.

The main theme of the book/ book summary is as follows:

  • In the last few years, retail customer experience has been highly customized by internet based enterprises (e.g., Amazon, Netflix, Dell) with a great degree of success.
  • Employee experience too can be customized, to provide an environment to motivate each employee to deliver his/ her best for the organization.
  • This is required because people’s expectations have changed due to their experience as customers, because other organizations are already doing it, because it enables higher employee retention, engagement and productivity, and because it increases the ability to attract high potential employees. “One size fits all” is no longer a desirable approach.
  • Customization has become feasible because of the variety of tools and technology that are increasingly available.

According to the book, workforce practices have evolved from chaotic, ad-hoc, person-specific, unstructured, unfair systems to something that is monolithic, over-controlled, one-size-fits-all, and over-standardized. And now it is time to make the systems more flexible, tailored and customized.

The authors propose a four pronged approach to this customization, comprising:

  • Segment the workforce on dimensions like geography, tenure, career level, role, age, etc. to understand the requirements and needs of different segments.
  • Offer modular choices, in areas like compensation, working hours, learning methods, working place, etc. The modularity ensures structure and equity while providing flexibility.
  • Define broad and simple rules, instead of defining very elaborate policies and procedures. This will permit flexibility while ensuring that the values of organization are adhered to.
  • Foster employee-defined personalization by making people aware and enabling managers to guide employees to make appropriate choices.

The book covers multiple areas of people practices that can be customized. Some of them are rewards and recognition, learning, work place, work time, career growth pace and choices, assignment mix, performance goal setting and feedback mechanisms, compensation mix, benefits, and work place tools/ technology.

The authors use examples from organizations like Best Buy, Microsoft, Accenture, Procter and Gamble, Deloitte, The Container Store, Royal Bank of Scotland and others.

As a reader, I found some of the examples (illustrating the concept of customization) as being trivial. For example, the authors use the fact that a multi-national organization provides company transport to employees in Hyderabad (while it does not do so elsewhere in the world) as an example of customization (geographical segmentation). To me, this is like saying that the company follows Indian labor laws in India :-).  Since the organization has set up their office far away from the city’s residential areas and the city does not have adequate public transport, there is no choice for the company but to arrange transport for the employees.

The problem with trivial examples is that on reading the examples, many people will go, “yeah, we do that, actually we started that 10 years ago”. And miss the whole concept of the customization approach.

The book is easy to read and grasp and proposes a powerful concept worth investigating. Definitely worth reading for senior HR folks and CXOs (just ignore the trivial examples :-)).

Here are some details of the book:

By the way, you DON’T need a Kindle device to read a Kindle ebook

Front Cover - Workforce Of OneBook Title: Workforce of One: Revolutionizing Talent Management Through Customization

Authors: Susan M. Cantrell, David Smith

ISBN: 1422147584; ISBN-13: 9781422147580

Binding: Hardcover

Publishing Date: Nov 2010

Publisher: Harvard Business School Publishing

Available at:,, and Flipkart

Available as eBook in Amazon Kindle.

By the way, you DON’T need a Kindle device to read a Kindle ebook.

How do the concepts covered in the book align with the People CMM®? Well, that is the subject of another post, some other day! :-).

Other book reviews uploaded on the same blog:

I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here.

Interview with Prakash Hegde: Experiences with People CMM® Implementation

Prakash Photo -1Prakash Hegde is a Principal Consultant with QAI. Prakash helps organizations enhance their HCM (Human Capital Management) practices and delivery processes. He has published papers and has been an invited speaker at conferences.

In this interview, Prakash shares his experiences in bringing People CMM® to organizations.

Q: Please tell us something about your professional history/ background

I started my career as an Engineer-Trainee in an engineering & project management consultancy firm. I spent early years of my career in design and implementation (and generally running around) in turnkey projects associated with chemical and petrochemical plants. Then there was an inflection point when I decided to do something different in life. This led me to take a break to add a MBA qualification to my resume.

The IT bug, the promise of more moolah, and more pleasant working conditions meant a switch in career, and I drifted into the world of Quality (ISO, CMM®, CMMI®, etc). In early 2001, my organization took up People CMM® implementation (post CMM® ML5). Since I was a part of the SEPG, I was drafted into the task force on People CMM® (not necessarily with my consent!) – and that was my first brush with this HCM model. My stint in QAI since the past 6 years has provided me the opportunity to pursue interests around HCM practices (in addition to Software Process Improvement and Project Management). With mentoring from more experienced colleagues, I have delivered on People CMM® and other HR enga gements for multiple clients across software, BPO, manufacturing, banking, and consulting industry segments.

When I reflect back on my career, the journey has been exciting with its fair share of thrills (experiencing different cultures in different countries, abiding friendships with folk in my client organizations) and anxieties (lost luggage, delayed flights and running into the training hall to face exasperated participants, contributing to increase in hotel occupancy rates and dealing with the associated repercussions of work-life imbalances :-)).

Q: In the HCM space, what kind of consulting do you do?

Well, I provide “end-to-end consulting” on People CMM® (classic consulting jargon :-)).

To put it simply, I conduct an assessment of the client’s current systems and processes to do an initial benchmarking with respect to People CMM® Level x (2, 3, 4, or 5) and draw out the roadmap for actions to be taken.

I also support the clients in redesigning and streamlining their HR systems, conduct implementation checks and audits, and provide training  on different themes to help them reach various milestones of the People CMM® journey.

And then there are clients with whom I have been involved in focused improvement projects around building competency frameworks, designing assessment methodologies, conducting HR process audits, and setting up performance management systems using Balanced Score Cards and HR Score Cards.

Q: What industries have you consulted on People CMM®?        

Most of my clients have been from the IT industry. However, in the last few years, I have also gained some insight into people practices and challenges in other industries like manufacturing, banking and insurance through the People CMM® engagements.

Q: Some HR experts say that People CMM® is only for IT companies – your views.

There is a perception among some HR experts that People CMM® is only for IT companies. This perception must have arisen due to the fact that the early adopters of People CMM® have been IT (Software and ITes) type of organizations. Also the fact that the “CMM®” frameworks have been traditionally associated with IT. That the Software Engineering Institute is the custodian for this framework may have further boosted this perception.

Many IT organizations with a large and diverse workforce have felt the need to put in place systems and structures to manage their workforce. And since the USP of the People CMM® lies in the fact that it promotes a “system based view of HR”, it found a natural home in IT firms. However, as awareness has spread through the HR community, people realize that People CMM® helps scale up, and streamline processes in any industry where it is necessary to attract, develop, deploy, and retain people to improve business results.

People CMM® has a structured maturity based approach to HR systems comprising around 500 good practices with competency as a key theme. It has moved beyond IT to banks, hospitality, manufacturing, insurance and consulting companies.

In my view, the next few years will see a lot more traction for People CMM® adoption as businesses realize the benefits of adoption and see this as a “natural and best fit” framework for scaling up talent management practices.

I also find that large consulting firms have a vested interest in their clients not implementing the People CMM®. (I have commented on this on an earlier post in AlignMentor, here. I repeat my comments).

HR consulting firms, both big and of the boutique variety, are engaged by organizations for specific interventions like competency dictionary creation, employee satisfaction surveys, psychometric assessments, and at times, for writing HR processes.

This work soon becomes an “annuity” kind of business for the consulting firms. The consulting firms tend to implement solutions locally. HR heads eventually raise concerns like “we are stuck” and “there are many overall integration issues and we are not able to reap long term benefits from such recurring investments”. Because these solutions are not embedded into a larger systemic framework of HR, they operate in silos and acquire a life of their own; and over time, become “vehicles set in motion that cannot be controlled”, even if the organization sees diminishing returns.

At the risk of sounding like an “evangelist” for People CMM®, I believe that People CMM® provides that overall architecture (and binding glue) for a HR framework that can integrate and align various pieces to business needs.

At times however, this can threaten the “localized” approaches taken by consulting firms.

I have seen organizations (while on the People CMM® journey) start to question the relevance of such local initiatives, as they increasingly view these through the prism of the overall HR architecture.

And that is why some consulting firms tend to down-play (and sometimes bad mouth) the use of People CMM®. I have also come across published articles where some consulting firms try to spread an impression that People CMM® is very IT-Industry specific, very certification oriented and does not provide value.

Since the model is a bit difficult to read and comprehend (requires “systems thinking” mindset to understand the essence), such “hear say” tends to gain credence.

The greatest advocates for the utility of People CMM® are those HR and business heads who have experienced a few cycles of the implementation. In my view, implementation of People CMM® provides a great opportunity for HR to do some serious spring cleaning of their legacy systems, tie up loose ends, and build solutions to address systemic pain points.

Q: What are the key challenges in P-CMM® implementation in the banking industry?

I will touch upon a few of the implementation challenges that I have encountered in banks that are using the People CMM®:

  • Delivery of HR processes in retail banking. Retail units are spread across the country, in tier 1, 2 and 3 locations. Each location has very few employees, and so, it is not physically possible for them to be in direct contact with the HR folks.  In such a situation, the reach of HR services and building employee engagement across the units is one of the key challenges.
  • Getting the buy-in of the line functions (like Treasury, Investment Banking, Capital markets) for their participation in evolving competency dictionaries.
  • Line management involvement in individual performance feedback, appraisals and people development.
  • Instituting KM (Knowledge Management) practices.
  • Putting in place effective mentoring programs.
  • Delegation of authority as a conscious “thought-through” approach to enable agility in decision making.
  • And of course getting bankers to attend people management related training programs, and sensitizing them on the need to take up accountability for staff development in addition to delivering their core banking services!

Some banks have been able to address the above challenges to a large extent by taking the overall guidance from the People CMM® framework.

Q: What are the key challenges in People CMM® implementation in manufacturing organizations?

I am listing a few key challenges faced in the manufacturing contexts:

  • Getting line managers who have been in the system for 25 plus years to build people management skills and engage with the next generation workforce.
  • Creating accelerated career paths for an impatient and aspirational new generation workforce.
  • Old timers are not net savvy, and hence there is lots of paper based documentation. This increases cycle time for many HR processes like recruitment, performance management, promotions, and even identification of training needs.
  • Implementing competency based practices as against the traditional experience based, hierarchical systems.
  • Administering employee satisfaction surveys for unionized labor that form a significant and critical portion of the workforce.
  • Top-down and bottom-up communication on HR policies and practices, and grievance handling is a challenge because of diversity in the workforce (management staff, non-management staff, and contract workmen spread across factories in interior regions).
  • Managing risks related to “mass retirement” in a given year that may result in loss of key skills and knowledge derived from decades of specialized experience.

Q: From your experience, when organizations start with People CMM®, what are their expectations?  How do you manage such expectations?

I would categorize my experiences into 2 categories.

  1. Organizations that think that they are already at level x of the People CMM®, because they have won some HR awards! Such organizations tend to expect to be assessed to Level 3 or Level 5 within a very short time.
  2. Organizations that believe they don’t need a rating but want to only use People CMM® to enhance their practices.

In scenario 1 above, we urge organizations to undertake a formal orientation program on the model with an expert, to help them understand the nuances and sub-texts of the framework. This orientation program provides a much better perspective to stakeholders in the organization on the People CMM® requirements and intent, and helps them do a mental calibration of existing practices with the new understanding so obtained.

This is followed by a diagnostic study (or gap analysis) of their existing people management systems. This includes conducting focus group discussions with the staff across the senior, middle and lower level cadres to understand the perception on people practices and delivery, in addition to examining documents containing policies, procedures and implementation data.

The diagnostic study helps organizations get an objective view of their strengths and weakness with regard to the requirements of the model. This forms the basis for drawing out a detailed plan of action to reach the desired maturity level.

I have seen organizations re-calibrate their expectations significantly on the time-frame required (basically they realize that they need a looong time!) to reach the desired maturity level based on the above interventions.

In scenario 2, organizations start off without any stated goal of formally reaching a level. As they progress and realize the early benefits by implementing the model, they pick up urgency towards completing the journey by asking for a formal appraisal. A formal P-CMM® appraisal resulting in a possible maturity level X level also acts as a boost to the implementation team and gives the team greater confidence, and recognition for the effort they have put in.

Q: From your experience, how long do organizations take to reach maturity level 3?

Approximately 12- 15 months for medium-sized organizations, if they already have most of the basic maturity level 2 practices. Overall the timeline depends on the scope, size, locations and ability to propagate and manage changes to workforce practices, resulting from the implementation of the model.

Q: Again, based on your experience, do the organizations manage to sustain their processes after the appraisal?

After all the change management and momentum built up towards an appraisal milestone, we have seen that organizations tend to slacken a bit in the months immediately thereafter.

In my view, what helps organizations sustain their practices are:

  • Establishing an internal governance mechanism to review the state of implementation, through score cards and internal audits that includes senior management oversight.
  • Having an external entity conduct periodic audits to check continuing implementation.
  • Having an internal team that focuses on not only sustained implementation, but also checks on continued effectiveness of HR practices and undertakes next level of improvements.
  • Of course, the fact that People CMM® appraisal results have a shelf life (3 years) also provides a sense of focus; no organization would like to be de-listed from the SEI published results database!

Prakash Photo 2Prakash Hegde is a Principal Consultant with QAI India Ltd. He may be contacted at or You may also reach him via his LinkedIn page.

Thank you, Prakash, for sharing your experiences and insights!

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The views presented above represent the personal views of Prakash Hegde and are in no manner reflective of the official views of QAI, or AlignMentor, or any other organization.

I am Rajesh Naik. I am an author, management consultant and trainer, helping IT and other tech companies improve their processes and performance. I also specialize in CMMI® (DEV and SVC), People CMM® and Balanced Scorecard. I am a CMMI Institute certified/ authorized Instructor and Lead Appraiser for CMMI® and People CMM®. I am available on LinkedIn and I will be glad to accept your invite. For more information please click here.