Adoption of People CMM® -02: Benefits Experienced

Many organizations have adopted the People CMM® model (by Bill Curtis, Bill Hefley, and Sally Miller) – while some have undergone formal appraisals and assessments, others have adopted the practices but not participated in any formal appraisal of their implementation.

Many of these organizations have reported benefits (attributable to the implementation of the People CMM®). Such reports are available in the Software Engineering Information Repository (SEIR). (You need to register yourself to get access to the repository – the registration is free).

Typically, benefits touted and linked with People CMM® hover around Employee Engagement Scores, Employee Voluntary Turnover/ Attrition, Cost of Hiring, Cycle-Time to Hire, Employee Productivity and Employee Utilization. (It is also interesting to note that in the same organization, credit for the same benefits are claimed by other competing initiatives like CMMI® implementation, ISO 9001, Six Sigma, and sometimes by specific improvement projects :-)).

In addition to the above benefits, entities that implement the People CMM® consistently across two to three years tend to display certain long-term changes in their behavior. It is these observed changes that are listed in the next few paragraphs. This set of benefits / changes have been observed across several organizations that have implemented People CMM®, and been appraised / assessed using a Class-A method at least once for maturity level 3 or higher.

The sequence of the benefits listed is not necessary in any order (of priority or significance or sequence of occurrence).  They are also not mutually exclusive – each benefit could be feeding on the other. Here goes:

SystemThe organization increasingly takes a systems approach to its people related processes and initiatives. It understands that a small change in one process can have a large impact on (apparently) unrelated areas, because all things are inter-dependent. So, proposed changes in the organization’s policies and processes, and new initiatives are evaluated on a more holistic basis.

For example, hiring a new batch of fresh graduates at higher salaries is looked at not just from the point of view of salary cost, but also the impact on the morale of the existing staff, their engagement levels, and the impact of diversion of funds from other activities like training, certifications, and so on.

Long TermImplementation of the model promotes a long-term thinking in terms of people –numbers, skills, locations, and roles.  Business plans are used to create workforce plans and people related strategies that span several years. Actions like opening new locations, building new skills and collaboration with external experts are identified well in advance to equip the organization to get ready for the future, in a cost-effective manner.

CollaborationThe model increases transparency, democracy and openness in the organization (People CMM® is not meant for secretive organizations :-)). Organizations set-up multiple channels communications for top-down, lateral and bottom-up movement of information. People are encouraged to participate more and more in decision making and empowered to challenge decisions taken by higher-ups. HR policies are no longer seen as cast-in-stone :-).

AgilityImplementing the People CMM® builds organizational agility and ability to execute cross-functional projects. Very few initiatives require the active participation and collaboration of all functions/ departments. People CMM® implementation requires extensive collaboration between “support” functions like HR, Facilities, and Learning & Development with the “mainline” delivery functions. The model builds the organizational muscle to handle cross organizational initiatives.

AutomationMost organizations end up with considerable level of automation of their people related practices. Aspects like performance management (goal setting, regular feedback, end-cycle feedback), compensation (normalization, rule-based increases and bonuses), promotions, training (planning and tracking), staffing (resource management, recruitment, selection, offer, joining, induction) are automated. In addition, these sub-systems get integrated and interlinked.

Analytics

Management of people related aspects becomes more data driven, and supported by data analytics.

For example, employee attrition is not looked at just as a month-on-month figure, but is subject to further analysis of patterns (are people of a career level more prone to attrition? Do people typically resign after spending a certain number of years in the company? Is attrition more common with people who possess a certain skill? Do people working outside their home state have a higher tendency to resign? Is there a linkage between the annual increment cycle and the peaks seen in attrition?).  The understanding achieved through the analytics is then used to change policies, or pay additional attention to a certain group of people.

The organization’s people management becomes drCompetentiven more by competencies, rather than by tenure, or career level. The shift is gradual – at first, the importance shifts from seniority to demonstrated performance, and then there is a gradually increasing emphasis on competencies (knowledge, skills and process abilities). This shift to competencies start rippling through various processes like project allocation, hiring, promotions, increments, and bonuses.

Growth ScaleImplementing the People CMM® practices enables the organization to handle scale/ growth very quickly. This is a knock-on effect of systems thinking and increased automation. The organization is able to hire faster, provide the required knowledge and skills quickly and gear up for large projects rapidly.

Business PartnerAnother change that is seen is that the HR function becomes more of a business partner. Line functions start demanding business value from HR processes, and when such value is delivered, increase the involvement of HR in overall business strategies and decision-making.

ManagerLine managers become better people managers, reducing the load on HR, and other support functions. Line managers start providing inputs to enhance performance, help people enhance their skills, and identify and organize the required training for their people. Managers address people related issues and take responsibility to enable their teams to achieve performance (rather than redirect their team members to HR, facilities, and other support functions). In other words, line managers become HR managers for their teams.

Given below, in bullet points (we are so used to bullet points :-)), are the benefits seen by organizations implementing People CMM®.

The adoption of the model:

  • drives a “systems” approach to its people related processes and initiatives
  • promotes a long-term thinking in terms of the people
  • increases transparency, democracy and openness
  • builds organizational agility and ability to execute cross-functional projects
  • increases the level of automation
  • makes the organization metrics and data analytics
  • drives a competency culture
  • enables handling of rapid growth and scale
  • makes the HR function become more of a business partner
  • transforms line managers to better people managers

The above is a set of benefits observed in some of the organization that have implemented People CMM®. You may have observed other benefits or long-lasting changes.

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:

Please do share your experiences, comments and feedback by posting a reply/ comment.


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. To get email alerts for new posts, click here to subscribe.

18 thoughts on “Adoption of People CMM® -02: Benefits Experienced”

  1. That is an interesting collection of relevant long-term positive changes in organizational practices. It is my view that these long-term changes have a great, sustainable impact in organization’s engagement with employees as well as business performance. Thanks for the interesting insights

    1. Thanks Shankar,

      The pity is that most organizations need “quick wins” (like reduce cycle time to hire). But most of these quick wins can be achieved without the whole model being implemented – in fact running a Six Sigma project around the problem statement may provide focused and directly measurable benefits (and you don’t even have to read the fat People CMM book!.

      It is through the long-term, sustained changes that the model truly adds value.

  2. Great post.. One on the biggest gains I have been seeing in organizations implementing PCMM practices has been the ability to build a structured leadership chain.

    Through practices of succession, empowerment and decision delegation a structured and formal environment of leadership is built which is far beyond the normal leadership training route.

    1. Hi Chinmay,

      Thanks for reading the post and sharing your perspective.

      I wonder what you think of “white water rafting”, “mountain climbing”, and other adventure sports that are supposed to build leadership and teamwork in sedentary, and usually pot-bellied, and unfit executives. Does it really built teamwork and leadership, or does it just make them slightly fitter physically?

  3. Excellent article!

    Gives me a sort of some feeling that P-CMMi is showing more organic alignment to business conditions than probably CMMI.

    Would be great to see/hear companies speaking on how the benefits have made an impact on reduction of attrition rates, morale of employees and above all, cost savings.

    1. Hi Ramesh,

      Thanks for posting your comment. There are many reports showing impact on attrition, employee engagement, and cost savings available in the Software Engineering Information Repository (SEIR) [https://seir.sei.cmu.edu/seir/].

      The point of the post was that such short term benefits can be done better through focused improvement projects. It is the long-term benefits that are a result of sustained organizational change which the model truly contributes.

  4. PCMM, in my opinion provides better RoI to IT organizations. Including PSP also gives better technical teeth to the delivery capability to them. But, highly enamored with CMMI, many organizations still stick to it and showcase them more…! Time needs to change…!

    1. Hi Ram,

      Most organizations that go for CMMI appraisals do not have a choice in the matter. It is a necessity to survive and grow, because of the way things have played out. A CMMI rating has almost become like a certificate from the local govt department – like the fire department, or the shops and establishments department. And CMMI does play its part in streamlining project management and engineering/ delivery activities. And the certificate also provides confidence to the customers of some bare minimum expected standards.

      So CMMI (or something of the that nature) will stay. I guess that at some point of time in future, CMMI appraisal activities will become normal “business as usual” operations. At that time, organizations can then focus on the next set of improvement initiatives – which could be People CMM.

      My experience shows that after CMMI maturity level 3, it is better to take the organization to People CMM maturity level 3 (before embarking on the CMMI ML5).

      As SEI says “People-Process-Technology” – all three elements need to be balanced for organizational excellence. Focusing only on process (and ignoring the people aspect) may create an organization of semi-robots 🙂

  5. Hi Rajesh

    Good summary of the benefits realised.

    I was really interested in your point – “It is also interesting to note that in the same organization, credit for the same benefits are claimed by other competing initiatives like CMMI® implementation, ISO 9001, Six Sigma, and sometimes by specific improvement projects :-)”.

    Couldn’t agree more !!

    Generally benefits from many initiatives influence overall business outcomes. Given this fact, how have you seen organizations correlating benefits from People initiatives to the direct business outcomes.

    1. Hi Balaji,

      Thank you for visiting. And your comments.

      Regarding your query, the answer is that for very narrow focus initiatives, the benefits are directly linkable (like any Six Sigma project). The problem is related to broad based initiatives like Balanced Scorecard or People CMM®. Can we really say at the end of two years the the company performance has improved because of BSC? Or that company margins have improved because of People CMM®? Though I have seen the champions of each program claiming the credit for all sorts of improvements, I have not seen a reasonably accurate way of correlating improvements to broad based initiatives.

      Please do let us all know if you find something…..

  6. Your posting gives an excellent perspective on “Why PCMM”? and the changes that implementation of this framework brings about in organizations.

    While the phrase “HR should become a strategic partner” is touted in many articles and business magazines, PCMM provides a structured approach to “operationalize” this concept. It essentially provides the “how to” guidance.

    I have heard Business Heads acknowledging that they have observed HR becoming more aligned to Business needs after PCMM implementation. And employees acknowleding that they feel “much better connect” with their Managers.

    1. Prakash,

      Absolutely right. The changes you have mentioned (HR becoming aligned to business and employees connecting better to their managers) have been seen in almost every organization implementing People CMM®.

      Thanks.

  7. Great post.
    * Provides insight to those organization who are contemplating PCMM with benefits accrued due to its implementation.
    * Process oriented methodology for HR to become more objective from currently being subjective.

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