All posts by Rajesh Naik

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!

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:


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.

CMMI® – Constellations, Representations and some food for thought

In presentations, training or orientation sessions on CMMI® the topic of constellations and representations does come up for discussions (even if the presenter wants to avoid it :-)). I have in the past, found that the standard material on these topics has not always helped people understand and remember the concepts. The people, who I believed understood the concepts, surprised me later with a question or a comment that indicated otherwise. Till the time I hit upon an analogy that is easy to understand and easier to remember. And it is related to food.

I will use the example of a restaurant called Celesti-yummiNYTM (the restaurant owner fancies it as trans-galactic gastronomic delight). It has a menu that features three kitchens – food representing three different regions of the universe. One from the Devphinus constellation, another from the Severus constellation and the third from the Aquirius constellation.Restaurant Board

Each constellation (kitchen) serves a set of dishes – Devphinus has 22 dishes, Severus serves 24 dishes and Aquirius presents 22 dishes. These are all listed in Celesti-yummiNYTM menu card. Each kitchen-constellation has also created a recipe booklet that is publicly available, for free (however, fancy, bound versions are priced). People and outer-world aliens can use the recipe books to prepare the dishes, as long as they keep acknowledging the intellectual property and trademark ownership of Celesti-yummiNYTM.

(Digression: There may be another category of sapient beings called “earthly aliens”, since immigration counters in some airports have separate queues for such creatures. When I stand in such queues, I hope to quickly complete the formalities before someone like Ellen Ripley notices me. For more information on Ellen Ripley and how she handles Alien species, see the Wikipedia page here. 🙂 : End of Digression)

Let us now examine the menu card of Celesti-yummiNYTM. As explained before, each kitchen-constellation has a list of dishes (22 to 24 dishes). Each dish comes in three sizes – Small (CL1), Medium (CL2), and Large (CL3). From a kitchen, you may choose any number of the dishes, and specify the size of each dish (small, medium or large). This kind of order, for some reason, is called a “continuous” order by Celesti-yummiNYTM (which many restaurants call as an al-a-carte order), though there is nothing continuous about it.

Dish Sizes

In addition to the 22 to 24 dishes offered in 3 sizes, each kitchen-constellation also offers fixed meals (pre-plated meals or thalis).  There is a mini-meal (ML2), a midi-meal (ML3), a maxi-meal (ML4) and a mega-meal (ML5) that you can order from each kitchen. These fixed meals have a pre-decided set of dishes (a sub-set of the 22 to 24 dishes) at pre-decided sizes, with some very small variations. These fixed meals are called “Staged” meals.

For example, if you order the mini-meal (ML2) from the Devphinus kitchen menu you will get seven dishes, all of the medium (CL2) size. You have no choice in the matter. The only exception is for the dish called “Sammy’s Fav” which you can decline, provided you have a doctor’s certificate that you are allergic to some of the ingredients. You cannot decline any other dish. Nor can you change the size of the dishes if you order a fixed meal. Similarly the midi-meal (ML3) from Devphinus, will contain eighteen dishes, all of the Large (CL3) size. Again, you can decline the dish called Sammy’s Fav, with a doctor’s certificate. The mega-meal (ML5) from Devphinus will see a large platter with all their 22 dishes (and, you can still decline Sammy’s Fav, with appropriate justification).


There are similar fixed meals with minor variations in the other two kitchen-constellations.

One warning – there are dishes with same or similar names offered by the three kitchen-constellations. Some are called “core” dishes and some are called “shared” dishes. Don’t be fooled by the names and the terminology. They taste significantly different (because of the way they are cooked, raw material, and interaction with the other dishes), though they are called by the same/ similar names. For example, the dish called “Risque-Salad” (offered by all the three kitchen and hence called a core dish) will look and taste significantly different, becuase of the ingradients, presentation, and seasoning.


There ends the explanation of constellations, representations (staged/ continuous),  core/shared PAs, ML/CL, etc.

Please feel free to add your variation and flavour to this explanation (use the comment feature)

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:

NYTM– Celesti-yummi is Not Yet Trade Marked 😉

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.

Institutionalization in CMMI® and People CMM®: Converting a practice to a habit

The word “institutionalization” is a mouthful, a tongue twister. If it was a requirement that every employee be able to pronounce word correctly for a successful appraisal result (for CMMI®/ People CMM®), the number of successfully appraised entities would have been far fewer than what they are now :-).

The concept of institutionalization is explicitly embedded in the CMMI® and People CMM® models. In fact, approximately half the practices in every one of the models are dedicated to institutionalization, so it is necessary to internalize this concept to successfully implement the models.

So, what is institutionalization? It is many related things, but the easiest and the most comprehensive explanation is that it is “making a practice into a habit”. Hence, when a practice (like submitting monthly project status reports to all stakeholders by the 5th of every month) becomes a habit with the organization, we can say that the practice is “institutionalized”. Organizations are not born with habits (nor are human beings). So, how do some practices become habits? Or more importantly, what can we do to make certain desirable practices into habits?

Let us use an example at a personal level to understand what we can do to convert a desirable practice into a habit.

Doctor CheckupYou are overweight. You are unfit. You get tired before you climb one flight of stairs. (You get the picture.) Your doctor has advised more exercise (than just using the TV remote). He has been telling this to you for the last few years; you make a New Year resolution every year, which does not last more than a few days. This year your doc has given you some kind of ultimatum “shape up or else!”

ScalesSo, now you not only want to lose those excess kilograms (1 kilogram = approximately 2.2 Pounds, for those who still resist the metric system :-)), but want to make regular exercise a habit. Here is a combination of things that is will increase the probability of regular exercise become a habit.

OathFirstly, as an individual you need to build up a great amount of motivation to achieve fitness. The motivation needs to be higher than your motivation for “one more helping”, “15 minutes more of watchingGym the TV”, etc. You need a deep conviction, an inner resolution, a personal commitment, a personal vision/ policy, an oath to oneself. Something like, “come what may, I will do the required exercises at least 25 days in a month.”

Next, you will have to study the alternatives that are available – should you join a gym? Should you join a batch at the gym, or be on your own? Should you go to the gym in the morning or evening? PlanShould have a different exercise program every day? Should the weekend be different? Based on the initial investigation and thinking, you will make a high level plan.

Let us say, you decide to join a batch of people like you in a neighborhood gym. The batch meets everyResources morning at 6 AM and is led by 2 instructors. Now you need money to enroll in the gym and the program. You will need the right set of clothes and shoes. And many such resources, including time; time to reach the gym, time to do the exercise and time to go back home (or wherever) after the program every day.

ShareTo free you up for the daily gym sessions, new responsibilities will need to be taken up, and existing responsibilities may have to be redistributed. Who will drop the kids to school? Who will wake you up? Who is going to water the plants? Who will wash the car now? If you are going to reach your workplace later by half an hour every day, who will stand in for you for that half an hour? In addition to assigning the responsibilities, you (along with others) will possibly need to rearrange and plan out many other impacted activities.

ProcessLet us get back to the daily gym. The instructors will have a standard process that they have chalked out to for the group. Based on your situation they may tweak the standard to define a tailored process/ program for you.

TrainerThe instructors will be constantly watching, coaching and guiding you to make sure that you don’t overdo it or take it too easy. They will also try to ensure that you don’t hurt yourself. So, they will keep providing you necessary training as you progress.

InventoryOn a regular basis you will have to keep track of some important items related to your daily gym-ing. For example, you need to make sure that you have shoes and sock and tee-shirts and shorts washed at the right time. Your gym membership card/ usage may have to kept safe and updated on a regular basis. Basically, you will need to maintain control of the important items, so that you don’t end up picking up someone else’s gym bag.

InvolveWhen you start and as you progress, various stakeholders will have to be identified and involved to the required degree. For example your spouse/ partner, others at home, the gym instructors, your doctor, and maybe your co-workers.

MonitorYou will have to maintain data of your progress – how much time you spent on the treadmill, when you moved from level 1 of the exercise chart to level 2, how many days you could not attend the gym. You would also be keep track on the impact of the work that you are doing – are you losing weight? Too fast? Too slow? Do you feel energetic? Tired? The basic idea is to collect data to monitor the status and effects and control the actions to achieve better results.

BuddyTo maintain motivation, you could pair up with a buddy in the gym group – where each of you can objectively help the other to maintain adherence to the plan, schedule and actions. In addition to your buddy, the instructors will also be checking out that you are basically following the processes and the plans that have been laid out.

Doctor CheckupOnce in a while, you would be going to your doc and reviewing the status, so that long-term course corrections can be identified (e.g., add a diet program, increase aerobics- reduce weight bearing exercises, etc.).

Process ChangeThe gym staff would collect improvement feedback from the participants to change their equipment, standard programs, etc. For the next batch they may define a slightly different process because of this feedback.

All the bold-and-underlined elements are the likely to prevent you from slipping back to your old ways, and with time, doing exercises every day is likely to become a habit, or “institutionalized” for you.

In a nutshell, here are the 12 elements:

  1. Having a policy/ vision
  2. Creating plans
  3. Mobilizing resources
  4. Assigning responsibilities
  5. Getting the training to develop skills required
  6. Keeping conscious control of key items
  7. Involving various stakeholders
  8. Monitoring the status/ effects and controlling the actions
  9. Keeping an eye on adherence to the process
  10. Having periodic reviews with the key stakeholders
  11. Appropriately adopting a process for a given situation
  12. Collecting information to drive improvements

The analogy used may not directly fit an organizational situation. In the above example, the vision needs to be set by the same person who is taking the action, whereas in an organization, it will be the leadership team that sets the policy and many more people who follow it. Similarly, resources will need to be mobilized by leadership team or some specific groups in the organization, and used by all groups. However, the principles are similar, and if an organization keeps track of the above 12 aspects, there is a high likelihood that whatever is being introduced will quickly become a habit with the organization.

By the way, the word “institutionalization” also means being admitted to a mental institution, but that is not the context we are discussing here, today ;-).

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

Other related 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.

Adoption of People CMM® -03: Why is it Low?

In a previous post titled Adoption of People CMM® – 01: Appraisal Results (Also see People CMM® Appraisals – 2012 Update), we looked at the reported appraisal data and realized that the number of reported appraisals in any given year hovers between five and ten. There may be a few appraisals that are not reported. Even factoring in the unreported appraisals, the number of appraisals is still low.

However, some people argue that number of appraisals is not equal to the number of organizations adopting the model. Many organizations claim to have adopted People CMM® (by Bill Curtis, Bill Hefley, and Sally Miller) without undergoing an appraisal (“we are not interested in certification”, is a common refrain).

Yes, there are a few of such organizations too. And some of them have seriously adopted the model.

But in many such cases, they just pick and choose what is convenient and comfortable and ignore the rest of the model saying “it does not make bussssinessss sense”. The whole exercise ends up with an internally produced document where some of the People CMM® requirements are mapped with the organization’s current practices. Other inconvenient People CMM® practices (that may have been useful) are marked with “not suitable in our context”. This makes the organizations smug (“in principle we are maturity level x”). The fun starts when someone says, “then let us go get our level x”. Then they call in external experts, and realize how far they are from the desired level.

Coming back to the reasons for the low adoption of People CMM®.

TargetThe most important reason is that there is no external pressure, unlike in the case of CMMI® or ISO. Customers normally do not ask vendors whether they are appraised to the People CMM®. Even if an organization does get itself appraised once, there is no pressure for re-appraisals.

The listing of People CMM® on PARS is a good move, as it creates peer pressure.

CommunicateThe lack of awareness of the model is another important reason. Not many people know about the model. The knowledge is restricted to a few folks (process engineers and quality professionals in IT companies) already familiar with the SEI and the CMM® models. Most CEOs and HR heads are totally unaware of it. There is almost no mention of People CMM® in journals like HBR, nor is it discussed in conferences related to Business Excellence or Human Capital Management.

ProgrammerMost people who are aware of the framework mentally tag it as a model for the IT/ SW industry. There is almost no practice in the model that aligns it to any specific industry. Organizations in the banking, hospitality, engineering, and manufacturing have found it as useful as IT companies. (However, the model document also has too many references to the software industry in the first few sections that contain information about the background and genesis of the model – this is likely to have reinforced the perception of its IT centricity. Maybe the authors can do something about it in the next version).

ChampionIn many companies, the current organizational structure does not enable any group in the company to easily take up the initiative – so it is nobody’s baby. It has been repeated multiple times that “it is not a HR model” – this message has unintended consequences – HR is reluctant to take it up as an initiative. But to cross maturity level 2, HR has to take an active part. Process engineering groups will usually not champion for People CMM® because (1) they have other headaches :-(, like CMMI®, ISO 20K, ISO 27K, etc., and (2) they don’t want to intrude into HR territory.

Based on the set of organizations that have implemented the model (known to the writer),  the People CMM® initiative has been taken either by the HR head or the CEO. And CEOs usually have many other things on their plate. We should stop emphasizing “it is not a HR model”.

ExhaustedMost organizations are now perpetually going from one certification (audit/ appraisal/ assessment) to another causing appraisal fatigue – each model has a 1-3 year re-appraisal/ surveillance cycle. Even the thought of picking up another long-term initiative seems to exhaust them. People CMM® is put on the backburner, “to be picked up when we have more time”.

SlowdownRepeated economic slowdowns in the last few years have made companies postpone their People CMM® initiative. Who wants a model to “attract and retain” people when organizations are trying to do “right-sizing” 😉 every two years?

Lack of adoption feeds on itself – the question often asked is “if People CMM® is so great, why haven’t more organizations adopted it? Even after so many years”?

JudgeMany companies fear that the appraisal results may provide fodder for litigation by disgruntled employees (this is true in countries prone to litigations). For example, a finding that, “there is no structured mechanism for handling employee grievances” can be used by litigating employees to strengthen their case against the organization.

{<Start of Digression>: The pre-SCAMPISM version of the People CMM® assessment method had a step for “review by legal” before presenting the final findings. An impasse with the legal team on the wordings of some finding could mean that the assessment was abandoned before the final findings. There is no such explicit requirement in the SCAMPISM method <End of Digression>}.

UncomfortableIn many organizations, HR is uncomfortable with the concepts of process engineering, data analytics and the possible transparency that People CMM® is likely to bring about. HR also lacks program management experience and skills to run long-term, organization-wide programs like People CMM®.

ProtectLarge consulting firms have a vested interest in their clients not implementing People CMM®. Consulting firms have their own proprietary methodologies and tools to implement competency definitions, salary restructuring, right sizing, role rationalization, and so on. They not only set up the framework, but also provide consultants (usually fresh MBAs) for execution. These are huge contracts, and cyclical in nature, locking the client organization perpetually. Implementing People CMM® actually frees up the clients from these huge contracts, as the organization realizes that it can do a better job of the setting up and changing the people related processes (using internal staff), than handing over the job to expensive consultants.

Reading to SleepThe model is not easy reading – it is heavy and legalistic. Most people trying to get an overview of People CMM® find the material sleep-inducing. Here is what one HR Head said “I kept the model next to my bedside a year ago. I try to read it every night, but I am usually fast asleep in less than a page.” While the model book is more like reference material (and hence it is precise, complete, and unambiguous – and rightly so), there isn’t any alternate light reading material available for busy executives (with a short span of attention :-)) to excite them.

Then there are other frivolous reasons stated, like “we desperately want to implement it, but can’t find the model/ book” (huh? – have they tried Googling? Or searching on any online bookstore like Amazon or Flipkart?). Anyways, the model as a pdf document is freely downloadable from the SEI site here.

The print/ paper version of the book is available at,, and Flipkart .

There has been an animated discussion on the topic in the LinkedIn group called “People CMM” (, for those who want to read other views.

So, where do we go from here?

The good news is that it is a great model. And the industry still needs a framework to address people management holistically. People CMM® is still the only comprehensive model available today, and there is no other competing framework.

SEI can lobby with the Government and DoD to adopt the model either for themselves or make it highly desirable (if not mandatory) for their vendors. The initial push helps. This is how many models/ frameworks became widely used, and SEI is best placed to lobby, as it is a DoD establishment.

We need to spread awareness using multiple forums, like conferences, journal, websites, and blogs where CEOs, HR folks and consultants hang out. We also need to do it across a wide range of industries to remove the “IT/SW” tag that the model carries. Talking about People CMM® in SEPG conferences, SPIN forums and LA meets is good, but is not going to take us far. Spreading awareness can be done by anyone who believes that the model is useful – SEI, partners, consultants, LAs and organizations who have benefitted from implementing the model.

We also need to tone down the message “it is not a HR model”. This message often makes the HR folks shy away from heartily taking up the model for implementation. No other organizational group has more at stake than HR, at least at maturity level 2. And without HR providing its wholehearted support, implementation of maturity level 2 process areas is almost impossible.

Finally, SEI can reduce the royalty and annual license fees for People CMM® related services, till the volumes start picking up. This will make the training and appraisal services cheaper to the end users, and make it a little bit easier to gain an entry.

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:

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

SM-SCAMPI is a service mark of Carnegie Mellon University.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Adoption of People CMM® -01: Appraisal Results

The People CMM® (by Bill Curtis, Bill Hefley, and Sally Miller) has been available for more than 15 years. Version 1.0 of the model was released in 1995 and version 2.0 was released in 2001. So, maybe it is time to look at the extent of adoption by the industry and benefits accrued to organizations that have adopted the model.

There are many ways one can evaluate the extent of adoption; one way is to look at the volume of Class-A appraisals done (Class-A appraisals are the only recognized way of getting a maturity level in People CMM®). Earlier, the Class-A appraisals were done using People CMM® Assessment method. This method was replaced with the SCAMPISM-A appraisal method, since 2006-07.

See the latest post at: People CMM® Appraisals – 2014 Update

Without further verbiage, here is the data, in the form of a trend chart:No. of People CMM® Appraisals

Here is the data in a tabular format, with more details:No. of PCMM® Appraisals

Some context on the data above:

  1. Data for the years 2002-2007 is picked up from a presentation titled People Capability Maturity Model: Product Suite Maturity Profile (January 2008) by the People CMM® Team at the SEI.
  2. For the years 2008-2009, there is no officially compiled data easily available – the numbers are extrapolated based on the appraisals done by the most active Lead Appraisers in those years.
  3. The 2010-2011 data is picked up from the Published Appraisal Results website maintained by the CMMI Institute. Some appraisals may be missing from the data, if the appraised entity did not wish to publish the data (some organizations do not like the data to be published, some decline permission because they are embarrassed by the maturity level rating that they have got :-)).

Going back to the graph, there seems to be an alternating trend, every 2-3 years. There is a peak of 10+ appraisals, followed by a dip to around 4-5 appraisals in the next year. Maybe, People CMM® is a seasonal flavour! :-). [Actually the data points are too few to reach any conclusion about trends].

The numbers are not flattering – given that the model has been in the market for so many years, just 4-14 appraisals per year (across the whole wide world) is very low. Not more than 2 Lead Appraisers are required to handle this volume!

Further analysis of the past 15 appraisals (in the last 2 years 3 months) listed in the Published Appraisal Results website (with Filter People CMM® v2.0) maintained by SEI shows the following:

  • Geographic spread: India-8; China-3; Philippines-1; Oman-1; UK-1; Malaysia-1. It is interesting to note that there are no appraisals in the US.
  • Industry spread: IT-8; BPO-3; Banking-1; Utilities-1; Engineering-1. So, not a model “just for software organizations”.
  • Most of the appraisals are led either by Sankararaman Dhandapani or by Rajesh Naik of QAI India Ltd. The last fifteen appraisals are accounted for between four LAs (out of the 13 LAs listed for People CMM® in the SEI Partner Directory).

Hope the trend of low number of appraisals is broken in the coming years.

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:

SM-SCAMPI is a service mark of Carnegie Mellon University.

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.

CMMI® version 1.3 Released

CMMI® Version 1.3, originally scheduled for November 1, 2010, was released a few days before the planned release date. The release converts Development, Services, and Acquisition to version 1.3.

The new model documents can be downloaded as follows:

You can also see a quick summary of the changes at the blog post of August 23, 2010.

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.

What to Expect in the new version of CMMI® for DEV Version 1.3

The first day (17th August 2010)  of SEPG Asia-Pacific 2010 conference covered the changes expected to the CMMI® models, as a part of  release of V1.3. The tutorial was conducted by Mike Phillips of the SEI and was attended by a large group of professionals (mostly from the IT industry).

Here are the key points that I have gathered and my reactions to some of the changes in the DEV model. The detailed presentation can be downloaded from here [Thanks Mike :-)]

A summary of the changes are available in a presentation titled CMMI v1.3 – What’s New on slideshare.

Changes to the Generic Goals and Generic Practices (DEV Model)

1)    Generic goals 4 and 5 have been removed from the models. So, generic goals stop at GG3 for all process areas. [Reaction: Good. The material in GG4 and GG5 was very scanty, and could not be used to implement CL4 and 5 practices]

2)    No significant changes in the intent of generic practices, other than a few changes in the verbiage for a few generic practices (GP 2.6, 2.9 and 3.2) [Reaction: It would have been nice if some generic practices were merged, for example GP2.8 and GP2.10, to reduce the number of generic practices. Maybe in version 1.4 or later :-)]

3)    In the model book (or technical report), the generic goals and generic practices are described just once at the start of the document and are not repeated for each process area  [Reaction: Slimmer book to carry, less trees to be chopped, nice touch]

Changes to the Maturity Level 2 Process Areas (DEV Model)

1)         Requirements Management (REQM) has been shifted to the Project Management category of PAs [Reaction: Makes no difference, except that there are no engineering PAs at maturity level 2. Imagine a maturity level 2 development company saying “we have great management and support practices, but our engineering practices may not be….”]

2)         Supplier Agreement Management (SAM) has been simplified. Two contentious practices of SG2 (erstwhile SP2.2 &amp; 2.3), have been converted to sub-practices of other specific practices [Reaction: These two practices were often a source of grief to many organizations in their appraisal. Fantastic!]

Changes to the Maturity Level 3 Process Areas (DEV Model)

1)         The optional IIPD addition (one goal in OPD and one goal in IPM) has now been converted into specific practices in OPD and IPM (one additional practice each) [Reaction: This is pity, because IPPD has a great value. I would have liked to see more emphasis on IPPD with greater clarity, instead of IPPD becoming 2 practices in the whole of CMMI®]

2)         No other changes, other than changes in the language to bring in more clarity.

Changes to High Maturity Process Areas (DEV Model)

1)         OID has been renamed as Organizational Performance Management (OPM). A new goal has been added to align process improvements to business objectives and process performance data. [Reaction: Was always required. Though the change looks big, most high maturity organizations would already be implementing the requirement of this new goal. However, the new name “Organizational Performance Management” is an overkill and misleading]

2)         Quantitative Project Management (QPM) has been made tighter and the requirements are more explicit. No significant change in the intent of the process area.

3)         Causal Analysis and Resolution (CAR) and Organizational Process Performance (OPP) have undergone some changes in the verbiage, though nothing significant in intent.

Version 1.3 of DEV (along with SVC and ACQ) will be released in November 2010.

SCAMPISM-A appraisals using version 1.2 of the model can be conducted for period of 12 months after the release of version 1.3. Organizations aiming for an appraisal in the later part of 2011 should consider switching to version 1.3 right away.

The SCAMPI-A methodology is also undergoing an upgrade. The SCAMPISM methodology upgrade will be released slightly later. So, organizations could use the current SCAMPISM-A version 1.2 to appraise organizations for CMMI® version 1.3 for some time.

Will try and post about SVC and the expected changes to the appraisal methodology sometime soon.

Also see: CMMI® version 1.3 Released

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.

What is (Project) Success in a High Maturity Organization?

Project success is measured by comparing the actual performance with what was budgeted, planned and committed – typically with respect to parameters of cost, schedule and quality. Projects that meet all parameters are considered completely successful, and those that meet some parameters are considered less successful. Projects that fail in most/ all parameters are labeled as failures. Of course, sophisticated systems may even use the extent to which they missed the objectives (near miss or missed by a mile/ kilometer) as a factor in determining the degree of success or failure.

Is this really how a high maturity (HM) organization (in terms of the CMMI® framework) should evaluate project success? I believe that the refinement in process and project management maturity should be used to fine-tune how we evaluate success.

A HM organization is “aware” that all processes have variations inherent in them. It “knows” that projects (that are composed of the processes) have a probability of achieving success in their objectives, but success is not guaranteed. The role of project management (esp. QPM) is to continually evaluate the probability of success and maximize the conditions to improve that probability.

When a single project goes through its life, those probabilities will play out. Which means that even if the probability of completing the project within its budget was 90%, a single project can overshoot the budget. Of course, if we run similar projects millions of times, only 10% of the projects will overshoot the budget; but we have only one project here. In such an “aware” organization, is the use of “actual budget compliance” a right way to measure success? If so, how is this organization different from a non-HM organization?

I believe that in a HM organization, project success should not be measured by after-the-fact results, but by the rigor and continual alignment of the project to maximize the probability of success. So, in a HM organization, a project is successful, if and only if:

*    The project, at start-up, consciously makes choices (composes the defined process, aligns plans) that maximize the probability of meeting its multiple objectives

*    The project continually evaluates the probability of meeting the objectives and revises its choices to maximize its probability of success

Now, in such an organization, the “best project” award may be given to a project which in the conventional sense has actually failed 🙂 – such an organization would be truly acting on the belief- “if we implement the process, the results will eventually follow”.

Your comments?

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.