Category Archives: Interviews

Interview: Dr Jaideep Devare, MD, MIBL on the People CMM®

Jaideep Devare Photo

Dr Jaideep Devare  is the Managing Director of Mahindra Insurance Brokers Ltd (MIBL).

In this interview, Dr Devare shares MIBL’s experiences, pains, and benefits gained in the transformation carried out at MIBL (website: here), through the People CMM® initiative. MIBL was appraised and rated at maturity level 3 through a SCAMPISM Class A appraisal in Dec 2015 (see details at the CMMI® Institute site, here).

AlignMentor: Congratulations on being the first insurance organization in the world to have been rated at maturity level 3 of the People CMM®. And thank you for agreeing to share your experiences.

Q: Please tell us about your organization – MIBL.

JD: Mahindra Insurance Brokers Limited (MIBL) is a subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services Limited (MMFSL). We have a Composite Broking License, which enables us to operate as a Direct as well as a Reinsurance broker in India. We are one of the few insurance broking companies in India to have been awarded the ISO 9001:2008 certification. Now, we are the world’s first organization in the insurance sector to achieve People CMM® maturity level 3, reflecting our quest for excellence.

MIBL is committed to providing value to its customers by understanding their insurance needs and risk profile, and providing innovative, cost-effective, customized solutions to ensure total customer satisfaction. MIBL represents the interests of the customer, and acts as an intermediary between the customer and the insurance company. MIBL’s role encompasses various activities right from risk profiling to claims administration for customers. MIBL coordinates with the insurers and re-insurers to get the best deal and the most ideal risk protection cover for our customers.
As on today, our insurance solutions have reached out to over 150,000 villages across India, and have serviced over 6 million cases in the rural and semi-urban markets. Our presence in many locations across various states in India gives us extra mileage to serve our customers in markets that are under-penetrated and under-served.
Our company’s long-term vision is: “To be the first Indian company amongst the Global Top 100 Insurance Brokers in revenue by 2020”.

Q: Please tell us why and how and why you decided to adopt the People CMM® model. And please share some experiences of your People CMM® journey.

JD: In the last eleven years, MIBL in India has organically grown from 50 to 750 employees. As the organization grows, maintaining employee experiences, building and sustaining employee engagement requires focused efforts and disciplined practices that are consistently and fairly executed across the organization to continuously engage and inspire people. We believe that happy and engaged employees provide the best of services to our customers.

We take pride in the strong culture we have developed since day 1; this culture being one of our strengths. Our core values and the Mahindra ‘Rise’ pillars inspire us to focus on customer delight, quality service, challenging conventional thinking, accepting no limits, and driving positive change. However, over time, we came to realize that we needed something more if we were to gain an edge in the over-competitive market. In terms of human capital, this meant an increase in our employee engagement, control over attrition, and higher momentum on customer-centricity.

We asked ourselves 3 key questions, for which we had to find relevant answers:

  1. How successful is our business today?
  2. How can our human capital develop personally as well as contribute to the growth of our organization?
  3. How ready are we for the future?

As we are into a people-centric and knowledge-intensive business, the role of human resources is crucial to the success of our company.

To keep up with the wave of digitization and globalization, we felt, we would need to focus on cultural transformation, building organization capabilities for future business growth, creating robust HR process delivery models, and driving HR process excellence. These thoughts provided an impetus to synergize people, process, technology and culture, and that’s how we thought of embarking on the PCMM® journey.

Q: There is a feeling that the People CMM® is applicable only for IT companies. Yours is an insurance organization – what is your impression now that you have implemented a part of the People CMM®?

JD: We understand that IT companies were the early adopters of People CMM®. The robust people practices enabled them to attract, engage, and retain employees, especially Generation Y, the Millennials.

In my opinion, PCMM® can be beneficial to any organization which is people, quality and customer-focused. Any organization serious about business performance, people development, and organization strategy and goal alignment, should adopt this model. I believe that organizations have limited growth not so much because of ineffectual business strategy, but more because of a cultural impediment due to which employees get negatively impacted, and are unable to give of their best. If this hypothesis is true, then people play an important role and act as catalysts for growth. Any business strategy may not work if the people and culture do not support progress.

So, people-focus can serve as a competitive advantage for any organization. The PCMM® model is helping us in such a cultural transformation, and can help any organization, irrespective of the industry segment.

Q: What were the key benefits that you expected and realized in implementing the People CMM®?

JD: Some of the challenges in the financial/ insurance sector are high employee attrition and low employee engagement levels. We expected to improve our employee engagement and to reduce attrition levels. Our larger objective was to align HR with business strategies and drive excellence in HR processes to achieve our Vision. We have started realizing great benefits in our journey over the last 15 months.

A few of these are: a) Improved employee engagement scores b) Reduced Attrition levels c) Significant improvement in transparency and effectiveness of our internal communication channels, which have further enhanced our trust Index levels d) A robust competency framework aligned to our various people practices e) Better execution of strategic business projects at a faster pace now.
Holistically, we have improved in our agility, responsiveness and customer-focus across the organization.

Q: Please share some of the challenges that you faced in the implementation of the model @ MIBL.

JD: Ensuring inclusivity was a challenge as our employees are spread across India in over lots of locations, servicing customers in the rural and semi-urban markets. It becomes difficult for the HR team and people managers to be in regular, direct touch with them. We utilized the power of technology as an effective mode of communication in order to reach our employees across the country.

Also, as this is a cultural transformation process, initially we experienced a little resistance from some, but we were able to overcome this, as our employees were already aligned with our aspirational Vision 2020, “To be the first Indian company amongst the Global Top 100 Insurance Brokers in revenue by 2020”.

Leadership involvement and “walk the talk” played an important role in overcoming such resistance. Various sensitization programs, reinforcement of company’s Vision, enhanced communication channels worked well to overcome such challenges.

Q: What are the other models/ frameworks that your organization has adopted? 

JD: Internally, we have our Group’s unique ‘The Mahindra Way’ (TMW) model in place, which is based on TQM. I would say the PCMM® model complemented the TMW model, and we hope to move to the next level in our TMW assessment later this year.

As mentioned earlier, we are also aligned to ISO 9001:2008.

Q: Now that you are maturity Level 3, will you be pursuing higher maturity levels of the People CMM®?

JD: Yes, we have already embarked on our PCMM® maturity level 4/5 journey, and our team is energized to implement various processes such as knowledge management, mentoring, empowerment, data analytics based business decision-making, and continuous innovation.

Institutionalization of various processes and initiatives are very important to reap business benefits in the long run, and therefore we have planned the implementation phase over a 2-3 year horizon.
Jaideep Devare with teamThank you Dr Devare, for your time and sharing your thoughts. And wish you and MIBL all the best!

Dr Jaideep Devare  is the Managing Director of Mahindra Insurance Brokers Ltd (MIBL).

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel feel to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the interviewer or the interviewee :-).

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.

Interview: Shri RG Rajan, CMD, RCF on the People CMM®

RG Rajan Photo

Mr RG Rajan is the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) at RCF (Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Limited).
In this interview, Mr Rajan shares RCF’s experiences in implementing the People CMM® and benefits that RCF (website: gained in the journey.  RCF was appraised and rated at maturity level 2 through a SCAMPISM Class A appraisal in Jan 2015 (see details of the appraisal listed here.

Q: Please tell us about your organization – RCF.

CMD: Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Ltd. is a leading Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) in India, and is engaged for the past five decades in the production of various fertilizers and industrial chemicals at Chembur (Mumbai) and Thal (Raigad district, Maharashtra). We market these products all over India. We have also been in the forefront of the ‘Green Revolution’ in India and have been serving the farmers of the country for several decades.

RCF is certified to ISO 9001:2008, ISO 14001:2004, and OHSAS 18001:2007.

Our greatest asset is our committed workforce of over 4000 employees. We have taken various initiatives involving employees – these include Quality Circles, Kaizen and Five-S. We conduct ‘Organizational Climate and Employee Satisfaction Surveys’ and also participate in the ‘Best Companies to Work for’ studies conducted by organizations such as ‘Great Place to Work Institute’.

Q: Please tell us about your decision on adopting the People CMM® model. And about your People CMM® journey.

CMD: In 2012, we found that BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited) had adopted the People CMM® for their HR processes – this prompted us to assess the feasibility of adopting this model for RCF.

We understood the concept and the framework of the People CMM® by interacting with various experts and services providers in India.

To get the maximum benefit, we decided to cover the entire organization under the People CMM®. We undertook a SCAMPISM Class-C to find out where we stand, and identify the gaps in our processes. We worked hard to close the gaps identified. Then we performed a SCAMPISM Class-B to assess our readiness for a formal appraisal, before being appraised using the SCAMPISM Class-A method.

Internally, a project team of around thirty officials from HR and HRD was formed with the Executive Director (HR), Shri P G Deshpande being the Sponsor. This project team drove the project with assistance from external experts.

We ensured that all required resources were made available for the successful progress and completion of this project.

Q: There is a feeling that the People CMM® is applicable only for IT companies. Yours is a manufacturing organization – what is your impression now that you have implemented a part of the People CMM®?

CMD: The People CMM® is generic in nature and I can confidently say that it is independent of factors such as geography, sector or industry.

Q: What is your message to other public sector companies in India regarding the People CMM®?

CMD: All PSUs can definitely gain by implementing the People CMM®.

And we at RCF are more than ready to help other PSU organizations.

We have requested SCOPE (Standing Conference of Public Enterprises) to organize a session of HR heads of various PSUs where we can share our experience of People CMM® rollout. This will facilitate the PSUs to understand the immense benefits of People CMM®. It will also help them address any misgivings they may have about using the model in a PSU.

Q: What are the key benefits that RCF has started realizing as a result of implementing the People CMM®?

CMD: Often, the perception of the employees is not in congruence with the intent and hard work put in by support departments like HR and HRD. We were looking out for some method through which HR is seen to be contributing as a Business Partner. The People CMM® helped us achieve this. One of the results of implementing the People CMM® that gladdens me most is that now people perceive that ‘HR has come closer to employees’.

Tracking of many of the people related requests, complaints, and transactions, such as quarter allotments, repair of facilities, status of claims of reimbursements, etc. have been upgraded through a computerized help desk during the People CMM® journey.

Formal systems of listening to employee voices through periodical surveys of services such as canteen, hospital, etc. have been institutionalized.

We have shifted from a ‘performance appraisal system’ to a ‘performance management system’ wherein constant feedback is being given to employees about their performance and the line managers have been trained to impart performance counseling in situations where required.

HR has started connecting with employees on a regular basis using a forum called ‘HR, aap ke dwaar’.

Q: Now that you are maturity level 2, will you be pursuing higher maturity levels?

CMD: Having experienced the immense benefits of maturity level 2, our HR professionals are now aiming to reach higher levels of maturity of the People CMM®. In addition to imparting delight to the employees, People CMM® is also adding to their professional competencies.

I am sure that within next seven to eight years we will reach maturity level 5 of the model.


Thank you Mr Rajan, for your time and sharing your thoughts. And wish you and RCF all the best!

Mr RG Rajan is the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) at RCF (Rashtriya Chemicals and Fertilizers Limited).

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel feel to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the interviewer or the interviewee :-).

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.

Interview: Vinod Sood of Hughes Systique on the People CMM® as a workforce improvement framework

Vinod Sood Photo 1

Vinod Sood (VS)  is the Managing Director at Hughes Systique. In this interview, he shares why his organization selected the People CMM® for the next organizational transformation. He also articulates the expectations from implementing the People CMM® at HSC.

Q: Please tell us something about your organization, Hughes Systique.

VS: Hughes Systique Corporation (HSC), a part of the Hughes group of companies, is headquartered in Rockville Maryland with its Global R&D and Delivery center in Gurgaon, India. HSC is a leading provider of technology services (Engineering R&D services and Outsourced Product Development)  in the communications, embedded and media domain (more details at HSC counts Tier 1 OEMs, ISVs, and Hi-Tech & emerging technology companies as its customers worldwide. HSC has offices in India, USA, UK and South Korea.

HSC has already been appraised for CMMI® – DEV at maturity level 5. It is also certified for ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 27001:2005 (ISMS).

We have 400 employees, majority of them working out of our Gurgaon office.

Q: Please tell us why and how you decided on adopting the People CMM® model.

VS: We at HSC believe that balanced improvements equally focused on “People”, “Process” and “Technology” are a sure-shot recipe for long-term sustained success. With that intent we have invested heavily in these 3 areas since our inception.

Through our BMS (Business Management System) and the certification against ISO 9001, and ISO 27001 and rating of maturity level 5 against the CMMI® -DEV we have largely addressed the “Process” part.

On the “Technology” front, we have evaluated and deployed many tools that help us with various aspects of software development and project management (e.g., configuration management, code quality, open source compliance, continuous integration, program management, project metrics analysis, internal audits, and customer satisfaction surveys).

On the “People” front, our processes are very progressive and people friendly. We realized that they can be taken many notches higher and we need to enhance their effectiveness and ensure higher consistency in their application across the organization.  After a series of discussions with internal stakeholders and external experts, we eventually decided to adopt People CMM®.

Q: Where are you at present in your People CMM® Journey? And what all have you done to get People CMM® started at Hughes Systique?

VS: Well, we are making steady progress at this point.  In Q3’2012, after the initial due diligence we put the roadmap and plan in place. Our HR and Quality team performed an initial gap analysis, and came up with an action plan. After that, we had a formal kick-off with all relevant stakeholders and formed task forces to handle various focused improvements. Then an external partner was engaged to help us through the journey. A detailed gap analysis was carried out by the external partner in Q4’2012 (Shyama Chakraborty of QAI). Currently, we are working on incorporating the suggested improvements and closing the gaps.

Q: What are the goals you hope to achieve by implementing People CMM®?

VS: We are in a people-centric and knowledge-intensive industry. The business parameters we will focus on are utilization (which depends on attrition rate and time to ramp up new hires) and gross margin (which depends on competency and cost of resources). It should also help us improve hiring, training, employee engagement, etc. The People CMM® model will calibrate our existing people practices against best-in-class practices prevalent in the industry.

Q: Please tell us something about the timeframes planned (in relation to the People CMM® journey)

VS: Our goal is to eventually deploy maturity level 5 practices and get a formal rating by end of 2015, with an interim milestone of a formal maturity level 3 in the early part of 2014.

Q: Who will be driving the PCMM journey in Hughes Systique?

VS: The coordination of the overall roadmap, interim implementation reviews and appraisals would be driven by our Quality group.  Quality will also facilitate HR in process definition and deployment. A Steering Group comprising our senior executives provides oversight on the progress.

Changes to existing processes and their deployment internally will be driven by HR via various task forces. The task forces would work on specific areas while collaborating with each other.

Q: How would you compare People CMM® with any other HR model/methodology that you have experienced in the past?

VS: According to our HR Head Rohit Sahu: “We are still learning, but based on what we have been able to understand, People CMM® provides a balanced and staged approach to improving people practices. I think this model has its bearing in many sound concepts underpinning Human Capital Management (HCM), Organizational Development (OD), Industrial Psychology and HR Analytics.”

Q: Would a People CMM® appraisal status matter for the industry that you are operating in?

VS: At present none of our customers ask for it. But this could definitely be a differentiator that we could project to our customers. Due to high attrition in the IT industry, strong people practices assure our customers business continuity and fulfillment of delivery commitments.

It should also help us in our endeavor to make HSC the 1st choice for aspiring Telecom Software Professionals.

Q: Is there anything youVinod Sood Photo 2 would like to tell/ convey to the readers?

VS: We are looking forward to People CMM® as an enabler to further mature our internal people practices and provide some of the business benefits I spoke about earlier. As they say well begun is half done. We have started on a strong footing and I am confident we will learn and mature ourselves, both as individuals and as an organization.

Thank you Vinod, for your time and sharing your thoughts. We hope you can provide us updates to your progress in some months.

Vinod Sood (VS)  is the Managing Director at Hughes Systique. His LinkedIn page is here.

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:

Please feel feel to share your views, experiences or queries, using the “comments” feature available.

Nothing Official About It! – The views presented above are in no manner reflective of the official views of any organization, community, group, institute, or association. They may not even be the official views of the interviewer or the interviewee :-).

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: D Sankararaman – a Consultant-cum-LA’s view of People CMM®

Shankar Photo 1Sankararaman D (Shankar for short) is a consultant and trainer on project management, operational and HR process improvement. He works for QAI. He has published articles and has been an invited speaker at many conferences and institutes. In this interview, Shankar shares his experiences on People CMM®, as a consultant and a lead appraiser for the model.

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

A:    I have a chequered journey in terms of studies as well as my jobs. The net outcome of the journey is that I am an engineering graduate and a management student. I have worked in MIS, EDP, Software Development, Pre-sales, support, Software Quality roles before landing up in a consulting career. Most of what has happened to me in my professional career has happened by accident rather than by design. And I have been happy with these accidents .

Q:    What kind of work do you do?

A:    I work with various organizations helping them improve their processes. I also train people on various topics like estimation, project management, and process management. I am a lead appraiser. This means that I am a “level maniac” who goes around attempting to stamp every organization with anything from level -10 to level 42.

Q:    Please let us know the industries for which you have done People CMM® appraisals

A:    I have done for the “usual” suspects 🙂 – IT organizations and BPO organizations. Additionally, I have also been involved in appraisals for Banks, Consulting organizations, and R & D organizations as well. Other than appraisals, I have also done training and consulting with firms in domains like insurance.

Q:    Is the pressure on the “certification” aspect as high in People CMM® as in CMMI®?

A:     No and Yes. First, let me clarify the “No” part. Fortunately, no client or RFP or RFT insists that an organization should be People CMM® “certified” by a particular date. As a consequence, we seldom come across organizations trying to use 10 cars travelling parallel at 100 kms to reach a 1000 km destination in 1 hour. Companies that pursue People CMM® appraisals do it driven mainly by internal triggers and the value of People CMM® perceived by them.
Coming to the “Yes” part of the response. There are a few times, when organizations chase their internal deadlines. In my view, this may not be completely bad. If organizations don’t have a target, then they risk never accomplishing anything. With a target, there tends to be frantic activity closer to the target date. But, that is better than doing nothing.

Q:    Most organization either aim for ML 3 or ML 5 (very rarely ML 2 or ML 4). What are the reasons? And what do you advice?

A:    I believe there is a long legacy and more of informal convention to this rather than a logical basis. The advice depends on the organization’s situation and needs. If one is looking for early results and to achieve some milestones to build momentum, then the organization should undergo a formal appraisal for ML 2.
Organizations that have a strong record of basic HR practices and have validated the same with respect to the People CMM® can pursue an initial roadmap for ML3.
In any case, organizations should ensure that they have implemented, institutionalized, and validated their ML 3 implementation through a formal appraisal before pursuing ML 4 and ML 5.

Regarding ML 4 and ML 5, it is extremely important that organizations have absolute clarity on why they are pursuing the higher levels.  The quantum of the delivery organization / business organization’s involvement in ML 4 and ML 5 goes up manifold. So, CXO level commitment is critical as well.
Organizations that are for the first time journey crossing ML3 should seriously consider completing a ML 4 appraisal before pursuing a ML 5 journey.

Q:    Do you find that organizations get lasting benefits on implementing People CMM®?

A:     Your question is almost like asking “Do you get lasting benefits from the library in your house?” or even worse “Do you get lasting benefits from the gym that you are a member of?” Obviously, it depends on what I do in the library (read, sleep, gossip, gamble, ….) or in the gym (visit a fast food joint after a brief chat session in the gym!). Similarly, it depends significantly on how the organizations approach the implementation of People CMM®. I have seen a number of organizations who have a sustained focus on HR process implementation and they have seen lasting benefits.

To restate this discussion, Can lasting benefits be obtained by organizations through People CMM®? Without doubt, Yes.

Does it depend on People CMM® or the organization? It depends more on the organization rather than on People CMM®.

Q:    Are the benefits higher on implementing ML3 or on implementing ML5?

A:    I would say that the correct question should be “Are the benefits higher on implementing ML3 alone or when we implement ML3 and ML 5. The definitive part is that there are lasting benefits to be had by implementing ML3 in a well institutionalized manner.

The incremental benefits of implementing ML 4 and ML5 require certain pre-requisites. Some of these include: What is the organizational size? Very small organizations may not gain substantially from implementing all the higher maturity practices of People CMM®. In fact, they may face challenges in implementing higher maturity practices effectively. How stable or challenging is the organization’s business situation? Another pre-requisite for harvesting the benefits of ML4 and ML5 is involvement from the business / delivery organization including the executive management. Also, organizations with a strong culture of management using quantitative data for decision making are likely to benefit more by implementing ML4 and ML5.

Q:    What kind of organizations should go for a ML3 appraisal?

A:    In my view, any organization that is serious about its employees and their relevance to the business should implement at least till ML3. It is a different question as to whether they should undergo a formal appraisal. It does help when organizations have first imbibed a basic process culture through implementation of ISO 9001 and / or CMMI ML3. These help faster adoption of People CMM® and that in turn helps sustain these other standards and models.

Q:    What kind of organizations should go for ML5? Shankar Photo2

A:     There are multiple aspects to consider. Any organization with a serious focus on their business performance, employee skills and alignment can benefit from the key themes of  ML4 and ML5 viz.,. aspects like knowledge management, mentoring, and controlled improvement of HR practices.

To implement ML4 and ML5 effectively, I would premise that these organizations have collected data for a long period; they have sustained their competency based practices over several cycles; they are reasonably large (headcount more than 1000 employees) for them to adapt pattern (data) driven decision making and benefit from the same.

Q:    What is the benefit in taking a target level and doing a SCAMPI-A for People CMM®? Why can’t we ignore the formal appraisal and just implement the mode? What will they lose? They will save some time and money and annoying interactions with the LA :-).

A:     I have worked with three variants of organizations. Organizations that have just implemented the model, and not done a formal appraisal. Organizations that have implemented the model and have undergone a semi-formal appraisal like a SCAMPI B. And of course, organizations that have culminated their journey with a formal SCAMPI A and a maturity level.

Curiously enough, we have observed the extent of institutionalization has been strongest in organizations who have culminated their journey in a formal SCAMPI A. May be it is just that organizations who pursue a formal maturity level implement their processes more rigorously than those who don’t.

If the leadership focus and internal intent is there, organizations might as well not go for the formal appraisal. It is just that the data till date indicates otherwise.

Q:    Are there any process areas in People CMM® that are just not worth the effort, as you have observed in many organizations? And these are implemented only for the sake of the appraisal?

A:     In my personal opinion, there are certain parts of People CMM® that are not effectively appreciated in implementation. These include important themes like delegation of authority covered in a process area called Participatory Culture.

There is also the process area called Workgroup Development, and this a subject to various interpretations.

There is a case for looking at re-presenting these process areas and themes in alternate ways for effective understanding and implementation by the user community.

The other perception that we have heard from many of the users is that it is heavy in terms of the language and phrases used. And there are people who have opined that certain themes like communication and coordination have been repeated multiple times in model.

In a sense, there may be an opportunity to simplify the model and make it more compact as well.

Q:    The SCAMPI methodology was created with CMMI® in mind. Is it suitable for People CMM®? Which aspects of the appraisal method are out of sync with the model in your experience?

A: The current version of the SCAMPI method (SCAMPI 1.3) was developed / refined keeping in mind all the constellations of CMMI® as well as People CMM®. So, it is as suitable for People CMM® as it is for CMMI® constellations.

The method also provides the lead appraiser and the sponsor several tailoring options. So, it is up to the lead appraiser to suitably leverage the method and adhere to the method to perform an effective appraisal. In my experience, I have not come across any significant aspects that I would as unsuitable.

Shankar Photo 3Q:    Could you tell us about other frameworks / models in the similar area? How good are they?

A:    The other frameworks that we have come across include concepts like “Investor in People” and Human Resource Excellence Framework. The aspects where People CMM® scores compared to these models and concepts are in terms of adopting a systems approach, promoting institutionalization, and emphasizing on a competency driven approach as a fulcrum for people management

Shankar is a Consulting Partner with QAI where he leads the People CMM® Practice. He may be contacted at or His linkedin profile is here.

Thank you, Shankar, for sharing these useful insights.

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:


The views presented above represent the personal views of D Sankararaman and are in no manner reflective of the official views of QAI, SEI, 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.

Interview: Ajay Prabhu (COO) and Sonia Kutty (GM-HR) of QuEST share their experience of implementing People CMM® in an engineering organization

Ajay Prabhu (AP) is the Chief Operating Officer and Sonia Kutty (SK)  is  General Manager – Human Resources  at QuEST. In this interview, they share their experiences in the transformation brought about at QuEST, through the People CMM® initiative.

QuEST (OBU – India, Bangalore) was appraised and rated at maturity level 3 of the People CMM® in June 2012, using the SCAMPI-A (v1.2) appraisal methodology. Read more details here.

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

Ajay Photo 1Ajay Prabhu (AP):            Oh well, it started off with a flight from Bombay-to-Boston back in 1990. After graduating from National Institute of Technology, I joined a Masters program in the University of Massachusetts. Seven memorable and intellectually-enriching years later, I graduated with a PhD in high frequency electronics and joined Hewlett Packard in Sonoma County, California. Unlike most others with a PhD, I joined the manufacturing part of HP’s Test & Measurement Division. It was a great experience, going from a research environment to the hustle and bustle of the manufacturing floor. After a couple of years into the job, HP divested our division into an independent company – Agilent Technologies. It was an exhilarating time when the company was transforming; I too transformed alongside. In 2002, I decided to move back to India and have been with QuEST ever since. I have had a fantastic journey while learning and contributing to QuEST’s transformation from a small 200 people company to 4000 people fast-growing global enterprise.Sonia Photo 1

Sonia Kutty (SK):              Well, you could say I am a thoroughbred “Questian” since a major part of my career has been with QuEST. When I joined QuEST way back in 2002 we were a small company with 300 employees or so. Today we touch 4000 and it has been a tremendous journey.

Prior to QuEST, I worked with Toyota Kirloskar Motors in the Human Resource Planning Department.

Q:           Please tell us something about your organization, QuEST.

AP:         QuEST is indeed a nice story. Started by college graduates, who spotted an opportunity to build a business around better ‘customer focus’. This central theme has been the mainstay of QuEST growth since inception in 1997 in New York, USA.

The company was an early adopter of offshoring of Engineering Services when QuEST set up its India presence in 1998. QuEST is ‘Born to Engineer’; we are completely focused on providing engineering services to a  few marquee customers in Power Generation, Oil & Gas, Aerospace, Transport and Industrial verticals. QuEST is busy bringing engineers of many nationalities to work together as one seamless team to bring unprecedented value to our customers –  “Great quality at competitive pricing”. Today, QuEST employs close to 1000 American, 250 English, 250 Spanish, 100 Australian, 100 Italian and 2300 Indians working out of 29 different cities spread across the world. QuEST is a truly global engineering company. We have been doubling our staff every 24 months for quite a few years now.

Read the full post here

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.

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.