Last Friday I decided to go to the neighborhood pizzeria for lunch. I was sure of what I wanted to eat, and knew it would cost me around 300 rupees (INR)1. I took my usual place, and was greeted by a grinning waiter. After the standard “how are you, sir?” (someday I plan to actually narrate all my woes, but I was not in the mood to do so on that day :-)), he says, “We have the standard combo meal at a very special price, just 99 rupees.”
“And what can I get in the standard combo meal?” I ask.
“Well you can start with a soft drink, and…,” he says.
“I am not really interested in drinking colored sweet water that is gassed. Skip the combo, let us start with some tomato soup, regular size”.
After the soup arrives, he is ready to get the next dish. “Sir, shall I get the garlic bread?”
“Don’t you know that burnt flour has no nutritional value? Please get me a garden fresh salad instead – a regular portion,” I say.
He goes to check, comes back and says, “Sir, I can do only a small portion of salad instead of the garlic bread.” After some more discussions he agrees to serve a regular portion of the salad. He also says something about reducing the ice cream that comes at the end of the standard combo.
I manage to substitute the pizza with a pasta, and also wrangle a cup of tea instead of the reduced ice cream portion. I get the meal I wanted at 99 rupees (instead of the 300 rupees that I should have spent). Maybe the waiter also achieved something by selling one more “standard combo”.
(In reality the situation was much more complex, since I was with my wife. So the dishes we got should have been mapped to 2 standard combos. In the interest of the reader’s sanity, I have used “blogetic license” to simplify the situation :-)).
A process auditor/ reviewer would have been aghast – this was extreme tailoring (later justified by extreme mapping), violating all principles of reasonableness.
In typical organizations, there are often situations where one set of processes need to be mapped to another set of processes or some framework. Here are some of them:
- A new process standard (or is new version) is adopted and we need to identify the gaps in our processes with respect to the new standard
- Our customers would like to confirm that our processes satisfy some requirements of the customers’ standard
- Our process team wants to make sure that the customer imposed processes still continue to meet the requirements of our standard process, and
- Post an acquisition, we need to prove that our processes do meet our new owner’s standard processes
And it is in some of these contexts that we sometimes find unreasonable distortion- driven by the need to seem conforming while continuing to do something totally different. Over the years, expertise has been built in the industry and there seems to be a community of practice calling themselves X!reme Mappers2:-).
Excessive tailoring, if it is all-pervading in the organization, actually defeats the purpose of having a standardized process, and can prevent an organization from reaching maturity level 4/ 5 of the CMMI®/ People CMM®.
So maybe it is time someone defined limits of reasonable tailoring and mapping.
Any thoughts on how much tailoring is reasonable?
Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:
1- Rupee/ INR is the Indian currency. As per the current exchange rate (Feb 2012), 1 US$ is roughly = 50 Rupees. However, if we factor in the purchasing power in India, the rupee is much more powerful than what is indicated by the exchange rate. For example, in India you could buy 3 Kilograms of ripe bananas for 50 rupees – but one can’t live on bananas alone 🙂
2- X!reme Mappers. According to the Processpedia (Volume 6 draft v23.4), X!reme Mappers is a shadowy guild, and is affiliated to the Society of Dark Process Arts. They can be hired only through word of mouth and have the motto “We can map anything to anything. You continue doing your thing, while we take care of the mapping.” More information on X!reme Mappers can be found in the draft version of Processpedia.