Tag Archives: Rajesh Naik

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 Amazon.com, Amazon.in, and Flipkart .

There has been an animated discussion on the topic in the LinkedIn group called “People CMM” (http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1927506), 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Analytics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The adoption of the model:

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

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

Other related posts uploaded on the same blog:

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


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

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.

Size Does Matter! (for baselines and sub-process control) -Continued

Let us take the example of  examination/ test centers, that run an exam throughout the year, every day. Past one-year data shows – 30% of the candidates pass the exam and 70% fail the exam, all over India.

The Bangalore test center handles around 1000 candidates per month, whereas the Mysore center handles around 100 per month. Over the last one year, both centers have shown the same 30 pass: 70 fail ratio.

For the month of June 2010, one center has reported 38% pass and another has reported 29% pass. Which center (Bangalore or Mysore) is more likely (has a higher probability) to have reported 38%?

Well, Mysore is more likely to have the higher deviation from the average (+8%) than Bangalore (-1%), because Mysore, handling lesser candidates, has a lesser number of opportunities to “average out”. An easy way to figure this out is to take the case of a center that handles only 1 candidate. This center can have either 0% or 100%  pass percentage; a -30% to +70% deviation from the average.

Let us now get back to the process performance baselines that we create and the way we do sub-process control. Here are some things that we need to keep in mind while creating, publishing and using baselines:

1) Baseline (mean and standard deviation) for a sub-process parameter (like coding productivity) will be different depending on whether we consider each the coding phase of each project as a data point, or we consider each program coded in each project as a data point. The standard deviation in the first case (large base) is likely to be smaller than the second case (small base).

2) When we publish performance baseline data, we need to qualify it with the level of detail at which it applies.

3) When we use the baseline data to do sub-process control, it needs to be applied to the same level of detail. So, to do sub-process control on program level coding productivity, we need to use the baseline that was created using programs as data points (not each project as a data point).

4) Baselines need to be created using similar situations of the base data. For example, we cannot combine the coding productivity on large programs with the productivity on small programs. Even if the average/ mean remains the same, the standard deviation will be higher when we take data from a smaller base as against a larger base.

The above points are not just “nits” but have an impact of the usefulness of baselines and sub-process control. Incorrect usage of baselines leads to incorrect displays of process instability / stability.


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.

Size Does Matter! (for baselines and sub-process control)

Here is a small brain-teaser.

Let us take the example of a examination/ test centers, that run an exam throughout the year, every day of the year. Analysis of the past one-year data shows that 30% of the candidates pass the exam and 70% fail the exam, all over India.

The Bangalore test center handles around 1000 candidates per month, whereas the Mysore center handles around 100 per month. Over the last one year, both centers have shown the same 30 pass: 70 fail ratio.

For the month of June 2010, one center has reported 38% pass and another has reported 29% pass. Which center (Bangalore or Mysore) is more likely (has a higher probability) to have reported 38%? Why do you think so?

See my post dated August 3, 2010 for the answer and implications.


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.

Why Can’t Metrics be Used for Performance Appraisals?

While discussing collection and usage of metrics, one often hears an emphatic “We should not use metrics for individual performance management!”. The statement is made as if it is an unquestionable tenant of the religion called process management.

“And pray, why not?” Why should the performance management process be deprived of metrics? A process oriented organization would definitely not like to boast that their performance management system is completely subjective.

Here are some reasons why metrics should be used for individual performance management.

*    An individual performance management (including the appraisal part) needs to be SMART – the “M” stands for measurable.

*    Most individual performance parameters are the similar to and derived from the project, product and process objectives, they typically relate to cycle time, quality (defects), meeting commitments (schedule) and productivity (cost, effort and usage of resources).

*    A strong metrics system, that provides accurate, precise and valid data can support the project, process and individual performance management requirements.

*    Using the same sources of data, we can create a more aligned organization – the individual objectives are aligned to the project, product and process objectives. In this manner, individuals know that meeting their individual goals helps in meeting the other goals (and vice versa); conflict of interest is minimized.

The situations where we may not want to use process/ project metrics for managing individual performance are:

*    The metrics collection system is not stable, and there questions on the credibility of the data. In such a case, the use of the data for managing the project/ process is also diluted.

*    Usage of the data for individual performance management may make the individuals sabotage the process and the accuracy of the metrics. In which case, we need to strengthen the process and make it sabotage proof.

In the old SW-CMM® days, most metrics collection systems were unstable, and hence many experts of that time were pretty insistent on the metrics not being used for performance appraisals – some organizations even have policy level statements for the same!

We have now moved on from the SW-CMM® days for process management, so we need to move on in other aspects too.

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.

People CMM® Appraisal Results now on CMMI Institute Website

People CMM® appraisal results are now published on CMMI Institute (earlier SEI’s website) https://sas.cmmiinstitute.com/pars/pars.aspx

Many organizations have benefited from the implementation of People CMM(R). However, till now, there was no easy way to communicate successful appraisal result to all relevant stakeholders.

Starting 2010, all People CMM® SCAMPISM Class A appraisal results will be published on the PARS website (after appropriate permissions and quality checks).

So, now you have one more reason to pursue and validate your HR related improvements using the People CMM®, the de facto standard for world-class people related processes.

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.