Improving Processes


Software process improvement

Whether software is developed and maintained by an in-house team or outsourced,the efficiency and productivity of the software development team are significant factors affecting successful IT delivery.

Software Process Improvement (SPI) is an iterative process to deliver change for the betterment of business performance. Relying on input and feedback from all the stakeholders, this means changes to not only the work processes, but also the human perspective, individual behaviour and expectations. The active support of the Senior Management team is essential to the success of any software process improvement programme.

Whichever model is applied, changes to support process technology must be effective, with an internal infrastructure that engages the individuals in the project teams. Change and improvement is a continuous state, and will only deliver results when it is embedded in the organisational culture.

John Kotter's diagram (right) identifies 8 key factors in achieving change.

For organisations where senior management is committed to the delivery of real improvements in software process performance, GIFPA can facilitate the journey. Using GIFPA expertise enables your organisation to identify quick wins, avoid common pitfalls and understand how to manage and measure performance for the delivery of value.

GIFPA has pioneered the application of Lean management principles in aligning software process improvement to the delivery of business value, and has expertise on Agile delivery. Neither of these techniques negate the need for measurement. On the contrary, the effectiveness of a Lean or Agile approach relies on judicious use of measurement for effective management.

Look Before You Leap

While it has been proven that successful practitioners of software process improvement deliver significantly better performance in terms of budget and schedule conformance, productivity and quality than the average software project, it is also true that a significant number of improvement programmes fail to deliver value in the timescale required.

If you are investing in an improvement initiative, it is essential to plan for dealing successfully with the issues which prevent improvement programmes delivering the expected benefits. Calling on GIFPA experience can help you avoid common pitfalls and plan for success.

Download a copy of Tony's Rollo's guide to the pre-requisites for a successful improvement programme.

Improvement Models

Industry Standards such as the SEIsm CMM®/CMMI® ; ISO20000; ITIL; Six Sigma; CoBIT; SPICE; AutoSPICE etc. have evolved to ensure a level of consistency and comparability in software process performance. The models provide a reference. For an organisation to derive business value from adopting any of them, they must be implemented as part of an overall strategy. Process improvement needs to be applied to the whole software lifecycle - this means that in outsourced partnerships, the delivery of a high maturity supplier can be fundamentally compromised by low maturity behaviour in the customer organisation. GIFPA works with in-house teams, or both sides of an outsourced relationship to achieve end-to-end improvement in process performance.

Many of GIFPA’s Principal Consultants have extensive experience of using the CMMI improvement framework. GIFPA’s Managing Director, Grant Rule,  was instrumental in introducing the CMM framework to Europe. We can also provide support for organisations using ITIL or seeking certification/re-certification in ISO20000. Many of the other models (including Six Sigma and Automotive SPICE) are based on the same principles – whatever the model, implementing it is key to achieving the benefits, and this is where GIFPA' extensive, practical, business-focussed experience is most relevant.

These models address difference aspects of the software lifecycle. They are based on the same principles and can be successfully combined for a comprehensive change and improvement programme.

Delivering results

GIFPA has extensive expertise in helping organisations realise the benefits of an improvement programme. We can support the initiation of a process improvement programme so that it is planned from the outset to deliver what your business needs and avoid costly waste. Our goal is to support clients in developing a programme of continuous improvement, maintaining a long-term partnership providing advice, training or mentoring to both process improvement and project teams as needed. We can support all the various frameworks for process modelling.

We do not provide a quick-fix. Achieving the necessary maturity to qualify for any of the industry standards is a complex process. Our consultants are consistently at the forefront of best practice in the tools and techniques of software performance management and our objective, independent approach ensures that the focus is always on delivering the results our clients need.

Best Practice Audit

We will audit your software processes against current Best Practice to identify an implementation plan suited to the needs and business drivers of your organisation. This can be used as the first stage in planning:

  • to initiate an improvement programme.
  • to align existing software processes to best practices.
  • to ensure a change initiative delivers the promised benefits.
  • to evaluate the results of a current improvement programme.
  • to implement improvement without disrupting your day to day business.
  • Value Stream Mapping to make processes lean and agile
  • to maintain an on-going improvement programme

As an alternative to consultancy against a particular model GIFPA can provide expertise, based on a basket of models and industry best practice, in particular process areas. The areas need not align with any particular model but can be defined to suit the improvement objectives of the organisation.

CMMI® Consultancy

The different levels of capability for CMMI® are used to indicate the ability of your organisation to perform software processes successfully, and to provide guidance for process capability improvement. GIFPA was the first to introduce public training in the CMM® to the UK and can provide high-level consultancy, training, assessment and appraisal in the CMMI® v1.2.

How it Works

Key processes and process areas, as applicable to CMMI®, will be rapidly identified by our experienced consultants facilitating clear project management guidelines and a fast and smooth transition to the measurement & analysis stages of improving performance.

Measurement and Analysis

Using clearly defined, tailored, agreed procedures, tools and techniques, our consultants will enable your Project Team to:

  • identify measurement requirements
  • construct a measurement strategy
  • collect meaningful data.

These are factored into forward plans for a continuous process improvement programme.

Project Management and Support

Ideally a project team (in SEIsm terminology an SEPG - Software Engineering Process Group) from your organisation will control the processes and improvement programme. Our consultants can provide the process expertise and training to support both SEPG members and staff.

A Lean and Agile Approach

GIFPA has applied our expertise in partnering organisations to implement change and improvement programmes to develop GIFPA's Lean and Agile Method for Improvement Teams (SLAMit). This approach offers huge benefits in understanding and removes costly waste within software development activities.

How are the services related?

Some form of Capability Assessment can be used to form the organisation's improvement objectives and to measure progress. Various Tools and Techniques may be employed in support of the process improvement activities. For example:

Diagram showing relationships between the process improvment services and with some of the other service categories.

GIFPA Ltd. 2016

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