Practical Solutions for your Software Development Challenges

Making Process Improvement Work

Delivery: 1 or 2-day workshop or onsite coaching

(Onsite or by remote meeting with phone/web)

(Based on our book, Making Process Improvement Work - A Concise Action Guide for Software Managers and Practitioners, and Making Process Improvement Work for Service Organizations.)

Process improvement too often reflects a significant disconnect between theory and practice. This workshop bridges the gap - offering a straightforward, systematic approach to planning, implementing, and monitoring a process improvement program. Participants will be able to apply the workshop's practical ideas immediately to real-life challenges.

With examples based on our extensive experience, this workshop shows how to define goals that directly address the needs of your organization, use improvement models appropriately, and devise a pragmatic action plan. In addition, it reveals valuable strategies for deploying organizational change, and delineates essential metrics for tracking your progress. Class materials provide examples of an action plan, a risk management plan, and a mini-assessment process.


  • Senior manager: If you are the director of a division, you will understand how your group can systematically improve and tie those improvements directly to your business goals.
  • Project or program manager: If you are a project or program manager tasked with developing a specific product, use the workshop to plan, deploy, and track improvements within your team.
  • Process improvement coach: If you are an internal process improvement consultant, quality professional, or team member, apply the techniques taught to coach your group through its improvement journey.

Learning Objectives
Throughout this workshop we guide you in achieving better organizational results. You will understand the critical steps needed to implement lasting and worthwhile change. The workshop will explain how to

  • Scope and develop an improvement plan
  • Identify and prioritize risks and mitigate anticipated difficulties
  • Derive metrics that accurately measure progress toward business goals
  • Sell your improvement program in-house
  • Initially target practitioners and teams most open to new approaches and techniques
  • Stay focused on goals and problems
  • Align the actions of managers and practitioners
  • Delay major policy documents and edicts until solutions have been practiced and tested
  • Use existing resources to speed deployment
  • Incorporate improvement models, such as the CMMISM, into your improvement program

Developing a Plan
On day one you will develop an improvement action plan based on the business goals and problems of your organization. This approach addresses the frustration that many people experience when improvement programs do not relate to the project work being done. You will learn about

  • Setting compelling goals for your improvement program
  • Directing all improvement towards achieving business goals and solving the organization's problems
  • Developing an action plan based on the defined goals and problems
  • Using an improvement model or standard to address the goals and problems
  • Deriving metrics for the goals
  • Identifying potential future problems (risks) with the action plan and mitigating the highest priority risks

Implementing the Plan
On day two we describe techniques for deploying new practices across the organization. These techniques address the problems of resistance, unwieldy solutions, and slow deployment. The central themes in this section are

  • Applying selling strategies to deploy new practices
  • Increasing the speed of deployment by working with the willing and the needy first
  • Reducing the risk of failure by building and deploying solutions in increments
  • Delaying policy document creation and edicts until each solution has been practiced and is well tested
  • Using existing resources to increase the speed of deployment

Checking Progress
On day two we also present techniques for checking the progress of your improvement program and taking corrective actions based on what you learn. Checking progress is an essential activity to provide the organization with feedback when pursuing business goals and solving problems. The resulting data allows for early problem detection, early correction, and improved visibility to management on improvement progress. In this section you'll explore methods for

  • Using metrics to track progress based on defined goals
  • Determining corrective actions needed to get the improvement program back on track
  • Clarifying lessons learned and actions needed to make future executions of the improvement cycle more effective

Using Improvement Models and Standards
Several improvement models and standards exist that can save you much time, such as the CMMI Institute's Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), SPICE, BOOTSTRAP, and ISO9001. These documents incorporate lessons learned from numerous people worldwide who have studied and implemented improvement. If you use them wisely, you can significantly improve your success rate. If you use them academically, you can waste much time. In this workshop, we show how to integrate these resources with your improvement program.

The examples in the workshop include the CMMI framework. If you are using another model or standard, such as SPICE, BOOTSTRAP, or ISO9001, we will help you integrate it into your improvement plan. If you are not using any model or standard, the techniques described will help you develop your own improvement actions to address your organization's issues.




The Process Group principals have experience in conducting workshops for companies in the U.S., U.K., China, Switzerland, Canada, India, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Singapore and Japan. We are certified CMMI appraisal leaders and provide consulting services that enable you to operate your organization more efficiently and profitably. We also offer public speaking engagements that help management and employees understand the various techniques for -- and benefits of -- improving the development process.