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1. Developing a Plan

1. Developing a Plan

Unplanned process improvement is wishful thinking.

—Watts Humphrey [Humphrey89]

We have seen many approaches to improvement since 1989. Two stand out as the most common. With the first approach, teams document the tasks they typically perform during their day-to-day activities. The notion is that if their current practices are documented, they can be shared among the group and the best ones will become “best practices.” When everyone adopts these best practices, the theory goes, the service quality problem will be solved. Unfortunately, the result is often numerous documents that everyone ignores.

With the second approach, a company strides toward the achievement of an improvement framework such as ISO or the Software Engineering Institute services model. This journey takes place in response to a goal stating something like Achieve Maturity Level 3 by December. The primary activity typically consists of forming teams organized around the framework and creating procedures that describe how the company should operate. Because the framework requires that procedures must exist, documenting them appears to be a logical first step and the most direct path to the goal. The decision to adopt an improvement framework is sound, and when used appropriately, it leads to significant improvements. Unfortunately, the result is often a mixture of some benefits, limited adoption, universal frustration, and lots of procedures.


  

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