CMMI Training

CMMI - An Executive Perspective

Chris O’Brien speaks to David Havercroft, Group Chief Technology Officer with Telecom NZ, about the implementation of CMMI® (Capability Maturity Model Integration) at Telecom’s Technology and Shared Services group.

Why is your group investing in a CMMI-based improvement programme at this time?

The reasons are two-fold: Firstly, we are responding to the demands of operational separation, new networks, and the increasing complexity and sheer scale that modern operations build into our business. We need a common playbook for our activities to avoid disparate responses that add overhead and burden, and that sometimes prevent us from getting it right first time. Secondly, telecommunications is an industry that’s very competitive, very regulated and very capital intensive. We need to make sure we deliver the best value for every dollar – this wouldn’t be possible without a method like CMMI.

How did you come to choose CMMI as the improvement framework?

I’m relatively agnostic about this sort of thing. I was at IBM where CMMI was the common method used, and my experience with it was good. But it is also a language for improvement that is globally accepted and adopted, so it has history, prominence and a track-record of good experiences from around the world.

What are the greatest challenges for the programme?

There are two key challenges: The first is cultural adoption. A common playbook requires everyone to be on the same page, and this can be hard to achieve in any organisation. The second is that things continue to come at you from business-as-usual, so priorities and resources sometimes need to be reallocated. This had added a little to some of our timings.

What are the implications for your suppliers as you improve using CMMI?

Suppliers are already starting to see greater clarity from us about roles, responsibilities, and how everyone can better ‘play in position’. This is just the more evolved conversation created by CMMI. Of course several of our larger offshore providers already have well established capability based on CMMI, but I genuinely believe that local suppliers should be considering CMMI too. They don’t have to be aiming for the highest levels of maturity, but just start using CMMI for the clarity and discipline it brings to the day-to-day practices. I think it’s inevitable and good for the industry that some of the supplier community will recognise the benefits and go on the journey as well. This is not something to be afraid of.

What were the key factors for gaining Telecom Board support for this initiative?

Well there was already strong support from a couple of board members who were asking why we weren’t using CMMI already to minimise capital leakage and make the very best possible use of money. So there was no shortage of passion and sponsorship for this work at board level.

Few New Zealand organisations are using CMMI - why do you think this is?

I think there’s a perception it’s ‘for the big boys’. I think there are also fears about overhead and worries about relevance. These concerns may be the result of anecdotal stories about high maturity applications of CMMI, but as I’ve said earlier, these are not things to be afraid of. CMMI can make a relevant contribution to enterprises of all sizes when they just start improvement using the framework’s foundational material.

What has been the reaction of the business to the initiative?

The internal customers are very keen to see the impact we can deliver on reduced capital leakage. Of course they have some nervousness because of the perceptions we just talked about - no one wants increased overheads or to slow things down. So our implementation approach has been measured and steady. This is not a short sprint, but a long race, and I am determined to see the improvements become embedded as part of our culture. It is a change, which is always challenging, but we are committed to dealing with concerns as they arise, on an issue by issue basis. I think we are all excited to see what happens as we strap on this work and enjoy the ride.

What message would you have about CMMI for other industry executives and senior managers?

I would actively say embrace it, because if you are a business executive it will create an inevitable improvement to your quality and profits. You have to get past perceptions about overhead; the simple reality is it contributes to an improved bottom line.

About David

David joined the Telecom executive in 2010 and is responsible for the company’s network and IT operations throughout New Zealand, ensuring that its information technology, infrastructure and architecture are aligned with the Group’s business objectives. In addition to the core technology teams, he oversees the shared business operations which provide support Telecom in accounts payable, provisioning, credit and billing, employee services, corporate property and information management.

UK-born, David has more than 25 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry in Europe and Asia Pacific, with previous executive roles in business and technology functions in major telecommunications operators and in professional services and technology organisations.

Learn more about CMMI...

® CMMI is registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office by Carnegie Mellon University

© 2012-2020 Avoria Limited info@avoria.co.nz