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Takeaways from SEPG North America 2011

SEPG 2011 is the world's premiere conference for process groups using CMMI and related improvement technologies.

This year's event was held in Portland (Oregon) and, despite the chill financial climate, nearly 700 attendees were treated to a week of high-quality key notes, tutorials, workshops and technical sessions.

Here is the first installment of a few takeaways from sessions attended by Avoria staff.

Characteristics of successful coaches

The folk from Accenture mentioned what makes coaches successful in their organisation. Look for some of these traits in choosing your coaches - Confident, Enthusiastic (positive), Flexible, Relevant Experience, Adaptable (have multiple approaches), Objective, Creative, Good Listeners, Empathetic, Doers (donít just tell people what to do), Sense of Humour

Estimation for software planning

William Diebler reminded us of four myths of software estimation

  1. We can add staff: On a nominal schedule doubling resources shortens duration by 20% but gives 6 times more defects
  2. There is a way to get precise, valid estimates (right now): Even when we are good, initial estimates are +/- 50%
  3. Reuse (or COTS) will save us: Reuse has a 2x cost factor, steep learning curve and high operating costs
  4. We'll make it up later: Anecdotally, actual completion costs will not improve by more than 10% of the current percentage overrun (and for commercial projects the highest total costs occur when projects run late, so worry less about the extra budget than the longer duration)

Infosys Technologies Limited

Infosys co-founder and board member K. Dinesh talked about the role of quality in the success of this giant outsourcer (127,000+ employees).

  • The cost of quality at Infosys is 25-30%
    [the cost of quality in your organisation may be twice this - ed.]
  • "Culture and process are two sides of the same coin"
  • Infosys spends 3% of its US$1.4b revenues on education (new entrants receive 14-15 weeks of foundation)

Secret sauce for improvement success

Avoria's good friend Hillel Glazer from Entinex supported customer George Zack from McKesson talking about patterns in their successful improvement experiences. Are your patterns helping or hurting?

  • Patterns that Help
  • Leaders and people focused on business objectives and using process improvement to achieve them.
  • Business has a focus on objectives, intensity and drive. Collaboration rules, and there is a lack of ego.
  • Improvement is incremental but continuous.
  • The journey is transparent. People show how they are working and get buy-in. Four or five simple measures.
  • Anti-Patterns that Hurt
  • No clear business objectives. Leaders lost to firefighting. Heros rewarded.
  • Focus on silos, 'us and them'. Customers are despised!
  • Focus on the current crisis. Grasping at the 'diet of the day' (fad tool, SDLC, development method, improvement).
  • Lack of visibility. Gatekeeping.

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