CMMI, Requirements and Institutionalization
In this series on CMMI (capability maturity model integration) and requirements, we have discussed:
- understanding requirements
- commitment to the requirements
- control changes to requirements
- traceability of requirements from detail to scope and back
- inconsistencies, the difference between of what is included and what is being done
The processes above work together and amount to managing the requirements. The degree to which our company consistently does these things in a repeatable way is the degree this approach is institutionalized. Do we skip these steps when in times of duress? Experience suggests this happens more often than we care to admit. If you watch Aircraft Disasters on the Smithsonian Channel (or on Netflix) you will see many of the disasters there are due to skipping process steps that seem innocuous or benign in consequences, only to find out this small alteration in the context of the rest of the system or situation presented is quite disastrous. An episode that stands out is one that involves a project manager, tires and adhering to a schedule at all costs, not knowing what all costs really meant. As an aside, the show is a good source of root-cause analysis training, or at least understanding the real complexity of this work.
I bring this up, because I have had some discussions with project managers lately about deleting processes and steps. Projects can have a variety of situations presented since this is not operations, we do not have a rigid script from which we can work, we may need to adapt. However, that adaptation seemingly frequently includes omission of company defined steps. To be sure checking our brains at the door and blindly follow the process may not always be the best solution. However, do we really know the consequences of the deleted steps? My guess is the project manager from that Aircraft Disasters series that thought the plane must leave on time, and the tires did not need to be more inflated, would not have made that call if he really knew what was at stake by skipping that step. The same is likely true for the many other situations when that option was selected.