Program management office in software factories

Abstract

The achievement of higher levels of software development maturity in big Software Factories is a challenge which demands a holistic approach for dealing with all the main aspects of the maturity evolution: people, processes and technology.

Besides the challenge represented by the organization change, other important aspect of the maturity evolution is its alignment with the strategic objectives of the organization undergoing the change in the long term.

This presentation aims to discuss an integrated approach for driving the change based in the use of the Competence Management framework.

Originally developed for defining the business capabilities needed by an organization to achieve its strategic plan, the Comp. Management framework is normally used for guiding the training, recruiting and orienting the carrier paths of the human resources of an organization.

In this presentation we show an extension of this framework, the IT Competence Management framework, and how this framework can be used for defining objectively the software maturity levels in business terms and guiding all the changes needed in the processes, technology and, mainly, in the organization culture and knowledge.

Through the careful definition of business capabilities that incorporate the concept of software development maturity, it is possible to define objective metrics that assess not only the organization capabilities, but also the knowledge and skills of the organization human capital.

Furthermore, it is also possible to translate this metrics in the form of a balance score card. This strategy not only allows the effective measurement of the organization progress towards its goals, but also guarantees the insertion of the maturity evolution in a broader context, and its alignment with the organization strategic objectives.

The presentation also discuss the results obtained in a brazilian Software Factory of Accenture, with approximately 80 people, in which this strategy inspired the creation of the Projecto Catavento, which is being used for driving the maturity evolution and the development of other business capabilities, that are essential for the success of the Software Factory.

In its first phase of the Project Catavento approximately 35 resources were hired and trained, the roles and responsibilities of all the team members and the processes for planning, tracking, quality assurance and quality control were formally defined. Also, all the tools of the factory were changed and it was created an integrated development environment which guarantees the execution of some processes that are essential for the success of the factory, such as: requirement management, scope management, issue management, earned value management, etc.

Introduction

Software factories are expected to attend their clients according with previously established Service Levels Agreements in a variety of activities that can be as simple as solving a client doubt, fixing a small software defect, or as complex as implementing a large system which will demand the coordinated work of tens or hundreds of people, as it is illustrated in Exhibit 1.

This means, that Software Factories must develop business competences (Exhibit 2) for dealing with small, medium and large projects simultaneously. Furthermore, they must also be able to keep long relationship with their clients and manage efficiently their people, in a way that guarantees that the deliverables are created timely, with the appropriate level of quality and with the lowest possible cost.

In order to be able to face these challenges, the Software Factories must develop many capabilities such as program management office, project management, client relationship, software development, hiring and capacitating people, and other specific capabilities associated with the specialization of the Software Factory.

Software Factory working model

Exhibit 1 – Software Factory working model

Software Factory business competences

Exhibit 2 – Software Factory business competences

IT Competence Management Framework

Competence Management Framework

The Competence Management Framework is normally for guiding the development of the human capital in accordance with the business strategy. The framework is based on the definition of the business competences needed to achieve the strategic objectives and in the creation of a Competence Model, in which the business competences are expressed in terms of abilities, attitudes and knowledge, as it is shown in Exhibit 3.

Competence Management Framework

Exhibit 3 – Competence Management Framework

The Competence Model, see Exhibt 4, also includes a map of the organization positions and corresponding roles, as well as an evaluation criterion for determining the proficiency level of each people in organization each in the constitutive elements of the model (business competence, abilities, attitudes and knowledge) and the proficiency levels expected for each position in the organization.

The basic idea behind the framework is to compare the expected proficiency level for each person, defined according with the roles performed by the person in the organization, with the actual proficiency level demonstrated by the person, that is determined through an evaluation process. The gaps identified in the comparison are then used to define a development plan each one of the members of the organization.

Competence Model

Exhibit 4 – Competence Model

IT Competence Management

The IT Competence Management , Exhibit 5, is an extension of the Competence Management concept in which the Competence Model is used not only for developing the human resources of the organization, but also the other elements needed for capacitating the organization in a given business competence: processes and technology.

IT Competence Management Framework

Exhibit 5 – IT Competence Management Framework

Other important difference is the definition of Business Competence Performance Metrics for the precise evaluation of the development stage of the business competences described in the organization Competence Model.

The Business Competence Metrics are transformed in key performance indexes and grouped in the format of a balance scorecard that is used for driving the organization continuous improvement process.

Because the IT Competence framework does not focus only in the development of the organization human capital, the framework can be used to implement the strategic plan of the organization. Furthermore, the Busines Performance Metrics allow the objective evaluation of the organization proficiency level in the business competences.

Project Catavento

Overview

The CoE is an Accenture development center specialized in the telecom area. Created in January 2000, the CoE has contracts with a few telecom operators for which the center performs application management (evolutive and corrective maintenance) as well as develops new applications (projects).

Due to the very dynamic nature of its operation, the center is always involved in the management of a variety of simultaneous projects of different sizes and complexities. Also, because of the Service Level Agreement established with its clients, the center must be able to have a perfect control of activities, in order provide the adequate service level to each one of its clients.

One of the key competences for the center success is the ability of to have an effective Program Management Office, able to track many simultaneous projects. Besides de Program Management Office, the center must also develop many other competences, as project management, people management, financial management, people capacitating, software development, etc.

The IT Management Competence Framework was used in the center to leverage the software development maturity and align the competences of the center with the Accenture strategic positioning. To this end it was created the Project Catavento, which started at the second semester of 2003 and whose first phase finished at the end of the second semester of 2004.

In accordance with the IT Management framework, the Project Catavento started by the definition of the four Business Competences (see Exhibt 6) that the center needed to achieve Accenture's strategic objectives. After that, the Business Competences were expressed in terms of skills, attitudes and knowledge and a detailed Competence Model was built.

Business Competences - CoE

Exhibit 6 – Business Competences - CoE

The model also included a detailed description of the CoE organization and a mapping between the roles performed by the CoE human resources and the required proficiency levels in each skill, attitude and knowledge.

After the definition of the Competence model, in order to evaluate the progress in the development of the business competence, a set of business competence performance indicators were created to measure the improvements in the business competences.

The business competence metrics involved the creation of key performance index to evaluate the compliance to the internal process, the satisfaction of the main stakeholders, the financial results of the center, the efficiency in the software development, the quality of the deliverables created, the proficiency levels of the team members, etc.

In the next sections we detailed the actions taken in the main focus areas and the results obtained in the first phase of the project.

People development

The main initiatives related with the people development area of focus were:

  1. Definition of the Competence model and evaluation of the CoE team (approximately 80 resources) according with the model. The evaluation was done in phases and consisted in a self-evaluation followed by a discussion with the direct leaders of the results of the self-evaluation in order to define the final proficiency levels. The evaluation of the proficiency levels involved the creation of a specific tool, the training of the whole team about the Competence Management framework.
  2. Orientation of all the team members (approximately 80) and establishment of a development plan for closing the gaps found in the proficiency evaluation
  3. Implementation of some strategic actions (formal training, on the job training, workshops, etc.) to solve the most critical gaps found in the team evaluation. The definition of the strategic actions was done by using the team proficiency map obtained in the evaluation process.
  4. Creation of a special program for hiring and capacitating young professionals, the Accenture Apprentice School, that involved not only the identification of young talents, but also the training of this talent in order to develop the basic proficiency level needed by the center, according with the Competence Model.
People Development

Exhibit 7 – People Development

Process Improvement

The process improvement strategy was based in the Accenture Delivery Methodology that was the base for the definition of the new process and in the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) of software development. This was accomplished by including in the Operational Excellence Business Competence some abilities associated with the Key Process Areas of the CMM model. The development of these abilities was then prioritized to develop initially the abilities associated with the levels 2 and 3 of software development maturity.

Also, in order to make the use of the Accenture Delivery Methodology (ADM) more effective, a mapping between the CMM KPAs and the ADM elements was built, as it is shown in the Exhibit 8.

In the first phase of the project the KPAs associated with planning, tracking, quality, requirement management, configuration management, integrated software management, software engineering and peer reviews were the focus o:

Process Improvement

Exhibit 8 – Process Improvement

Technology Improvement

Two main initiatives were done in the technology area:

1. The development of a new web based tool for the management of defects and requirements.

2. The introduction of the Project Server as the main tool for project management.

Results obtained

Integrated Project Management System

One of the main results of the project was de creation of an Integrated Project Management System, based in the reviewed processes and the new set of tools, as illustrated in the Exhibit 9. The implementation of the new management system involved not only the use of the new tools, but also the new processes and the training of all team in the new work environment.

Integrated Management System

Exhibit 9 – Integrated Management System

Accenture Apprentice School and Competence Management

In the first phase of the project approximately 35 young professionals were hired and trained. After that the program has continued and nowadays it is one of the centers mains source of human resources.

Also, approximately 80 people were evaluated according with the Competence Model and individual development plan were elaborated for each resource in the center. Also, some special training and workshops about feedback, planning and tracking were done, to accelerate the learning process.

Client Satisfaction

We did not observe any significant change in the service levels indicators or in the results of the client satisfaction surveys. This probably happened because this area was, since the creation of the center, the focus of the attention of all the Accenture team.

Internal Process

As shown in the Exhibit 10, we observed a significant improvement in the compliance to the internal process of the CoE. This was measured through the results of internal audits and the definition of a quality index (scale 1 to 10).

Quality Audit Index

Exhibit 10 – Quality Audit Index

Quality and efficiency

As shown in the Exhibits 11 and 12, we also observed a significant improvement in the quality of the deliverables produced and in the efficiency of the software development.

CPI and Team average cost per hour

Exhibit 11 – CPI and Team average cost per hour

Defects in the User Acceptance Test and Warrant Period

Exhibit 12 – Defects in the User Acceptance Test and Warrant Period

Conclusions

We presented a new framework, for the development of business competences in IT related organizations. The framework is an extension of the Competence Management that aims the development of all aspects of a business competence (processes, technology and people) and the objective measurement of the results obtained.

The use of the framework in an Accenture software factory was discussed and the main results obtained were presented.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

© 2005 Edvaldo Bispo
Originally published as part of the 2005 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – Panama City, Panama

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