Your team members are already swamped with their current project assignments, but if you want the group to rise to a higher plane of software engineering capability, you’ll have to invest some time in process improvement [Wiegers, 1999]. Set aside some time from your project schedule, because software project activities should include making process changes that will help your next project be even more successful. Don’t allocate 100 percent of your team members’ available time to project tasks and then wonder why they don’t make any progress on the improvement initiatives. Some process changes can begin to pay off immediately, whereas you won’t reap the full return on your investment in other improvements until the next project. View process improvement as a strategic investment in the sustained effectiveness of your development organization. I liken process improvement to highway construction: it slows everyone down a little bit for a time, but after the work is done, the road is a lot smoother and the throughput greater.
Adapted from “Practical Project Initiation: A Handbook with Tools” (Microsoft Press, 2007). A condensed version of this paper was published in Software Development magazine.
Karl Wiegers, Ph.D., is Principal Consultant with Process Impact, a software process consulting and education company in Portland, Oregon. Karl’s most recent book is “Practical Project Initiation: A Handbook with Tools.” Karl is also the author of four other books and 170 articles. Karl is a frequent speaker at software conferences and professional society meetings. You can reach Karl through www.projectinitiation.com or www.processimpact.com.