At Indus Net Technologies, we have been internally discussing about implementing a more software specific Quality Management system (QMS) since 2004. Capability Maturity Model (CMM) from Software Engineering Institute (SEI) of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) was on top of our mind as this is a standard quality process followed by all the top offshore service providers.
We started talking to several consultants who can help us in process improvement in a way that it helps us in delivering better quality software to our clients and also benefit Indus Net Technologies by bringing about a much more disciplined way of writing software.
The first thing was to allocate a budget for the whole initiative. If you go by book, it sounds like a big investment because most of the consultancies quoted us around $20K to $35K for their services. However, on closer examination it was clear that the actual cost of “unaccounted” expenses that are supposed to go behind the scene is at least 3-4 times of the consulting fees. And the best part of it is that majority of the expense is an ongoing expense.
It soon became clear that we cannot move in this direction unless we have a set allocated budget of our annual revenue (which we cannot compromise under any circumstances) to go towards our quality management processes, the whole effort will be futile and will not evolve as we expect. The biggest challenge was to make sure that the company can continuously afford the cost year on year!
This whole thing delayed our initiative till mid 2006, when we found that we are ready for SEI CMM model.
The next question was the level that we should target. I had an idea that if the sponsoring organization wants, they can opt for the highest level i.e. Level 5 and achieve that. However the picture became very clear when we spoke to few reputed consultants – all of them spoke that the realistic goal is to achieve Level 3.
So the goal for 2007 was set to SEI CMM Level 3.
Now, I was facing the toughest question – Which consultant to opt for?
All the agencies are so different in their construct, approach, merits and demerits that the entire analysis leaves you puzzled. Add on – a bad headache at the end of the day.
One consultant is providing a very personalized service with a hands-on approach while some have the top consultants who will provide best practices from their experience in several organizations. One consultant was known to almost everyone, whereas the other one was not even known to my peer companies! One consultant will tailor training for individual employees and do 1-2-1 session to make sure that they understand the concepts well, whereas the other one has great trainers and one of the best quality training materials in the industry.
The call is a tough one! As of 29th December, I am still pondering about my choices and doing a detailed analysis. I am sitting and mapping these organizations with Indus Net Technologies and trying to find the best match.
We will collectively take a call on 31st December and sign up our partner for our journey into CMMi. Will definitely keep you updated.