Tuesday, April 8, 2008

GP 2.1 Establish an Organizational Policy

This Generic Practice is fairly simple and straightforward, but one that many organizations have difficulties implementing the first time around. The practice states "Establish and maintain an organizational policy for planning and performing the process." What I see many organizations do is write a high level process or procedure as the policy instead of providing the necessary organizational expectations for the process.

One of the underlying principles of the CMMI is the principle of setting goals and objectives. Senior/Executive Management should be setting and clearly communicating the organization's business goals and objectives. The policy required by GP 2.1 is then the place for aligning the quality system with the organization's business goals and objectives.

Another problem I have encountered is that organizations tend to write huge policies when in point of fact, all that is necessary to clearly communicate the organization's policy is a few sentences or a paragraph.

And in an extreme case, I have seen one organization declare that it is their policy for each organizational unit to achieve a specific Maturity Level. This odd policy is very similar to the blog I wrote the other day titled Setting Proper Goals and Objectives. The organization's core business is NOT to achieve a Maturity Level, implement a specific model, or comply with with a specific standard. The organization may need to achieve a specific Maturity Level or comply with a standard in order retain existing business or win new business, but that is not why the organization is in business. The organizational policy writer(s) need to dig a bit deeper and write the policies to be aligned with the organization's actual business goals.

For example, if one of the organization's core business goals and objectives is to deliver high quality products and services to their customers, then each organizational policy should have that focus. Keeping this focus in mind, then an example Requirements Management Policy might look like this:

Organization XYZ is committed to delivering high quality products to its customers by establishing a common understanding between the customer and the project of the customer’s requirements. This policy applies to all XYZ projects that meet one or more of the following criteria:
1. [Project effort is expected to exceed 1000 hours]; OR
2. [Project budget is expected to exceed $250,000]; OR
3. [Project schedule is expected to exceed 6 months].

All projects that satisfy these criteria must follow the Requirements Management Process and ensure that:
1. The requirements are documented.
2. The requirements are reviewed by the managers, and other affected groups.
3. The plans, work products, and activities are changed to be consistent with changes to the requirements.

Senior Management is responsible for:
1. Establishing and ensuring conformance to this policy.
2. Establishing responsibility for analyzing the system requirements and allocating them to hardware, software, and other system components.
3. Providing adequate resources and funding for managing the allocated requirements.
4. Reviewing the activities for managing the allocated requirements on a periodic basis.

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