Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What is the Difference Between the SEPG and a PAT?

There can be several different groups responsible for process improvement within an organization. At the top level there is the need for someone to provide strategic direction for the process improvement efforts, removing obstacles to process improvement, providing funding for process improvement, and management oversight of the effort. This function is sometimes performed by the Management Steering Group (MSG).

The next level down is responsible for planning and executing the organization's process improvement initiatives. This role is what we usually see fulfilled by the Software Engineering Process Group (SEPG) or the Engineering Process Group (EPG). If there is something like the MSG, then the SEPG reports to the MSG and sometimes the SEPG chair is a member of the MSG.

The third level is responsible for establishing the process and process assets if they don't exist, or improving existing processes and process assets. This role is many times done by the Process Action Teams (PATs). Sometimes the PATs are permanent teams, or there is so much work for them to do that their life span is quite long. Ideally PATs should be small temporary teams consisting of experts that are assigned a specific process improvement task. The PAT activities may also include piloting a candidate process improvement,developing or updating the process training material, and deploying the processes and process assets to the organization, but these activities could also be done by the SEPG.

The SEPG should be orchestrating all of the process improvement efforts and charter the PATs with their assignments. The PATs report to the SEPG and many times the PAT lead is a member of the SEPG. SEPG and PAT membership should include people who are:
  • Genuinely interested in and motivated to improve the organization's processes.
  • Able to effectively communicate with their peers and management.
  • Respected by their peers and management and considered credible.
  • Experts in one or more the organization's processes (engineering,project management, process management, and support).
  • Etc.

A good practice that I have seen in a number of organizations is to, once the SEPG has been established and operating for a year, rotate the SEPG membership with other interested parties in the organization as well as periodically change the SEPG Chair. This rotation or change of responsibilities allows others in the organization to participate and aids with greater buy-in throughout the organization.

This is only one way to structure the organization for process improvement. Many times the lines are blurred between the MSG/SEPG/PATs and one group may be performing all of the roles described above. Jeff Dalton's Ask the CMMI Appraiser blog describes 4 or 5 different SEPG configurations that work. http://askthecmmiappraiser.blogspot.com/2007/02/what-in-world-is-sepg.html

No comments: