Improving the REAL Software Process

Finding the right changes that actually improve our software
1 Day Intensive Seminar Workshop

    Our REAL process is what we actually do that produces our results. It may or may not be what we’d prefer to do or even what we think we’re doing. To change our results, we must change our REAL process that actually produces the results. That’s hard, mainly because people often aren’t aware of what the REAL process is. Instead, they change the “presumed” process—what they think is happening or what they’d like to have happen. Even when the presumed process is formal and documented, it often differs from the REAL process; and changing the presumed process won’t change the results. This interactive session shows how to recognize, analyze, and then change the REAL software process to achieve meaningful improvement. Understanding these lessons is essential for gaining maximum benefits from expensive formalized approaches, such as the Software Engineering Institute’s Capability Maturity Model (SEI CMM), which many consider synonymous with software process improvement. Exercises enhance learning by allowing participants to practice applying practical techniques to realistic examples.

Participants will learn:

  * Recognizing real processes and distinguishing them from presumed processes.
  * Avoiding common traps that lead to making only illusory improvements.
  * Ways to analyze and measure processes to identify meaningful improvements.
  * Placing externally-defined formalized process improvement approaches in one’s own context.
  * How hiring, training, rewarding, and management style are part of the real process too.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: This course has been designed for managers, analysts, designers, programmers, testers, auditors, and users who are concerned about the efficiency and effectiveness of software development and support.



  • What a process is and why we care
  • Relation between process and results
  • The only way to change your results
  • Why most process improvements fail
  • Distinguishing “real” from “presumed”
  • When the real process is not recognized
  • Defined and documented processes
  • Silos, stovepipes, and smokestacks
  • Measuring a process to its full end result


  • Key perspective to identify the real process
  • How to measure a process
  • Multivariate process mapping
  • Analyzing handoffs and bottlenecks
  • Evaluating value added
  • Streamlining and eliminating error sources
  • Non-operational “soft” components
  • Measuring and improving people processes


  • Examples of what we actually do and get
  • The three envelopes
  • Musical desks reorganizations
  • “They won’t let us use this training”
  • Real vs. presumed testing process
  • Illusion of speeding up the coding
  • Developer perspectives on unit testing
  • Users don’t know what they want
  • Common prototyping fallacies
  • Turning inadequacies into virtues
  • Development vs. maintenance
  • Why these keep occurring--everywhere



  • SEI Capability Maturity Model
  • Key Process Areas by capability level
  • Benefits and advantages the CMM provides
  • CMM weaknesses
  • Piece of paper mentality
  • Process imposition vs. process improvement
  • Need for in-context full process measures
  • Activity vs. results
  • Role of management styles and practices
  • Biggest determinant of quality is omitted
  • Empirical analysis of actual improvement
  • Six Sigma as applied to software
  • Getting past the hype to gain real value

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