This isn’t anything new: Individual or a group of individuals (champions) see the benefits of process improvement, understand process improvement, and want the organization to benefit from process improvement by implementing process improvement. – What a novel idea.
In order to successfully implement and benefit from process improvement, its imperative that management sponsors the process improvement initiatives/activities. If management, or (in a smaller company) the owner does not see or understand the benefits of process improvement the truth is that it will never be successful.
Champions who try to implement process improvement by themselves will lose the motivation for (process) improvement along the road as they get busy with tasks and other responsibilities; this is especially true when they are going to be the only ones who are making the effort.
For example, an individual (software developer) trying to sponsor process improvement themselves to their own work, working for a company that has no form of formal requirement gathering or does not follow a software development model will soon get tired of putting in the effort (to gather requirements formally) as it will go unnoticed and unappreciated (maybe even criticized).
There might be even cases where the organization is so small (agile would work great here) that it would be impossible to place a “formal” process improvement methodology or cases where the organization feels that the processes they have right now are “perfect”; even though they might not be.
To determine if process improvement is required we can use the history of how well past projects went, under budget, over budget, issues that were faced and so on. We can also measure certain things and create actual results that tell us how good or bad our current process actually is.
It is always easier to explain your point to upper management when you have actual data and visuals such as charts that can be analyzed and used to substantiate your point; this is where measurements come in. Measurements themselves can be a complex and important tool that can be used in process improvement models such as CMMI, but it is not until level 2 and 3 (in CMMI) that you actually get to make use of those measurements. At some point (idea for another post) I will discuss how quick and dirty measurements can be put in place without too much of a hassle (and measure process without process). Not everyone is a “process” person and fail to understand the importance of process (and a formal SDLC).
Many will however understand results obtained from the measures when they are presented and used to talk about costs, budget, resources and timeline’s.