Many software, hardware, and systems development companies have customers that expect them to be certified or appraised to standards such as ISO9001, CMMI, Automotive Spice, PMBOK and AS9100.
There are several common reactions to this request:
- Use the standard as an opportunity to improve performance.
- Identify the smallest possible application of the standard so that the letter-of-the-law is met but not the intent.
- Treat the request as something independent of the actual work the company does. For example, during the day, the team slings code together and spends eighty percent of its time in test. At the end of the project, it writes a project plan and test plan because they are needed for the audit.
- Avoid customers that request any type of standard to be met.
When customers ask for these standards they are really asking you to:
- Minimize the technical and financial risk to them.
- Have a consistent and repeatable workflow that leads to predictable results.
- Improve or maintain your capability at creating solutions so that you can continue to be a preferred supplier.
How to respond
Great companies respond by:
- Using the request as an opportunity to improve performance while being compliant.
- Start with a project development lifecycle, such as Agile, Waterfall, or a hybrid, and then add practices such as risk management, stakeholder dependencies and verification.
- Focus on the business with the process in the background. Every practice added solves a problem, mitigates a risk or maintains a gain. For example, internal audits help you know how you are performing before a customer tells you.
- Look for similarities in the standards so that many practices can be implemented one time but used to satisfy each standard.
- Keep each process (also know as work instructions or procedures) to one or two pages to make them easy to write, follow and refine.
- Ensure that the artifacts expected by the standard are a natural byproduct of the practices being performed. That is, there is no extra documentation being created for the sake of the standard. Each practice has been internalized for its benefit to the business.
- Push back on (or replace) mediocre auditors and appraisers when their requests are senseless or ivory-tower.
If your group has been asked to adopt ISO9001, CMMI, AS9100, or similar standards, use it as an opportunity to improve and shine. It is also a chance to upgrade your practices to stay competitive.
If you would like help navigating the standards you are expected to follow, contact us for a free session to get started.[Forward this email to your boss! Subject: Here’s a cool tip for you] Quick Link