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Process Improvement Essentials by James R. Persse PhD

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Some Number Stories

Most of the IT managers and executives I know have an intuitive appreciation for process, at least in general. What they most often ask me when I am making the case for them to formalize a process program in their shops is, "What's the return?" They want to know what kind of ROI they can expect from the investment they know they'll have to make. And it's not that they need proof. It's that the people around them—perhaps a CEO or a CFO—are trained to support decisions built around those kinds of concrete terms.

The fact is most of us in the process improvement field can't guarantee an ROI figure. We can anticipate a positive ROI. We know how to shape a program to generate an ROI. But each IT shop is different. Each has its own focus, its own culture, its own specialties, its own distinct customer base. All those variables make it tough to predict an ROI.

Most of this chapter will focus on what I call the qualitative benefits of process. And by qualitative, I don't mean "soft." Power steering gives you better control of an automobile, but how much more over manual depends on the driver. Likewise, process can give you better control over projects. That's a safe assumption. How much depends on what you build.

John Brodman once conducted an empirical study of the qualitative traits of process improvement and noted that many soft benefits were often overlooked. These included improved morale by the developers, less need for overtime, smoother day-to-day operations and ...

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