I am about to date myself here. Back in 1986, I was working with a Westinghouse Fellow at the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh along with another co-worker from Baltimore. My mentor was a retired IBM Software Engineer named Watts Humphrey, who is best known for his invention, of all things, of the software license. He came to SEI and began work on The Software Process Program. He headed up this group from 1986 to 1993. A kid with learning disabilities, Watts became an engineer with five patents, 11 books and a National Technology Medal from the President. He died in 2010 at age 83 of liver cancer. His best invention was the Capability and Maturity Model. This model was originally developed as a tool for objectively assessing the ability of government contractors processes to perform a contracted software project. Humphrey based this framework on the earlier Quality Management Maturity Grid developed by Philip B. Crosby in his book "Quality is Free". However, Humphrey's approach differed because of his unique insight that organizations mature their processes in stages based on solving process problems in a specific order. Humphrey based his approach on the staged evolution of a system of software development practices within an organization, rather than measuring the maturity of each separate development process independently. The Capability and Maturity Model (CMM) has thus been used by different organizations as a general and powerful tool for understanding and then improving general business process performance.
The ASTM standard E 2452 Standard Practice for Equipment Management Process Maturity uses the standard definitions of the Capability and Maturity Model as postulated by Humphrey and his crew at SEI. The E52 committee defined this standard taking the equipment management life cycle phases and applying the metrics and the assessments of process maturity. The ASTM standard structures the equipment lifecycle from acquisition through disposal in terms of the functioning business processes for each phase and as a set of structured levels that describe how well the business process of the organization can reliably and sustainably produce required outcomes. The Equipment Management Maturity Model provides:
- a place to start
- the benefit of a community’s prior experience
- a common language and a shared vision
- the framework for prioritizing actions
- a way to define what improvement means for your organization
Sounds like a working group, no? In my previous blog posting “The Guiding Principles of Equipment Management” I listed a start of a working group charter. It is in the standard practice for Equipment Management maturity that the body of work done by this working group can be benchmarked, creating assessments of other organizational practices and successes.
The Equipment Management Maturity Model involves the following five aspects:
- Maturity Levels: a 5-level of process maturity continuum – where the uppermost (5th) level is a notional ideal state where processes would be systematically managed by a combination of process optimization and continuous process improvement.
- Key Process Areas: a Key Process Area (KPA) identifies a cluster of related activities that, when performed together, achieve set of goals considered important.
- Goals: the goals of a key process area summarize the stats that must exist for the KPA to be implemented in an effective and lasting way. The extent to which goals are accomplished is a Key Processes Indicator (KPI) that can be measured. It indicates the capacity in which the organization has established their maturity level.
- Common Features: common features include practices that implement and institutionalize a key process area. There are five features: commitment to Perform, Ability to Perform, Activities Performed, Measurement and Analysis, and Verifying Implementation.
- Key Practices: The key practices describe the elements of infrastructure and practice that contribute most effectively to the implementation and institutionalization of the KPAs.
The maturity level describes the five states of a process:
Level 1 - Initial (Chaotic)
It is characteristic of processes at this level that they are (typically) undocumented and in a state of dynamic change, tending to be driven in an ad hoc, uncontrolled and reactive manner by users or events. This provides a chaotic or unstable environment for the processes.
Level 2 - Repeatable
It is characteristic of processes at this level that some processes are repeatable, possibly with consistent results. Process discipline is unlikely to be rigorous, but where it exists it may help to ensure that existing processes are maintained during times of stress.
Level 3 - Defined
It is characteristic of processes at this level that there are sets of defined and documented standard processes established and subject to some degree of improvement over time. These standard processes are in place (i.e., they are the AS-IS processes) and used to establish consistency of process performance across the organization.
Level 4 - Managed
It is characteristic of processes at this level that, using process metrics, management can effectively control the AS-IS process (e.g., for software development ). In particular, management can identify ways to adjust and adapt the process to particular projects without measurable losses of quality or deviations from specifications. Process Capability is established from this level.
Level 5 - Optimizing
It is a characteristic of processes at this level that the focus is on continually improving process performance through both incremental and innovative technological changes/improvements.
Where does your organization fit into the business process of equipment management? If your organization fits into the first 2 levels, your group stands to make significant improvement. If you fit into the highest level, well I am preaching to the converted. Most Emergency Management Organizations, including many aspects at FEMA fit into Level 3 although some (see my previous blog posting on PEP) are still at level 1 or 2.
Watts Humphrey used to tell us every week in our progress meeting: “Goals are about more than results. They’re about direction and focus. They establish priorities for required work.” When we would suggest an activity, he would always ask: “Does this activity move the team toward the goal or would something else be more effective?”
Understanding the Equipment Management Capability and Maturity model provides you with a framework to grow. It is the mark on the doorjamb that we place each year to indicate another step towards maturity and being able to function effectively in our jobs. The mature EOC equipment manager understands that need, and works towards achieving the business goals with the eye on accuracy and commitment to public safety.
Please email me if you have any questions or post your comments here.