Process Improvement Essentials
CMMI, Six Sigma, and ISO 9001
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: September 2006
Pages: 352

Today, technology has become too much a part of overall corporate success for its effectiveness to be left to chance. The stakes are too high. Fortunately, the idea of 'quality management' is being reinvigorated. In the last decade process programs have become more and more prevalent. And, out of all the available options, three have moved to the top of the chain. These three are:

  • The 9001:2000 Quality Management Standard from the International Standards Organization;
  • The Capability Maturity Model Integration from the Software Engineering Institute; and
  • Six Sigma, a methodology for improvement shaped by companies such as Motorola, Honeywell, and General Electric.

These recognized and proven quality programs are rising in popularity as more technology managers are looking for ways to help remove degrees of risk and uncertainty from their business equations, and to introduce methods of predictability that better ensure success.

Process Improvement Essentials combines the foundation needed to understand process improvement theory with the best practices to help individuals implement process improvement initiatives in their organization. The three leading programs: ISO 9001:2000, CMMI, and Six Sigma--amidst the buzz and hype--tend to get lumped together under a common label. This book delivers a combined guide to all three programs, compares their applicability, and then sets the foundation for further exploration. It's a one-stop-shop designed to give you a working orientation to what the field is all about.

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Delivers on its title

By VMBrasseur

from San Francisco

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    Comments about oreilly Process Improvement Essentials:

    This book delivers on its title. The field of process improvement is large, detailed and complicated—much more so than I would have expected before reading this book—yet Persse manages to curate, condense and present the topic in a highly effective and approachable manner. Which, I suppose, is to be expected considering the subject matter in question.

    A more complete review is available on my blog:

    (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


    Nice detail of ISO 9000, CMMI, and Six Sigma

    By Steven D. Sewell

    from Undisclosed

    Comments about oreilly Process Improvement Essentials:

    With a focus on best practices, James R Persse provides good detail on the differences between the "Big Three" process/quality improvement programs. Written in an easy to read manner Persse uses enough examples to help you retain and apply what he is teaching.

    (2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)


    Excellent Introduction to Process & the Process 'Big Three'

    By C Masotti, Sacramento STC

    from Sacramento

    Comments about oreilly Process Improvement Essentials:

    When you think about quality improvement and process improvement, what comes to mind? Cars? Phones? Japan? How about IT? James Persse, a veteran of the Process Improvement field, has written a guide to process improvement for the Information Technology world. In Process Improvement Essentials, Persse offers his insight to those who know they need some quality process and want an overview of the 'big three' quality programs.

    In the first part of the book, we are treated to a couple of process success stories, some well-known names, their pre-process deficiencies, and their post-process gains. And in case the reader is inclined to dismiss those success stories as out of reach for all but the Boeings and Raytheons of the world, Persse moves right along to make his case against what he calls the Six Common Myths that are behind people's resistance to process.

    This resistance, he argues, usually results from either complete lack of exposure or exposure to poor examples. Throughout part one, he counters the myths, illustrates the benefits, and provides general guidelines for planning, getting started, recognizing success, and continuing the improvement process.

    Persse offers his years of experience in the process improvement field to readers who want to take the first step. The ingredients in his success recipe include securing executive sponsorship (getting backing for the project from someone at the top), capitalizing on your strengths, and focusing on targeted improvements (start with a manageable scope, don't try to take on everything from the start). He also provides a lot of guidance for building the process team. Something worth noting for technical communicators is that the technical writer serves a key role on this team.

    The second part of the book is an overview of the three best-known process frameworks: ISO 9001:2000, Six Sigma, and CMMI. The goal is to help readers get an idea about which (if any) of these three would be the best fit for their own needs. If you are looking for detailed instructions on implementing one of these frameworks, look elsewhere. What Persse does is explain some of the requirements, tools, and goals of each, highlighting some of the pros and cons as well.

    The demand for process frameworks like these is growing. Demand will probably continue to grow. The existence of a quality process is increasingly becoming a requirement for doing business with large companies. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other legislation will continue to increase the reporting requirements for even small publicly traded companies.

    Persse makes a great case for process improvement, and does a fine job of presenting the options. If your organization is on the road to putting a process improvement program in place, you'll find Process Improvement Essentials a useful starting point.

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