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I am an IT student and have been working on team-based projects for several years. I have read some papers about CMMI and SCRUM, and this is really interesting to me and I would like to know what kind of jobs involve improving processes inside an organization.

What kind of studies can lead someone towards these jobs? Management? What's the idea? Management as a topic to be studied? And what other topics could be studied to lead to a job using such methodologies and frameworks?

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    Hello Aki, welcome to our community. I believe you could clarify your question... when you say What kind of studies can lead someone towards these jobs ? Management ? what's the idea? Management as a topic to be studied? And what other topics could be studied to lead to a job using such methodologies / frameworks? – Tiago Cardoso Jan 23 '12 at 14:04
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CMMI, SCRUM and other methodologies or standards are generally implemented or touched be by the following departments:

  • Compliance
  • CIO/CTO's Office
  • PMO
  • Audit
  • PM

In terms of organizations, companies that deal with the Federal Government, operate in a regulated environment or are in the supply chain of large multinationals tend to be most involved with setting and maintaining methodologies/standards.

  • Could I, as an IT student who is learning process improvement on his own, take part in the implementation of a model like CMMI and SCRUM? Can it be rewarding for me to continue to study all this? – Aki Jan 23 '12 at 16:31
  • Very well explained the top-bottom path, Mark :) – Tiago Cardoso Jan 23 '12 at 17:26
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Sometimes the move to standards and methodologies comes from the top, sometimes from the bottom.

Selecting the standard or methodology to be used by a company may be made prior to your hiring, therefore you will not have much of an opportunity to decide which one they will use. In order to become certified to these standards, a company must invest time and money to be audited. This reduces the opportunity to switch standards once the process has been completed.

As to what positions are involved in improving processes inside an organization, it could be any job. The goal is to have the processes of the organization formalized. This can only be done by the people in those positions.

If you want to be involved, you will have to get hired by a company that has this as a part of their culture. Another approach is to gain experience, and then become a process improvement consultant.

  • +1 consultants and consulting organizations are actively involved in standards. That is another good avenue to look at for jobs in this arena. – Mark Phillips Jan 23 '12 at 15:23
  • I see, and who in the organization gives time and credit to people trying to improve processes? – Aki Jan 23 '12 at 16:27
  • In organizations that use these standards and methodologies, the idea is to use them to document the processes or to improve them. The development/IT/product team does this work. – mhoran_psprep Jan 23 '12 at 17:21
  • Interesting, I'm really looking forward to work in such an environment. As an IT professional I know that I'm not expected to know how to implement SCRUM/CMMI, maybe it will be useful at some point, I still wonder, who is expected to know anything about these models? – Aki Jan 23 '12 at 21:23
  • @Aki having worked as a contrator for a while with the Navy, we had to follow CMMI. Essentially what happens is they tell you what level of CMMI they want, and the team researches what they need to do to meet it. The most we got was a book, which was enough. For CMMI at least, it was more about documenting your current process and having a way to verify that the process is be followed. So mostly paperwork. Not that you may not like it, but most people hated the effort required to do the documentation. – Jacob Schoen Jan 24 '12 at 21:02
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I would like to know what kind of jobs involve improving processes inside an organization.

In some organizations, especially those in industries that rely heavily on process and quality certifications, there will be process engineers and engineering process groups. From my own experiences in the defense industry, nearly every defense contractor has people who specialize in engineering process, as well as engineers from various disciplines that support ongoing process improvement.

What kind of studies can lead someone towards these jobs? Management? what's the idea? Management as a topic to be studied? And what other topics could be studied to lead to a job using such methodologies / frameworks?

I studied software engineering, emphasizing the engineering process and quality courses. I also minored in business management. Within the first 6 months of my first post-college job, I was already working on the engineering process group within my organization.

Some kind of business or engineering management background is probably useful, since many process improvement opportunities are a balance between maintaining or achieving a certification and the needs of the business. However, engineering process groups might not be just process specialists, but also contain those knowledgable in the business and engineering disciplines of the company, who serve to ensure that the processes in place work within the context of ongoing projects.

  • Very interesting. What would the most straightforward path to become a process specialist? What kind of degree is required to be recognized as such? Or is it supposed to be part of most formations? Surely a lot of people looking for their first job never heard of CMMI and SCRUM. – Aki Jan 23 '12 at 21:31
  • @Aki In my software engineering degree program, software engineering process was taught at the end of the second year or start of the third year. Then there were elective courses taken in your third, fourth, or fifth years that covered topics including agile methodologies and software process and product quality. At work, people from all engineering disciplines are on the Engineering Process Group and there's no one degree path. With the exception of myself (and my academic background in SE process), most have experience as technical leads or PMs. – Thomas Owens Jan 23 '12 at 21:41
  • Thank you very much, this has been very helpful! My university doesn't teach process improvement, they make us figure it out ourselves, which works for me but certainly not for everyone. – Aki Jan 23 '12 at 22:18
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I would like to know what kind of jobs involve improving processes inside an organization.

On IT, almost (to don't say all) roles are related at some level to methodologies. Ideally, all roles would be 100% aware of what are the available methodologies, but that's another story...

What other topics could be studied to lead to a job using such methodologies / frameworks?

Being interested to methodologies / frameworks will always add value on your career. I don't believe, however, that there's a silver bullet like get used to Agile and you'll rock. So, I believe that the best way to get in touch with methodologies is what you're already doing, i.e., visiting forums like PMSE :)

If you browse through questions, you'll see a lot of very good discussions about n methodologies / frameworks. Do not bypass a specific question just because you're not aware of that topic. Instead, read it carefully and you'll be already studying!

(A question I'd add myself) Who's supposed to bring methodologies to the table?

  • If you're about to join a company with already well defined methodologies, you'll hit the ground running. On such cases, the methodology will come from Mark's (very well stated!) path;

  • If you're joining a company that's starting and is still living in a fuzzy environment, you'll be able to help your project suggesting and introducing best practices. Here, you'll have the opportunity to be the one adding value to the team / project company.

Success!

  • I see. Well done, you accurately guessed what I wanted to know. I was hoping it could be a silver bullet, being in charge of process improvement inside an organization would be very rewarding to me and represent a great motivation factor. – Aki Jan 23 '12 at 22:26
  • Glad to know, Aki. Once you're comfortable with an answer (not necessarily mines), I'd suggest you to mark it as answer. Take a look at meta.stackexchange.com/q/5234. Either way, I'd keep your question opened (i.e., without an answer marked as answer) for a couple of days more, this way you can receive some other answers in the meantime. – Tiago Cardoso Jan 24 '12 at 0:15
  • Yes I know, I want to reward everyone but I can't vote up yet. I won't forget to mark this question as answered. Thanks for your input. – Aki Jan 24 '12 at 8:59
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QA Engineer

And I do not mean testing. Testing is Quality Control, while Quality Assurance (QC vs QA) is more broad area which includes everything you mentioned (establishing best practices such as CMMI, ISO, COBIT, etc) and is focused on software processes improvement (SPI) - not only testing, but also project management, release management, reporting, etc (full list of QA responsibilities is the list of CMMI process areas). And the most important thing comparatively to other position that might involve software process/quality improvements, QA Engineer has software processes and quality as its primary responsibility.

This has been cross-posted from P.SE

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