Chicago Software Process Improvement Network

(C-SPIN) Meeting

Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2006

Informal Networking 6:00 – 7:00 PM

Presentation 7:00 – 8:30 PM


 Schaumburg Township District Library

130 S. Roselle Road

Schaumburg, IL 60193


Process Improvement:  Real Life Examples

What worked and what didn’t

Karen Mermel, Moderator

Panelists still being determined




We know a lot from our previous seminars on process improvement.  We know what we should do.  We know how to do it but it’s all learned from listening to our previous excellent speakers.  Now, we have put a panel together to give real life examples of what worked for some companies and what failures they had along the way.


About the Presenters

Karen Mermel, Moderator
Karen Mermel is the Chair of C-SPIN. She is PMP certified and has worked in many corporations improving processes. She is also Chair of Strategic Planning and on the Board of Directors of the National Space Society, a medium-sized non-profit headquartered in Washington, DC. She previously was the Vice President of Public Affairs.

Ben Burrows, AT&T
Improving Software Quality Through Phase Containment of Defects
Planning, organizing, deploying and managing a customer-focused, software quality and process improvement initiative in a large IT organization. Observations, lessons learned, future steps.

Alla Allison Crowder
1. Building testing process and performance/efficiency metrics supported by Mercury’s Quality Center. Using the tool as a communication channel between the onshore and offshore teams. Identifying gaps through defect root cause analysis and closing them through team training, process improvement and Six Sigma projects. The entire process resulted in measurable increase in quality and productivity.
2. A process of developing an SLA started between two internal groups – the customer and supplier – to structure and document existing practices to make them consistent, train new team members and have measurable results. The process was developed ‘bottom up’ without socializing the concept with the Sr. Management first, although it was at the operational level. The process had to be re-engineered after obtaining a buy-in from the Sr. Management of both organizations with an expansion to other project groups.

Michael Hopman, Walgreens
We moved to a four-week release cycle. After a few releases we found that a four-week release cycle -
1. Establishes a rhythm with the development team. It kept us very focused on what's important and what's not
2. Kept the end users in the loop. They set the priorities and get the functionality they need most.
3. Allows for rapid feedback from the user community.
4. Allows for a great deal of flexibility. We're able to quickly respond to changing priorities.
5. Builds stronger teams. Everyone is focused on meeting the short deadline.

Margaret Lakins, AT&T
We have completed Class A assessments of the institutionalization of our SBC-IT software development process (which is based upon CMM Levels 2 & 3). The organization has approximately 12,500 members. 99.7% has been determined to be institutionalized. I'd like to discuss our evaluation steps and actions that were taken to close the gaps.

Barbara Schwartz
Process improvement success or failure hinges on the visual, consistent support of senior management. I will give a concise synopsis of implementing the same program in two different environments resulting in two totally different outcomes. One was intent on receiving the certification document while the other stressed process improvement to improve relations with customers.

Maria Thompson, Motorola
Process improvement and technology transfer lessons learned deploying a Paperless Patent Practice in Motorola's law department.
Maria B. Thompson is Director of Intellectual Asset Management Process and Tools in Motorola's Law Department. She manages a team of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Process and Information Technology specialists, benchmarking industry best practices, ensuring stability of IPR management tools, and applying Digital Six Sigma principles to continuously enhance systems and tools and automate processes for increased operational efficiency, as well as data currency and accuracy. Maria also manages Motorola's Directed Innovation Program, facilitating focused inventing sessions leveraging the Russian Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, TRiZ (see During her 15 year tenure with Motorola and prior 10 years with AT&T Bell Laboratories, her job roles have included: Telecommunications systems software development; software engineering systems and tools Applied Research; Process Engineering and Design; Benchmarking best practices; and Operations Management, Software Quality Assurance management, and culture change applying the SEI's Software Capability Maturity Model. Maria has an MS in Math and Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Outside of work Maria enjoys scuba diving, snorkeling, camping, bicycling, and horseback riding with her husband, kids, Springer Spaniel, and thoroughbred mare.



6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Networking and Registration (free)
7:00 – 7:10 p.m. Overview of C-SPIN and Introductions
7:10 – 7:50 p.m. Presentation
7:55 – 8:30 p.m. Question and Answer Session

Driving Directions

The library is at 130 S. Roselle Road, 3.8 miles south of Algonquin Road (62). The meeting is in the Rasmussen Room. For more specific directions go to

Future Program Schedule

No program in August.

We will have programs (speakers and subjects to be announced) on October 4 and November 1. Please save the dates.

About C-SPIN

C-SPIN is made possible through the efforts of its Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is composed of: Fred Ballard, Alan Berow, Kathy Brown, Steve Coffman, Alan Cohen, Susan Davidowski , Larry Dribin, Ross Fraser, Bob Freer, George Gatsis, Tony Kvitek, Karen Mermel, Donna Miller, and Robert Stalzer.

C-SPIN is a leadership forum for the free and open exchange of software process improvement experiences and practical ideas. We promote achieving higher levels of process maturity, software quality and mutual respect. Companies, academic institutions, government organizations and individuals are invited.

For more information regarding this meeting, C-SPIN, or the steering committee, contact Karen Mermel at

To receive future announcements electronically, send your e-mail address (include name, address, company, phone) to Karen Mermel at