5. Assessments

5.4 How to prepare for an assessment?

What organisation should do:

No organization is always well prepared for an assessment. The following preparatory work has proven itself useful:

  • Understand the status quo (The first step is to understand how far away the project is from the target Automotive SPICE. This can be done by a full assessment or a gap analysis (a light assessment with less effort and without formal ratings) which should be performed by experienced assessors. The project team learns also about Automotive SPICE and the typical assessment questions).
  • Starting improvement activities (An improvement plan is developed to address the weaknesses found. Unless the weaknesses are small the improvement plan will go far beyond the planned assessment date. Performing improvements before the assessment is normal and the assessors are fully aware of this fact. It is up to them to decide whether to accept these improvements or not because they were not timely (e.g., fixing something which was due at project start immediately before the assessment)).
  • Automotive SPICE training for the assessment interviewees (The project members should understand their relevant processes. This makes it easier to prepare for the assessment).
  • Preparation of the “story”(Many assessors start with open questions. Thus, it is useful to consider in advance how to present your work. In the case of complicated processes, it may be helpful to present a few slides at the beginning of the interview. Also cleaning up the strategies which are required in many processes makes sense. These strategies are often used to introduce the assessors to the way the project works).

What organisation shouldn’t do:

  • Faking evidences (The timeliness of documents is often checked in an assessment by looking at time stamps as well as the history of documents. If documents have been created in preparation for the assessment the project should not hide this fact. For example, a cost estimate is due at the beginning of the project and is not generated in the second year of the project. If assessors feel that they are deceived, the assessment typically becomes uncomfortable as the assessors will lose confidence).
  • Lengthy and unnecessary presentations (Presentations of processes mainly make sense in assessment session related to level 3. In the level 1 and 2 interviews one should rather demonstrate how the project actually works and show corresponding project level documents. Presentations should be reserved for complicated topics, e.g., organization of processes and tools related to the V-model, traceability concept, and overview of the different test levels).

Effort of the organization for an assessment

Interviewees need approximately two hours per interview. On top of that comes the preparation time. All in all, you can assume about three days of effort per interview participant.

 Project managers and QA staff are an exception. They should be present during the entire assessment duration. On top of this comes the preparation time. Particularly for the project manager this can take much time.

The senior management should be present both during the kick-off of the assessment and the final findings presentation. Sometimes organizations find it useful to have an additional executive session with the assessors.

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