PCMM – Are your people ready for change?

It is official – regarding HR as another “support function” is finally passé. (Wonder why it took this long, though!) This means we have firms scrambling to pull the human resource function from the sidelines right into the strategic limelight.

But then, there is something like doing too much of a good thing. You may be eager to implement a gamut of HR best practices; you may want to introduce measures and metrics for every HR variable – but what if your people are not ready for these changes? After all, we are not talking of software, where you can update versions overnight – we are talking of people with unique learning cycles, preparedness and limitations. Infosys – India’s software major well-known for its HR focus – addressed this issue by implementing the PCMM. In fact, Infosys was the first company in the world to be assessed at Level 5 in the model. PCMM was developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute to help organizations – particularly software companies – to align their workforce to their business strategies and create a culture of continuous improvement. Nothing new so far… What sets the PCMM apart from other approaches to Organizational Change and Development is that it helps employees to develop their skills in a phased manner. The PCMM framework has 5 levels of maturity, from Level 1 (staffing functions) to Level 5 (continuous improvement of competencies to align with the organization’s business strategy). So your organization needs to score on all the KPIs at each level – and fill loopholes through training, capacity building etc. – before moving on to the next maturity level.

For Infosys, the biggest advantage of implementing PCMM was that it enabled the company to focus on a few fundamental practices at each level to enrich its talent management strategy. Using the model, Infosys successfully transformed itself into a role and competency-based organization with well-defined career paths.

Of course, every framework comes with its caveats. For one, organizations may be tempted to skip the initial levels assuming that they are ready for bigger things in life, only to be left with a shaky foundation. Again, companies may get obsessed with something akin to the “Grade Fever” common among students. In their obsession with scoring on the highest levels, they may end up establishing a lot of practices in paper without really weaving them in – much like students who learn a lot of things by rote to rake in the grades! What really matters is not the level but the thoroughness of assessment and the extent of institutionalization (buy-in from all organizational levels) at each stage of maturity.

So what’s next – a PCMM equivalent for non-software organizations? Given the thinning barrier between knowledge workers and others, I would say, Why not?

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5 Comments on “PCMM – Are your people ready for change?”

  1. rajesh Says:

    Hi,

    PCMM is structured way of measuring and improving on people processes. Though not to get dragged in the number game, for factual purposes, Wipro was the first organisation to be certified at level 5 on version1 of PCMM..

  2. Amit GK Says:

    Dear Mr Rajesh,

    What we should have said is that Infosys was the first company to attain Level 5 of PCCM Version2. We forgot to mention the version in the post.

    Thank you for bringing out the discrepancy.

    Amit GK

  3. Orgblogger Says:

    Indian software companies were among the first to be assessed successfully at Level 5 of the basic CMM framework. As these organizations made attempts to improve their practices at each level of CMM, they realized the need for paying specific attention to talent management. In the knowledge industry, the maturity of workforce practices impacts the maturity level of the organization – in the CMM sense – than any other factor. Thus, most Indian software majors including Wipro, Infy, Satyam and TCS have either reached Level 5 of PCMM or are in the process of assessment at one of the maturity levels.

  4. Lakshmy Says:

    As with any other quality framework, I feel the biggest danger inherent in PCMM is the possibility of falling into a rut once the targets for each level are attained. When the organization reaches level 3 of PCMM, it already has a competency-based HR system and well-defined career paths in place. Moreover, these are standardized and aligned to the overall business strategy. Given that business strategy is never static, what happens if the organization does not reexamine its workforce competencies constantly? After all, “continuous improvement” is prescribed only at Level 5. So for an organization at say, Level 4, what this implies is the danger of ending up with obsolete competencies and HR practices not in tune with the evolving strategic needs. This is why a culture of “active”, measurable and revisable competencies should be maintained irrespective of the maturity level.

  5. Subramaniam Says:

    In my view the entire issue of PCCM falling inito rut, is as true as any other system that goes through certification / accredition approach.

    The key is the benefits that one can draw from the best practices. The model also has certain weakness with refernce to the assessment process keeping geographical and cultural issues in mind. When it comes people process one cannot refer a best practice in one region as best practice in another region. One must look at the relevance to the region, nature of business and size of the organisation. In absence of these built in flexibility / adaptibility in the model (at least as accepted by the assessors) brings in the rut factor.

    I can vouch for the benfits that the model can bring if one is looking at adopting it for growth and benefit of people and organisation through people.

    It is also commonly perceived that this model is suitable of IT industries. There are some non-IT sector who have worked on PCMM Model succcessfully.


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