5 Questions To Ask Automotive SPICE® Consultants Before Hiring Them

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5 Questions To Ask Automotive SPICE® Consultants Before Hiring Them

Your company has decided to benefit by applying Automotive SPICE® in the development of software-controlled systems? There are many possible motivations for the decision to implement ASPICE including (e.g.) customer expectation, quality improvement, reduction of risks and costs, and improved management of growing complexity. Whatever your primary motivation may be, there are a number of things that must be considered. One factor that often dominates is the choice of the right external consulting and support.

A successful introduction of ASPICE requires a sustainable transformation of processes and behavior within your organization. Optimally you will be able to profit from the experience of experts in Automotive SPICE® that have supported this transformation in other organizations. Good consultants develop new processes in close consultation with the experts in your organization to ensure that they are pragmatic and effective.

1. Why can I trust your expertise?

An experienced consultant will have an in-depth understanding of his customer’s expectations and concerns. He will know the risks and pitfalls that can arise in the continuously evolving world of customer projects and will have strategies to address them. He will ensure that early successes can be achieved and will never lose sight of the big picture – the overall efficiency of the development process.

2. How can you support process change?
Processes are a top-level management responsibility. Although process management, definition, rollout and monitoring can be delegated, the overall responsibility remains with top management. Management commitment must be continuously visible within all teams. Process compliance must be believably demanded, authentically demonstrated, valued and rewarded. A leader that claims the right to break the rules that he has defined need not be surprised when his followers imitate his example. An experienced consultant will be aware of such issues and will support you in sending the right signals to your team.

3. How do you develop processes for development?

Acceptance of processes is the key to success. However, processes are only accepted when more attractive alternatives don’t exist. This is why it is important to find the simplest but most effective possible process, requiring the smallest possible number of documents to be maintained, whose maintenance is as simple as possible. Then the activities can be defined which will suffice to create and verify these documents with minimal possible effort. Clear responsibilities are defined, assigned and colleagues are properly trained. Accepted processes follow rules that are easy to remember, are easy to understand and are communicated at an adequate level of detail.

4. How do you ensure that local changes in a team will result in global improvements?

Local optimization of processes or work instructions often result in more effort being required at the interfaces to other teams or processes. Avoiding this requires paying close attention to these interfaces. It is important that information exchange between teams and individuals in meetings is effectively ensured. However, this is not sufficient. It is equally important that documents are current and correct and that these documents are discussed in the meetings. Good standards will ensure that the requisite information for upcoming work packages will be complete and available on time and in the needed quality. This makes it possible for the team to perform their tasks in the expected quality. In day to day practice this means that the tasks must be broken down into small work packages whose progress can be tracked. This tracking in turn requires a continuous flow of progress information at every stage.

5. How do you enable managers to lead the teams to process compliance?

Middle management often functions (unfortunately) like a layer of clay: the free flow of information in both directions is insufficient. This is often the result of a prioritization in which short term project goals dominate. It important to enable team leaders to motivate their teams to pursue improvement goals and support them in finding strategies that make it possible to reconcile competing priorities.

The Takeaway

According to statistics gathered by SEI, successful improvement programs show a ROI between one and five within three to five years. However, two out of three improvement programs are cancelled prior to completion. In some sense, failure is the statistical expectation. If you wish to be the exception to the rule, find an experienced consulting team to accompany you in your efforts.

In summary, be sure that you’ve done due diligence in choosing the consultant to bring into your company. Your organization might be working with this person or firm for quite a while, so make sure it’s the best fit possible.

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