SEPG North America 2010

March 22-25, 2010 | Savannah, Georgia

SEPG Community Personas

In our continuing effort to ensure that quality, innovation, and an exciting program of professional development and networking are the trademarks of every SEPG attendee's experience, we are introducing a new way for you to get the most from your participation.

Personas are fictitious characters that represent different users in our community. The following table is the full list of SEPG community personas.

Please review this list and identify which personas most closely match your role. You will be asked to select personas during the registration process.

Conference sessions will include the personas that speakers have identified as the most appropriate audience. This will make it easy for you to choose sessions targeted to your role or interest level.

We recognize that this is a lengthy list to choose from but felt it important to offer a wide range of community personas, considering many people serve multiple roles in their organizations. We thank you for your time and thoughtful selection of these personas that we hope will help you to create a conference itinerary that best fits your individual needs and interests.



"I've been able to lower design defects, increase developer empowerment, and increase first-time customer acceptance by spending more energy creating a comprehensive, validated architecture.  Now I'm looking for what I can do to duplicate what I've done but take me out of the loop."

Alexander is an experienced engineer who recently took up the reigns of a team of developers whose product architecture was a result of not really paying attention to architecture in the first place.  Though an easy situation in which to identify improvements, he acknowledges that his respectable accomplishments need to be institutionalized so that he doesn't become a bottleneck.

Agile Fan

"We follow agile development practices and now we've got to implement CMMI. Help!"

Alissa's company is successful at product development and has effectively transitioned to using agile techniques and principles. Her main concern is that everything she's heard about CMMI makes her anxious about how not agile it is.

Appraisal Team Member  

"I'm supposed to be on our company's appraisal team, but the appraisal is months away. I've been to the three-day CMMI class and I know we're supposed to get appraisal training, but I don't want to wait until then to get a head start on what evidence to expect, how to evaluate it, and how to help our organization know whether or not we have the right evidence. I'd like to help out and I figure if I start by practicing reviewing evidence, it's a win-win for me and the company."

Many neophyte would-be appraisal team members are anywhere from terrified at worst, clueless in the middle, to confused at best about what's expected from them during an appraisal. Understanding all-things-evidence would be a great benefit for them including: crafting descriptions of the evidence, knowing when evidence is adequate (does it meet the need of the practice), sufficient (is there enough of it), appropriate (is it correct for the context/instance), and accurate (does it reflect what's really going on), and how to properly identify and constructively characterize weaknesses.


"I'm tired of cutting resources and diminishing the level of services provided to my customers. There has to be another way to balance the bottom-line savings with high performance."

Ceci is struggling, like many IT leaders, in sustaining and improving the level of performance and value being delivered by the IT function. Ceci has tried CMMI and other models in the past, but those efforts have fizzled. She wants to institute positive, sustainable improvements in all aspects of the IT function. She can't go and hire consultants, but she needs to take action.


“I would like my teams to create flawless software so they can spend more time to innovate and less time in defect removal. And I don't like the drama of software releases. I want smooth releases, high quality, and on time.”

Cecil is tired of seeing half his development resources used to find and fix defective software. He wants his developers to have a better work-life balance and to work on exciting new products instead of fixing the prior ones.

Configuration Management Lead

"Tools, tools, tools, tools,
Tools, tools, tools, tools …

I want to make it near impossible for the wrong product to get shipped. I want clear identification of what everything is, where it is, what it belongs to and what was done to it, by whom, when and on whose authority. And, I want it totally stealth. I don't want people burdened with a lot of extra effort. I want push-button auditing too. And I want to see how others have done it."

Chad is passionate about configuration management. You might even say he's a control freak. But, Chad may not have a lot of company. In fact, Chad might have a lot to offer others at SEPG. So, while Chad's looking for ideas, he may have a few of his own. He'll certainly be perusing the exhibit floor for products.

Change Agent

“I am a driver and champion of improvement in my organization. I am passionate about improvement and try to be a catalyst for change at the local and global level."

Charley is challenged to lead improvement or champion local change in a business unit. He is facing constant pushback from developers and management to justify improvements and actions taken.

Curious Explorer

"I believe in CPI, the CMM(I)s, Lean, ISO...all that stuff. However, I also believe all models are wrong; some are useful. I don't take any of these models 'hook, line, and sinker.' I'll choose bits and pieces of any model to make something that works for my company."

Connie recognizes that every organization is different and that change within an organization can necessitate a change of tactics. She wants flexibility in implementing CPI in her organization and wnats the latest guidance on doing so.

Developer (generic)

"I'd like to better understand process improvement practices so I can understand how all this will help me and suggest better ways of doing things."

Deb doesn't like to spend time doing things that distract her from developing and don't improve what she's doing or enhance what she's working on. She's more than willing to follow a process but wants to know *why* she's following it so she can contribute to making it work well for what she has to get done.

Government Software Acquisition Specialist

“I need to know how to acquire systems that are not vulnerable to malicious code attacks."

Gary is responsible for acquiring systems critical to the nation's power grid. Everyone is concerned that the next cyber attack will be on these systems. He needs help. Now.

Government Official

“I'd like to better understand process improvement practices so I can help the industry to develop."

George would like to learn from the industry on the latest trends in process improvement. He is flooded with CMMI maturity claims from vendors and wonders how to use appraisal claims to truly help him understand the reliability of his vendors.

HR Manager

"I'm curious about this People CMM thing. What is it and what can it do for us? How can non-development organizations use it?"

Harriet's company has been chasing the "flavor of the day" in HR management for a long time. She heard about P-CMM and is really hoping it can put an end to the endless cycle of ever-new-and-changing ideas.

High Maturity Practices Implementer

"Our organization is working towards process optimization with CMMI high maturity  practices. I'm looking for examples and other practical advice from the SEI and from others who have done it already."

Howard's organization believes their processes are solid at ML3. He's confident their processes are ready for going to the next levels. It's a lot of work and he's seeking validation for some of his ideas as well as broadening his understanding of what it takes to truly reach high maturity.

In-house process SME

"I work in a place where I'm expected to make process happen. I know better. I can't make it happen without proper support and sponsorship. Help!"

Unfortunately, Ian is like many people – working for an organization that wants either a rating (or even real improvement) without the culture to support it. Anything SEPG can do for him will greatly benefit him and others like him.


"I've been in process improvement for nearly 30 years. Remember 'quality circles?' I've seen and learned a lot and am hoping SEI's stuff can help bring it together."

Jacob can speak about and integrate ideas from project management, product development, service delivery and all their associated processes with the ease of changing from inhaling to exhaling. He comes to SEPG to learn from the best, network, and get to know the SEI better.

Lead Appraiser

"As a lead appraiser there's always pressure to find ways to make the appraisal shorter, cheaper, and less odious, in general. I'm hoping to share and learn appraisal techniques that are still compliant with the MDD, that meet my mantra of 'show me your data,' but are more amenable to the need to be fiscally and environmentally responsible and also more collaborative."

Liron is typical of a growing number of lead appraisers who have learned "the right questions" to ask, how to follow up on clues, and are now finding creative ways to perform SCAMPIs more efficiently, with less production, and more collaborative benefit to the participants and organizational unit. Techniques and tools are always evolving and so sharing and absorbing are key to fostering new ideas and creativity.

(Process) Modeler

"My idea of a process model is a cross between a flow-chart and time-in-motion studies. I've been tapped to help our company get to higher levels of CMMI maturity. Is what I know going to help me, or do I need a new set of skills?"

Mali is perplexed by conflicting information about the detail needed to attain CMMI high maturity. She's coming to SEPG to seek answers about process baselines, performance models, and statistical and quantitative management of project and processes.

Metrics analyst/ manager

"Context, relevance, and unobtrusiveness. Those are my keywords for this job. Sometimes it's hard to hold the line when people get caught-up in what can be measured – forgetting that just because it can be measured, doesn't mean it's appropriate or even needed. I'm keen on learning new and interesting measures that can get to the heart of our work with less complicated and time-consuming mechanisms. I always ask myself, what decision is this metric helping us make?"

Mira knows that training and educating users on the value of metrics and how to interpret and use them is the key to a good measurement system, along with measures that aid in decision making. And she knows all about the pitfalls of measurements. So she's eager to avoid these pitfalls by obtaining measures that offer deeper insight and wider relevance with fewer things to collect, fewer people to bother, and more immediate benefit for the people from whom the measures were taken.


"I've been asked to go learn about what SEI has to offer us for process stuff. We've heard a lot about CMMI, but we're not sure what it is and whether it's the right thing for us. How does CMMI and other SEI products compare to other 'quality standards' out there? How do we decide which way to go?"

Nelson's a very typical SEPG attendee. He's been tagged with having to go learn about process improvement – mostly due to CMMI – but he's really lost in the maze of buzzwords and seemingly conflicting information about the various approaches to process improvement.

Process Consultant

"I make a living helping organizations put together and carry out process improvement efforts. I'm looking for ideas on how to be more effective, but let's face it, I'm also looking to network and make some contacts and better yet, leads."

Pablo is on his own and relies on his reputation, good will, and events like SEPG to enhance his visibility, improve his own skills, tools, and understanding. He considers himself an expert but knows there's always more to learn.


"I've heard about PSP because of TSP, but I need to better understand PSP to get a handle on what it will take for us to get to TSP."

Everything Pat's heard about TSP has had two attributes: (1) It's great, and (2) it requires PSP. The ideas behind PSP will require certain efforts and culture changes she's not convinced her people will buy into and so she's looking for help in making the decision for whether/how to go forward.

Project Manager

"What process improvement practices are there to specifically help me manage projects? I'm also wondering about the concept of a 'project' in a services organization."

Paul-Marcello answers to many masters. On one hand he must deliver projects; on the other, there's reality. Of all the things SEI has, what can help him make ends meet? Since his company also provides services, he's being sent to SEPG to investigate CMMI-SVC, but his particular bent comes from the perspective of project management.

Process Researcher

"What research topics are others exploring and what can I use to advance my work?"

Pradeep works in the research and development arm of his organization and is looking for new ideas from other researchers to accelerate his work and quickly transition the research into a proprietary advantage for his organization.

Process Tool Vendor

"I'm looking for new practices to build into our newest products, something that will give us a competitive edge."

As an exhibitor at process improvement conferences, Preeti's company is always looking for the latest "wow-factors" to embed in their tools and services. She's mostly looking for the big return on investment practices and the special practices for niche markets.

Quality Assurance Auditor

"I hate being thought of as the 'process police.' How do I make it so that my role adds value, isn't just about compliance, and minimizes the audit effort while maximizes the impact/benefit of the outcome of doing the audits?"

Quinton hails from an organization that respects authority and sees the value in following a process. He got into this field from a hands-on approach to finding and fixing problems and found himself in his present position thanks to a knack for connecting testing results to process issues. However, he realizes that process compliance alone is not enough. So while he's interested in making audits more efficient, he's also looking for ways to help his organization break out of a 'compliance' attitude into a more proactive one.

Requirements Analyst

"People keep saying that poorly understood requirements are the most common reason for project failure. What can I do to improve the requirements I develop? It seems like a communication issue; how can I fix that?"

Rita is very astute to observe that requirements problems stem from communication issues, either with the customers or the technical people who have to turn the requirements into products. She's searching for innovative ways in which to elicit, capture, and communicate requirements. She might not know it now, but a requirements review process might also be of interest to her.


"I've been involved with process stuff for a long time and I'd really like to learn some new things, validate my ideas, and hear from the 'masters' in the field."

Sam is no newcomer to process improvement, but he's always on the look-out for new ideas, as well as those ideas that validate his own. He'd get the most from SEPG if he got even a handful of "nuggets" to help him hone his own skills and be able to apply them to his work.

Six Sigma Expert

"I'd like to see what the SEI is doing to help Six Sigma and other SEI products work better together. I can see the relationship between CMMI maturity levels 4 and 5 to Six Sigma, but are they completely interchangeable?"

Sarah has been helping organizations move processes out to 'six sigma' quality, and has seen great benefits. These benefits, however, seem to somehow be limited in their ability to extend beyond the specific process under the microscope. Perhaps there are SEI products that she can relate to that can help?

Service Manager

"It's not easy running a service and trying to get it to run better at the same time. In fact, you can't actually *do* both at the same time, but that's what I'm expected to do while trying to keep customers happy, staff motivated, and the company in positive revenue. I could really use some ideas for making it possible for our service organization to be self-correcting."

Silvia may not be looking at what she needs as "process improvement." In fact, she may not see her operation as a process at all. All she sees are happy customers (or not), happy staff (or not) and order backlogs (or not). Dealing with her day-to-day issues must be practical, accessible, and "ready for duty." She can't get bogged down in process-speak and ideals; she has service requests to punch down.

Small business owner

"I have a small business that I'm trying to grow. A prospective customer is asking about our performance capability. What makes sense for a small company like mine?"

Smriti is an entrepreneur and owner of an eight-person software development and services company. With no in-house expertise on process improvement, and cash-flow always tight, Smriti doesn't know how to respond to the client.

Small project member

"I work on projects with very short lifecycles, anywhere from a couple of days to a month. Are there best practices for me?"

Spangler is looking for personal best practices for short-duration projects. CMMI seems way too big, so what's the right stuff?


"What am I going to be doing to help our organization get to high maturity? When do I get involved? What guidance should I provide my company?"

Stan knows statistics but not process improvement as much or CMMI hardly at all. His company is relying on him for high maturity evidence, but what does he really need to know and do to help this happen?

Systems Engineer

"I know CMMI applies to software but I was told it applies to systems engineering as well. Can someone show me how?"

Sumeet is responsible for engineering complex systems of mechanical, electrical, and optical components. He and his team get blamed by the software teams that his team doesn't deliver good requirements, that the specifications they are provided with are not good or consistent.


"I've made reaching CMMI level x a priority for my organization. I believe it will show us what we need to improve, how well we're doing as a company, and will enable a competitive advantage for us…both from an internal rate of return and cost-lowering perspective as well as from the clout of having the rating. However, we can't afford to get the rating without realizing the benefit. We've got to do this smartly."

Susan reflects many companies' leaders' desires. And, she's even well-intentioned. However, she may or may not know what it really takes to realize these intentions for her organization. Does she have the right resources? Does she have the staying power to see it through? Will she allow the process improvement effort to gain and retain momentum? Many of these questions are "unknown unknowns" to Susan at this point. She may need to "get smart" fast to make an appropriate decision.


"As a tester I seek failures. I try to break things and find bugs, errors, and other defects. How do I convert what I see from my point of view into stuff people can use to improve the process? That would make things tougher (and more interesting) for me and my wicked ways!"

Professional testers are a special breed and for too long they've been under-appreciated. Perhaps because for too long what they do hasn't been appreciated as part of the whole development or service life-cycle. But people really good at making things expose their issues are an invaluable resource for process improvement. Integrating their work into the overall improvement cycle is an endless source of opportunity.

TSP team member

"I'd like to better understand TSP practices so I can coach my team mates and help us be more autonomous."

Tom's group is adopting TSP and he's a development team member. As the company grows, he will be moving in the direction of becoming a team lead. He wants to get a solid grounding in TSP so that he can better coach his team(s) and be thinking of ways to scale development activities.

Team Lead

"I really need to dive into the technical practices of process improvement so I can coach my team in the best way to get things done."

Tran is a born leader but doesn't have a lot of experience with the engineering side of process improvement. He's mostly looking for implementation guidance for thornier engineering practices.

Training SME

"What can we learn from SEI and all the people who work with the SEI? What do we need to know to do process improvement well? How can the SEI and people who work with SEI products help us become a learning organization?"

Trevor may not be as interested in "canned" material as he might be in very specific targeted content to meet his company's needs. He's also aware that to become a truly empowered learning organization requires people to be trained and for the culture to support this mindset. Trevor is very interested in what he can bring to the organization that will help inculcate this culture.


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Carnegie Mellon University
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