Assessment planning and preparation phase

The first phase of a formal assessment is (initial) planning. In this phase the Lead Assessor and the organisational unit being assessed review the objectives and requirements and construct all the elements required to undertake the assessment.

TAMAR has specifically stated requirement that a plan for an assessment shall be formulated prior to its initiation – i.e. before data gathering starts – and will be formally documented.

An initial plan will consist of an agreed list of activities and tasks which will include:

  • the schedule for the remainder of planning and preparation
  • data gathering
  • data analysis and
  • data reporting.

Points of contact with the organisation need to be established. TAMAR has a stated requirement that the assessment Sponsor must appoint a user-side assessment Organiser, to manage the assessment and coordinate activities with the assessment team in accordance with the documented assessment plan. The assessment Sponsor and the assessment Organiser can be the same person, if required.

TAMAR states that an assessment plan will include:

  • Activities to be carried out
  • Resources needed
  • Schedules for activities
  • Responsibilities
  • Success criteria for the assessment and
  • A description of the intended assessment outputs.

Other tasks to be carried out during the planning and preparation phases include:

  • Agree the type of assessment to be conducted.
    • Is it a formal or informal assessment?
  • Agree the objectives of the assessment
    • If a formal assessment, what is the Maturity Level being sought?
    • If an informal assessment is it simply to identify weaknesses in the test process or to identify weaknesses and strengths?
    • Is it to provide a plan of action to address weaknesses?
  • Define the scope of assessment
    • Is the whole organisation to be assessed?
    • Is it a single business area only?
    • Is a single project only in scope or a number of projects forming a program?
    • How many projects are currently in scope, and how many have been completed in the previous 12 months?
    • What type of development life cycle is being used?
      • Waterfall
      • V-model
      • One of the many types of Agile / iterative methodologies
      • A mixture
  • Plan the activities and deliverables
    • When will the activities start and finish?
    • When are deliverables to be completed?
  • Arrange the interviews
    • Discuss the roles to be included
    • With the help of the Organiser, the interview dates, times and locations are agreed.
    • Agree method of interview (e.g. in-person, teleconference, video link, Webex)
    • The user-side organiser identifies the individuals and books their time and suitable resources (rooms, teleconferencing equipment, projectors etc.).
  • Prepare the assessment team – e.g.
    • Identify additional members of the Team
    • Agree on which team members will perform which activities
    • Book team members time
    • Look into travel arrangements
  • Prepare assessment tools
    • Set up whatever tools are to be used to record the results of analysis
    • Set up data locations and structures for temporary storage of interview data and corroborative artefacts

Once all elements of the plan have been defined, the Stakeholders (including, at a minimum, the Sponsor and the assessment Team) must review and mutually agree the plan. This must take place before the data gathering phase of the assessment starts.