Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The #3 Reason I'm Going (Back) to the CMMI Conference This Year! To gain control of process

Dear Readers,

It’s hard to believe, but this year’s CMMI Conference is mere weeks away! For those who haven’t decided to register yet, I hope to give you something to think about with the countdown of my Top 5 Reasons for being in the Washington, DC area on May 6 and 7 for SEPG North America.

If you are just joining us Reason #5 was: To learn about elevating organizational performance.

Reason #4 was: SEPGNA is a great place to talk about things that matter to your business. 

Today we’re down to the final three reasons.


Drum roll, please! Reason #3 is …

To gain control of your process

Given this year’s high powered line-up of speakers, workshops and events, SEPGNA 2014 promises to be another excellent opportunity to come together and talk about continuous improvement and making our teams more productive using the CMMI. I’m looking forward to hearing about real-life issues that organizations are facing every day in their quest to be a great company.

Like what?

By all indications, the biggest problem many companies are STILL facing is a lack of control over process. They are dealing with late projects, over-budget projects, unpredictable results and unhappy customers. In many cases, they have made small improvements, but nothing has given them greater control for the long-term.

Does that sound familiar?

If so, I can promise you, you’ll have your eyes opened up at SEPGNA. This year, the sharpest minds in the industry will be discussing how to maximize the impact and business results of CMMI and performance improvement. You’ll get new ideas for applying best practices for adopting the CMMI as a tool that can help you set up an environment that makes improvement possible. And you’ll have the opportunity to discuss strategies with other leaders who learned to leverage the CMMI to establish a useful level of control over their process.

Great companies know that the key to process improvement and performance innovation is to “know how you know” the process works. Adoption of the CMMI can give you the data you need to do that. It can show tell how the process is performing, whether you are getting the results you expected, and how you can make it better.

Why is this true? Because the CMMI is a framework for learning. It helps you learn about yourself, your company and the way you do your work. And there are practices within the CMMI that can help you apply what you’ve learned to make that even better.

The value of a great conference like SEPGNA is that it helps you learn about keeping these things on the top of your mind, so that you always know how things are going, and how they can be made better.

So join us! Come on out for the great learning experience, powerful conversations and new insights on how to gain control of your process!

The countdown continues! Check back soon for Reason #2.

Register for the CMMI Conference.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The #4 Reason I'm Going (Back) to the CMMI Conference This Year! To talk about things that matter.

Dear Readers,

Have you heard the buzz? Everybody’s talking about the CMMI Conference (a/k/a SEPGNA 2014, a/k/a “The Greatest Show on Earth”). This year’s conference is coming to the Washington, DC area on May 6 and 7 – and it’s going to be better than ever!

As a veteran attendee, sometimes speaker at SEPGNA conferences, and longtime practitioner of the CMMI, I love talking with people about using the Model for process improvement and performance innovation. I’ve found no better place to do that than at the SEPGNA Conference every year. That’s why I put together this list of Top 5 Reasons to attend SEPGNA 2014 – to share all the ways you, too, may come to think of North America’s premier CMMI experience as YOUR number one conference of the year!

For those who are just joining us, Reason #5 was: To learn about elevating organizational performance. Now let’s continue the countdown, and Reason #4.


Drum roll, please! Reason #4 is …

To talk about things that matter

Yes, SEPGNA is THE place to talk about things that matter to your business. Things like reducing defects, improving quality, increasing the speed of delivery, and creating predictable, repeatable results. If it has to do with changing behaviors and doing what you need to do to be a great company, it’s open for discussion.

Do you enjoy a good, spirited conversation about process improvement and performance innovation? Of course you do! And you’ll get a lot of that at the CMMI Conference.

Every year, the SEPG North America conference draws a wide variety of engineering, project management, and software professionals, who come from a vast array of disciplines. Some are organizations that are getting started with CMMI, and are interested in hearing user stories that offer applicable lessons. Some are experienced in using the guidance of the CMMI and are looking for ways to take the next step in performance improvement. And some are industry experts who are excited about sharing some new and powerful ways the CMMI is being used by companies small and large around the globe.

As a certified Lead Appraiser, I always enjoy to talking about the amazing results I’ve seen companies achieve with the CMMI. I know that if you adopt the CMMI you will likely experience improved performance, increased productivity and fewer project delays. You’ll be on-time and on-budget more often, and your workforce will be happier and more productive.

Whatever your interest, this year, you’ll have plenty of chances to join the conversation, as the CMMI Institute is planning an even richer, more interactive CMMI conference experience. Some of the hottest topics in the industry are slated for discussion, including:

  • Getting results with CMMI
  • Making the most of your metrics
  • ROI and CMMI for Services
  • Agile and CMMI for Acquisition
  • Drawing insights from stories aggregated from dozens of CMMI users

With this year’s theme of Elevate Organizational Performance, the 26th annual SEPG North America conference promises to give companies even more to think about. There is a full slate of high-quality, proven speakers, workshops and break-out sessions to choose from, with opportunities to discuss both principle and practice that we can all take home to our organizations.

What better place for conversations about the power of process improvement than at SEPGNA, with people like you and me, who get it?

So come on out to the Washington, DC area, and join the conversation! 

Register here.

The countdown continues! Be sure to check back soon for Reason #3.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top 5 Reasons to Attend SEPG 2014 Is BACK!

Friends,

Once again, the CMMI Institute has been gracious enough to host my annual countdown of the "Top 5 Reasons I Am Going (Back) to SEPG 2014" this year on their site. You can link to the initial post here: http://sepgconference.org/im-going-back-sepgna-2014/


Join us in the Washington, DC area on May 6-7 to hear User Stories from other companies, cutting edge tips on how to use the CMMI to make your company as great as it can be, and to establish or continue the connections made at North America's premier conference for Performance Improvement and the CMMI.

Broadsword will be there, and I will be presenting my theories on “making values operational” by leveraging the CMMI’s strength as a “values-based architecture” that links Values, Methodologies and Techniques. The goal is to learn how to trace a direct link between your company’s values and how work gets done, so that you can operate like the great company you've always known you can be.


Enjoy - and see you soon in our nation’s capital!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, ScrumMaster, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff pioneered agileCMMI, the leading methodology for incremental and iterative process improvement. He has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation , software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

To download eBooks about CMMI, visit Jeff’s Author Page on Amazon.

The #5 Reason I'm Going (Back) to the CMMI Conference This Year!

Hey, CMMI Appraiser!  Why should I make the trip to SEPGNA 2014? ~ friends met at other conferences this year 

Hey, friends!

It’s that time again! The CMMI Conference (a/k/a SEPGNA 2014) is coming to the Washington, DC area on May 6 and 7!

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Whether you are just starting to consider adopting the CMMI for your organization, or already have extensive experience with the Model – you’re probably wondering whether this year’s CMMI experience is right for you.

Wonder no more! As a veteran attendee, sometimes speaker at SEPGNA conferences, and longtime practitioner of the CMMI, I feel so strongly about the value of the Conference that I’ve developed a list of Top 5 Reasons to attend SEPGNA 2014. And here we go!



Drum roll, please! Reason #5 is …

It’s all about helping you elevate organizational performance.

As you know if you’ve attended the Conference in the past, SEPGNA is the premier organizational performance improvement conference. Hundreds of professionals come from around the world come to learn, network and explore solutions to their performance challenges. It’s such an amazing event that I like to call it “the greatest show on earth!”

This year, the show will be even better! Our host, the CMMI Institute, has been working hard to make sure this year’s Conference has something for everyone who attends, wherever you are in your professional journey. Following a theme of “Elevate Organizational Performance,” the Program Committee has created two days of content focused on positively impacting the way you do your work.

Now in its second year, the re-imagined format is designed to help you explore using the CMMI to improve performance through first-person case studies, interactive workshops, and powerful presentations that can help you to get started with CMMI or take your organization to new levels of success.

Whether your interest is multi-model, practical process improvement, high maturity, agile, DevOps, Services, acquisition, or any other discipline, you will find ample opportunities to dive into the principles and practices that can help your organization better harness the power of performance improvement with the CMMI. Check out the CMMI Conference schedule.

The variety of learning opportunities alone is incredible. You can expect to come away with real life, practical and implementable ideas. For full details about the Conference logistics and to register, navigate around the SEPG Conference site.

The CMMI Conference is an great opportunity to spend two days focusing on how you can get better at what you do. For some, this will be reason enough to attend this year’s conference. Others may be preparing for their SCAMPI Appraisals, want to learn how to scale Agile, or just want to learn more about CMMI. Why will YOU go?

The countdown continues! Be sure to check back soon for Reason #4.

Register for the CMMI Conference.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Can agile survive in a Waterfall world?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, last year I joined a Northern Virginia-based IT solutions provider to the Federal Government, to build up their agile division. For months we have been trying to scale Scrum, but are under constant internal and external pressure to change the way we work.  In your opinion, what I'm trying to do, is it even attainable?  Can agile survive in a Waterfall world? ~ Simon P.

Simon,

Stop right there. Take a step back from the ledge.

First, it will help you to realize that you are not alone. Far from it.  We are ALL living in a Waterfall world. While we are off iteratin’, our company leaders are off Waterfallin’. And even though they are smart, dedicated, wonderful people, they just can’t seem to understand the value of Scrum, or any of the other agile methods.

But there is a solution. There is a way that agile and Waterfall can coexist. And the effects can be beautiful.




Strengthen agile – don’t CHANGE it.

To be able to scale Scrum, you need to strengthen your agile values in two places. The first place to strengthen agile is within your own company. This won’t be easy. I bet if I were to look through all of your departments, not just software engineering, but accounting, marketing and sales, operations, I would find that your CEO, CIO and COO are off living in a Waterfall world. That's one reason Scrum projects can’t scale and why you might feel you're not getting much traction.

The second place to strengthen agile is in your interactions with external forces. By trying to change what you are doing, the Federal Government is actively, but probably un-knowingly, weakening your agile values. And if it’s a struggle between the Federal Government and agile, we all know who is going to win!

Both of these battles are winnable, Simon. Keeping in mind that you are still relatively new to the company, you should not expect victory this year or even next. The issues are just too big. But if you start working on techniques you can use to strengthen agile, you will be able to build a process integration layer to get your agile teams to talk to the business leaders. This will help you win the internal battle. And when you are winning the internal battles, you can persevere in the face of pressure from the client, and win some external battles too.

The CMMI is the perfect tool to help you do that.

By using CMMI as a framework (as opposed to slavishly adhering to practices) you’ll be in a position to work with the Waterfall mindset of both your organization and your client.

How does this happen? Consider:

First, the CMMI provides a framework for your agile teams to talk to the business leaders, helping them understand how well agile methods are working for THEM, and to communicate important information to other stakeholders like middle management, customers, and accounting.

Second, the practices that CMMI makes available to you include those that help bring greater clarity and strength to the Scrum ceremonies themselves (the “Specific Practices” in the CMMI), and those that help strengthen the understanding, adoption, and continuous improvement of the agile values and behaviors (the “Generic Practices” in the CMMI).

For these reasons, and many others, the way to make agile survive and flourish in the Federal Government is to make it stronger. And the way to make agile stronger is with CMMI.

Don't CHANGE it - make it better!

Since you are in Northern Virginia, Simon, you may be interested in a keynote presentation I am giving nearby on the topic of using the CMMI to strengthen agile. I’ll be speaking at the QUEST Conference in Baltimore in April. Check out the details:

WHAT: Keynote presentations
TITLE: Agile Resiliency: How CMMI Will Make Agile Thrive and Survive
WHERE: Quality Engineered Software and Testing (QUEST) Conference: Baltimore, MD
WHEN: April 7-11, 2014
HOW: Register for QUEST

I hope you can make it, Simon. You’re sure to come away with lots of new ideas for helping your Scrum teams survive and thrive the Waterfall world. And that will be a beautiful thing.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation , software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What can we learn about Process Architecture from Justin Beiber?

[Dear Readers, for the past several months, our good friend Pat O’Toole, CMMI expert and seasoned consultant, has been collaborating with us on a monthly series of CMMI-related posts, "Just the FAQs." Our goal with these posts is to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions about the CMMI, SCAMPI, engineering strategy and software process improvement. This month Jeff takes the helm with an article about process architecture and Justin Beiber. And away we go! ~ the CMMI Appraiser]

Our Process Consultant tells us that we need to apply an equal amount of rigor to all 350+ practices in Maturity Level Three, and that everyone must do everything “the same way, every time.” She says that this will “guarantee” that we will “pass our appraisal.” Is this right? ~ Celia Z.

Justin Bieber’s “Baby” sounds pretty darn good on my iPod.

What? Did I just say that?

Yes I did. And as a matter of fact, he sounds GREAT on my iPod! Don’t get me wrong, he’s not my style, and if it weren’t for the fact that my 12 year-old niece gifted me a copy of it on iTunes (I must have done something very mean to her), I wouldn’t have it at all. But here it is - and it sounds GREAT!



It sounds great because the engineer turned all of the “knobs” to the right place. They’re not all turned up to “11.” In fact, some are turned most of the way down (and should be). The mix is tailored just for you (or my 12 year-old niece, to be more precise).

On the other hand, I have an old recording of Pink Floyd from the 70s that I recorded on a handheld cassette recorder at a live show in Madison Square Garden, and it sounds AWFUL. Now, I freely admit I don’t remember much about that night, but I do know one thing: those knobs were definitely in all the wrong places!

The CMMI is a little like the knobs on a sound engineer’s mixing board. In fact, the CMMI’s mixing board is a lot bigger, with more than three-hundred and fifty knobs in Maturity Level Three, each one of them affecting not only the outcome, but also one another. The potential for tailoring (and results) is staggering!

We can’t possibly have all of our process knobs turned up to “11,” and we can’t have them all set in the same way for each team, project, or company. Each instantiation deserves its own unique mix. That leads us to an indisputable truth that some practices are more (or less) important than others - but only as it pertains to your project, your team, and your objectives.

What? Some practices aren’t as important as others?

That’s right. That’s why “fixing” a “partially implemented” practice by reverse engineering the practice and cranking up its intensity and documentation doesn’t always yield the result you were hoping for. Sometimes that weakness is caused by the way we have all of the other knobs set. I call that approach to fixing appraisal results “whack-a-mole." Who knows what carnage you’ll introduce to the system when you ”fix” one of these? You’ll end up hurting yourself if you’re not careful!

Some consultants are fond of saying that ML3 is about “everyone doing everything the same way, every time.” I’ve heard others say “more than 54.7% of the subpractices must be implemented for it to be FI!” Others say that every practice and sub-practice must be given equal attention.

I disagree on all counts.

That’s because the model and the training materials scream “’DEFINED PROCESS’ DOESN’T MEAN ‘A SINGLE PROCESS THAT IS WRITTEN DOWN!’” It’s more akin to “select”, “customize,” or “modify.” But for some reason, people still don’t get it.

And for the record, it means “multiple,” not one.

Or to paraphrase one of my little niece’s favorite movies: “Defined. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

In order to better visualize this, it helps to take an integrated view of the following practices:

IPM SP1.1: Establish the Defined Process
QPM SP1.2: Compose the Defined Process
OPD SP1.1: Establish Standard Processes
OPD SP1.3: Establish Tailoring Criteria and Guidelines
GP3.1: Establish a Defined Process

When you throw in clarifying material from the “Introduction to CMMI” class, it becomes obvious that a flexible architecture that supports multiple processes with controlled variability is what the model is calling for - and what makes your project more successful.

Contrary to these consultants’ claims that “sameness” is a requirement, in all but the most cookie-cutter applications adoption and enforcement of a single process, and by definition the absence of “a defined process” will likely lead to an unsuccessful appraisal. Why? Because forcing everyone down the same process path with all practices equally turned “up to 11” implies little or no tailoring, or that no analysis was used in composing a project’s defined process – or as I like to call it “the way do our work.” Talk about mindless Maturity Level One behavior!

Creating a successful Defined Process is all about where we choose to place the knobs. Should we use Planning Poker or COCOMO? Should we use Fagan Inspections or bench reviews? Should we use a daily standup or an all-hands status meeting? All of these tools can, and should, be in your toolbox – and pulled out at the right moment. It’s a question of where, when, and how they are applied.

Placement of the knobs will determine the outcome, so choose carefully, it’s the difference between a good project and a great one!

Oh, and for a fun example of how sound engineers turn their knobs to make people like Justin sound so good, check out this video on YouTube: http://bit.ly/1ctPuuf.

“Just the FAQs” is written/edited by Jeff Dalton and Pat O’Toole. Please contact the authors at jeff@broadswordsolutions.com and pact.otoole@att.net to suggest enhancements to their answers, or to provide an alternative response to the question posed. New questions are also welcomed!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Is there a disconnect beween agile and traditional ways of working?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, is there a disconnect between agile and traditional ways of working? ~ SD Times

Dear Readers,

Recently this CMMI Appraiser was interviewed for an article in the Software Development Times. It is now available FREE for YOU, our loyal readers, so check it out!


The magazine asked whether I saw a "disconnect" between agile and traditional ways of working, and if so, whether this negatively impacted software quality.

Disconnect? Hello? In some organizations, it’s a full blown dysfunction! It's so common, I've coined a phrase to describe it:  “While we’re all off iterating, the business is off waterfalling,”

Here's a quick recap of some of the points I made in the article, and some I would have liked to have made, had there been more space.

The negative impact of this disconnection or dysfunction shows up in requirements churn, which has given rise to a philosophical shift. In years past, engineering and software professionals didn’t think about bugs and defects in terms of requirements problems or customer problems or management problems. Instead, we focused on code. Then we found that the code did what it was supposed to do, but didn’t do what the customer wanted it to do.

So now we think of it as a requirements problem.  Once we can understand where the defect was injected into the process, we can change the process to fix it. For example, we can validate the requirements in a different way as they come in the door. We can catch these things before they get to test, before they get to design and code or build, and before they get to requirements spec drill-down. In other words, we can CHANGE the process to CHANGE the outcome.

That’s what the CMMI is all about. The CMMI gives us a framework for doing something to the process to change a behavior or an outcome. Applying the Model to the requirements and design process allows us to solve problems caused in the early stages when they’re the least costly to fix.

See, the cool thing about the CMMI is that it is not so much an engineering model as it is a behavioral improvement model. It actually gives us data that allows us to say, “The next time we do this thing, is there a way to do it better, faster, cheaper, with higher quality and less costs?” – or whatever our goals and objectives might be.

Get the whole article at http://sdt.bz/68797#ixzz2vDgNSMzz - and thank you for reading "Ask the CMMI Appraiser!”

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation , software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

To download eBooks about CMMI, visit Jeff’s Author Page on Amazon.

Friday, March 28, 2014

How do we find a CMMI consultant who shares our values?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – three years ago, we decided to commit to performance improvement, company-wide. We started applying the rigors of the CMMI to our software, finance, product development, marketing and HR functions. We think we’ve done a pretty decent job, but before we schedule a SCAMPI Appraisal to test it, we want to find a CMMI consultant who shares our values. What are some of the criteria we should consider before hiring a CMMI consultant? ~ Fordham A.

Hey, Fordham,

Congratulations on your commitment to being a great company! Not many organizations come to us already understanding that the CMMI can improve performance across all areas of the business, not just software process improvement. Everything works better when it all works together. I applaud your innovative approach to business!


To help you identify the right fit for your unique business, here are my Top 10 Questions you should ask yourselves about every CMMI consultant you are considering:

  1. Does the CMMI consultant have the knowledge and content you value?
  2. Does the CMMI consultant have an established approach to doing business?
  3. Does the CMMI consultant understand your business and have a plan for helping you be successful?
  4. Does the CMMI consultant suggest practical, agile, incremental ways to make your company better?
  5. Does the CMMI consultant anticipate your needs?
  6. Is the CMMI consultant a creative problem-solver focused on you?
  7. Is the CMMI consultant professional and ethical at all times?
  8. Is the CMMI consultant fun and hassle-free to work with?
  9. Is the CMMI consultant primarily concerned with the real value of the CMMI, and not just the best way to achieve CMMI Level 2 and CMMI Level 3?
  10. Is the CMMI consultant focused on helping you set the right goals and objectives, and helping you ask the right questions?

As you know, Fordham, the CMMI provides a framework for changing behaviors and changing culture that can establish an environment for allowing you to operate like the great company you know you can be – for the long term. We call that the “path to greatness.” Having a CMMI consultant who shares your values can help you stay on the path to greatness, and achieving a Maturity Level of the CMMI will be just one byproduct of your journey.

Now that you know what you're looking for, you are on your way!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation , software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

To download eBooks about CMMI, visit Jeff’s Author Page on Amazon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Webinar reminder: CMMI Information for Extra-Small Companies!

Dear Readers,

New CMMI Information for extra-small companies is coming to your computer screen on Thursday at 1PM ET!

Because this FREE, LIVE Webinar was designed specifically for the owners, partners, directors, managers, and senior engineering staff of a company with fewer than 20 employees, we would love for you to register (if your company is extra-small), or share this opportunity with someone you know in business.

Join us on Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 1PM ET for: “Shattering the Myths about CMMI and Extra Small Companies!”




Here are some of the Myths about to be SHATTERED:
  • CMMI is only for big companies? MYTH!
  • CMMI is too expensive to implement? MYTH!
  • CMMI and Agile don't go together? MYTH!
  • CMMI requires too much documentation? MYTH!
  • CMMI success is hard to achieve? MYTH!
This webinar sheds new light on WHY and HOW your extra small businesses can benefit from adopting the CMMI. You will take-away much needed information about why you should consider CMMI as a performance innovation strategy and process improvement model that can have a big impact on your extra-small company.

Register now! Sign up here.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation , software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

To download eBooks about CMMI, visit Jeff’s Author Page on Amazon.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why are Values such a Big Deal?

OK, CMMI Appraiser. I know Corporate Values are important, but it seems like every company says the same thing. I just don’t see how they make a real difference in what we do. What is the Big Deal about values?

Dear Reader: 

That is a great question. And, it’s one we’re serious about.

Let’s assume you have a darn good company, or that you are on the path to becoming one. What makes you that way?

Leadership, your expertise, and your people are important. So are your business processes – the way you do your work, every day. Good and great companies do their work in a predictable, consistent way. 

But, what happens when a company’s values become disconnected from the way people do their work? We think it leads to bad decisions, strained customer relationships, and poor quality. 

To be useful, Values must guide behavior

At Broadsword, we call this “making values operational.” We use a “values-based architecture” that links Values, Methodologies, and Techniques. Our goal is to trace a direct link between the company’s values and how work gets done. 

Here’s an example. If one of your values is to “incrementally deal with issues and risk,” you might select a method such as Scrum and use a technique like Daily Stand-up. If you are an Agile shop, choosing Waterfall with this value would be a problem.

I am convinced that Values are critical. They have an impact on customers, on employees, and on the way products are developed and code is written. 

We have nine core values that we have “operationalized.” Each value guides our behavior and can be traced to how we do our work. Our values range from being “creative problem solvers focused on our clients” to being “fun and hassle free to work with.”   

We think our Values reflect who we are as a company. They’re definitely a big deal.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a 
Certified SCAMPI Lead AppraiserCertified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit 
www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovationsoftware process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

To download eBooks about CMMI, visit 
Jeff’s Author Page on Amazon.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It’s About the Skills, Not Just “Training”

[Dear Readers, our good friend Pat O’Toole, CMMI expert and seasoned consultant, is collaborating with us on a new monthly series of CMMI-related posts, "Just the FAQs." Our goal with these posts is to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions about the CMMI, SCAMPI, engineering strategy and software process improvement. This month Pat talks about the importance of having the necessary skills and competencies, not just meeting a requirement for “training.” Take it away, Pat! ~ the CMMI Appraiser]


In order to address GP2.5 (Train People), we’ve developed 2 hour PowerPoint presentations for each process area and have sign‐up sheets that show we’ve trained all personnel on the processes relevant to their roles. We should be golden in an appraisal, right?

At the risk of being labeled a radical, let me suggest that we forget about the CMMI for a minute…
If I’m the current occupant of the corner office, I don’t care if my people have been “trained,” I care that they have the skills and knowledge to perform the work for which I am paying them. I recognize that in order to achieve a high degree of proficiency, my people need competencies in four skill dimensions:

1. Fundamental skills
2. Domain/product skills
3. Process/tool skills
4. Supplemental/soft skills.

When filling a project management position, the interview process will explore, among other things, the candidate’s knowledge of, and experience in project management. If the person happens to be a Project Management Professional (PMP)® this is pretty easy, as they have achieved an industry-recognized certification that attests to their fundamental skills. They have demonstrated the knowledge and ability to plan and manage projects using such foundational concepts as Work Breakdown Structures, Earned Value, risk management, etc.

OK, so the new hire has fundamental project management skills, but can they apply their skills in our little corner of the world? What do they know about banking systems, EFT, check imaging, and the associated industry standards and governmental regulations? Do they understand the products and services that we offer to meet the needs of our demanding marketplace, and how our customers use our offerings to perform their work? Do they understand the competitors’ product offerings and why we occasionally lose out in a competitive bid situation? 

Without such insight, they will not be able to employ their fundamental skills in an optimal manner on OUR projects. If there are gaps in domain/product knowledge, they need to be addressed for this new hire to become proficient.

In addition, I want to make sure that my people can use the processes and tools that our organization is providing to enable them to perform their work. If they don’t know how we move a project from Point A to Point B, they won’t be able to move their project along in an efficient manner. Such kinks in the system need to be identified and addressed to keep the products and services (and therefore the revenue) flowing seamlessly. 

Better yet, rather than “identified and addressed,” I would prefer that such kinks be “anticipated and avoided,” moving from the reactive state of problem resolution to the proactive state of problem avoidance.

Finally, various roles may require some supplemental skills, a subset of which we typically refer to as "soft skills.” My new project manager may have tremendous fundamental, domain, and process/tool skills, but if they have a cosmic meltdown and a bad case of the sweats every time they present to management or the customer, then we have a problem. Or maybe they write really badly, or they don’t delegate, or they’re not a team player, or… (BTW, an example of a supplemental skill that is NOT a “soft skill” is the ability to read and write Japanese.)

Notice that I didn’t need the CMMI to tell me that my people should have appropriate skills in each of these four dimensions – it’s simply smart, pragmatic management. When interviewing people for an open position, we are trying to match their skill profile to the position’s skill requirements – the more of the required skills they already have covered, the quicker they can contribute to our success.

Rarely do we find the ideal candidate – one that has the perfect combination of fundamental, domain, process/tool, and supplemental skills – so there is nearly always a need to address skill and knowledge gaps. We may use coaching, mentoring, and stretch assignments to address some of these needs. We may place them on a team where they will have the support of other practitioners to help them ramp up quickly. Oh, and we may provide them some formal training as well.

So if management in an organization that doesn’t use the CMMI knows this, shouldn’t management in an organization that uses the model be at least as good? Assuming the answer is “Yes,” doesn’t the 2 hour PowerPoint presentation approach seem a bit underwhelming? Such an approach appears to be much more focused on passing an appraisal than on ensuring employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their work effectively and efficiently.

But let’s be realistic, as soon as you generate an appraisal finding indicating that the 2 hour PowerPoint approach is insufficiently robust, you should fully expect the CMMI Legal Lawyers (who graduated from "Certify U”) to crawl out of the woodwork and strenuously object. “Show me in the model where it says that training is required to cover fundamental skills, domain/product skills, process/tool skills, and supplemental skills!” they protest – and truth be known, given the letter of the law, they are right – the model doesn’t say that.

However, as a top notch defense attorney, you will have already had this discussion with the appraisal sponsor, asking if she is satisfied with a minimalistic approach to “training,” or if she would prefer a more comprehensive approach to competency management – an approach that would provide real value by evolving new hires from marginally adequate to demonstrably proficient. Once she nibbles on the bait, you can tell the CMMI Legal Lawyers that their objection has been overruled.

For those of you that feel more comfortable having model basis for such a finding, remember that
Organizational Process Focus specific practice 1.2 suggests, “Appraise the organization’s processes periodically and as needed to maintain an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.” Unfortunately, most people interpret this last bit as “… an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses with respect to the CMMI.”

But it needn’t be that way! One could just as easily interpret this as “… an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses in accomplishing organizational and project objectives.” Interpreting the model in this way encourages the lead appraiser community to break free of its own compliance mindset and constraints, thereby empowering us to help our clients appreciate and exploit the value the model is truly intended to provide.

© Copyright 2014: Process Assessment, Consulting & Training and Broadsword Solutions
“Just the FAQs” is written/edited by Pat O’Toole and Jeff Dalton. Please contact the authors at

pact.otoole@att.net and jeff@broadswordsolutions.com to suggest enhancements to their answers, or to provide an alternative response to the question posed. New questions are also welcomed!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Can 200,000 visitors ALL be wrong?

Dear Readers,

Thank you for visiting our award-winning blog! You are now one of 200,000 readers to do so!

Yes, together we’ve crossed the threshold of 200,000 all time page-reads, and this CMMI Appraiser couldn’t be prouder. We’re thrilled to reach another milestone, because it means great people like you are getting the message.



As you know if you’ve been with us for a while, I am incurably passionate about helping people use the CMMI as one of the tools that can guide their journey on the path to greatness. I share this message everywhere I go, at conferences, seminars, training sessions, webinars, podcasts, videos and ebooks – and innumerable blog posts and tweets – all with the goal of helping you increase performance and improve quality at your company.

So if you are here because you need even MORE opportunities to learn, please check your calendars and see if you can join us for the following events:

CMMI WEBINAR
Shattering the Myths about CMMI and Extra Small Companies!”
March 20, 2014 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM ET
Sign up for the CMMI for Extra Small Companies Webinar

KEYNOTE PRESENTATION
Quality Engineered Software and Testing (QUEST) Conference: Baltimore, MD
April 7-11, 2014
Register for QUEST

CMMI TRAINING
Introduction to CMMI Training: Troy, MI
April 8-10, 2014
Register for CMMI training

CMMI TRAINING
Introduction to CMMI-DEV: Dallas, TX
April 23-25, 2014
Register for Intro to CMMI

CONFERENCE PRESENTATION
SEGP NA 2014 (a/k/a The CMMI Conference): Tyson’s Corner, VA
May 6-7, 2014
Register for the CMMI Conference

CONFERENCE PRESENTATION
Better Software West / Agile Development: Las Vegas, NV
June 1-8, 2014
Register for the Conference

If you find this information useful, all we ask is that you keep coming back to the show that never ends … and bring a friend!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation , software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What’s Your Biggest Software Development Challenge?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser. What is the biggest challenge you see today in software development? – Steve M.

Your question is timely, Steve.

We talked about Software Development challenges at a recent Embedded Software panel discussion. As expected, ideas ranged from lack of time to lack of communications about requirements. Other issues included technology, skills, training and funding. While they are all important, I think there is an even bigger challenge: Values.

Whether it's Boeing, NASA, Lockheed Martin, Ford and GM, the problem always comes down to values.

Corporate Values? Okay, stop rolling your eyes!

Corporate Values typically talk about Service, Honesty, Excellence and Respect. The problem with Corporate Values like these is that they are never really implemented. 

In order for values to be useful, they have to be about actionable behaviors. They have to be operational. They have to say: “Here is how we want our people to behave.” 

In software, you can trace customer’s needs to business requirements, technical requirements, and to code and test cases.

We also need BEHAVIORAL traceability. If we make values operational, we can trace them from training, to skills, to tools, to code, to requirements, and to everything we deliver.

Operational Values are things we all agree to. Is it harder? Absolutely. It’s way harder. Simpler? Way simpler. But, it’s worth the effort. 

By the way, I am speaking on "Values-based Engineering" at the GL-SPIN meeting in Rochester, MI on March 13. I’ll be expanding on some of the ideas we just covered. Join us if you can!


Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a 
Certified SCAMPI Lead AppraiserCertified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit 
www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategyperformance innovationsoftware process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Global Adoption of CMMI Performance Improvement Framework Continues to Rise

Reposted from: BusinessWire · Feb. 24, 2014 | Last Updated: Feb. 24, 2014 11:31 AM ET  

CMMI Institute announced today that a record number of Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) appraisals were completed in 2013 as organizations across the globe elevate organizational performance by adopting CMMI. The company also released the findings of a customer satisfaction survey using the Net Promoter® Score (NPS) methodology in which individuals who utilize CMMI rated CMMI as the world class means of improving organizational performance.
CMMI appraisals allow companies to measure their capability maturity against a defined framework of best practices. More than 1,600 appraisals were completed in 2013, the most ever done in one year and an 11% increase over 2012, the previous record year for appraisals. Of the 2013 appraisals nearly 40% were completed in China, where the widespread adoption of CMMI is driving economic growth and development across the region.
For complete story go to: http://t.co/LijVKa7L0Y
Just as a side-note, as a Lead Appraiser at Broadsword, I personally delivered 10 of those SCAMPI A's last year, in addition to about a dozen Class B and fifteen Class C Appraisals.
CMMI ROCKS!
Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead AppraiserCertified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategyperformance innovation , software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Finally, CMMI information for Extra-Small Companies!

Dear Readers,

If you work in an extra-small company with under 20 employees, and are interested in learning more about performance innovation and process improvement models, you’ve probably noticed there is not a lot of information about CMMI for companies your size. You may have even come to the conclusion that the CMMI is not appropriate for small companies – but that’s just one of the myths about to be SHATTERED!

Finally, for those in extra small companies who need to know EVERYTHING about the CMMI, Broadsword is pleased to announce that we are hosting FREE, LIVE Webinar on Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 1PM ET. Join us for “Shattering the Myths about CMMI and Extra Small Companies!”


You’ve heard the Myths:

  • CMMI is only for big companies
  • CMMI is too expensive to implement
  • CMMI and Agile don't go together
  • CMMI requires too much documentation
  • CMMI success is hard to achieve

Contrary to these common myths, in my work with companies in a broad range of industries, I’ve found that CMMI is actually more beneficial for small, agile organizations than for large ones. Small organizations are looking for the value and opportunity CMMI brings to their business. More and more are adopting the Model.

This FREE webinar sheds new light on how and why your extra small businesses can benefit from adopting the CMMI. You will learn about the true purpose of the CMMI, as well as how to avoid the pitfalls that keep many companies from even starting.

What: Free Webinar
When: Thursday, March 20, 2014 | 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM ET
Where: On your screen
How to register: Sign up here

Won’t you join us, and tell a friend in an extra small company? This Webinar just might change your perception about the CMMI, what it is, and how it can help you.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation , software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

To download eBooks about CMMI, visit Jeff’s Author Page on Amazon.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Does the CMMI require us to have a full time CMMI consultant?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, we’re a young company with a dozen FTEs. We see the value of adopting the CMMI, but lack the resources right now to bring on full time CMMI consultants to help us. Is there any way an extra small organization like ours can have a successful CMMI adoption? ~ software entrepreneur at a recent Conference

Dear Readers,

Welcome back to the studio for today’s episode of CMMI-TV. You know, in my travels around the country and planet, I meet a lot of executives who initially think it is not possible to have a successful CMMI adoption without incurring the heavy cost of a full time CMMI consultant. This is just one of the common myths about the CMMI and extra small companies (those with fewer than 20 people). Below is a video clip with my response to this myth, followed by a synopsis of my response. Enjoy!


OVERVIEW

Does CMMI require you to have consultants in your company help you achieve a level of the CMMI? Or is that a myth?

Some say they have a full time consulting presence on staff to help them achieve a level of the CMMI, but this CMMI Appraiser believes that only a MINIMAL consulting presence is required for you to be successful.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A CMMI CONSULTANT

If you only remember one thing from this video, remember this: The CMMI is not something that consultants can DO to you. It is something they can HELP you with it. Hopefully they can remove some roadblocks, and give you some good suggestions – but no one knows your organization as well as YOU do. Therefore, the internal people at your company are the best source of process improvement ideas.

WHAT NOT TO EXPECT

If you are going to use a CMMI consultant, DO use them to help you structure a program and go-forward plan to achieve a Maturity Level 2, Maturity Level 3, 4 or 5. But here are some DON’T do’s:

  • DON’T use CMMI consultants to write processes
  • DON’T let them tell you what the answers are
  • DON’T let them tell you what it is that you need to do to run your business to be successful

Only YOU can do those things. The engineers, management, project management and leadership of your organization are best suited to decide what best practices are likely to work best for you.

This is not to say that a consultant has no value. A consultant can help you get organized, and that can be extremely valuable, but DON’T lean on them too heavily to be successful with CMMI. Only a minimal consulting presence is required.

CONCLUSION

No matter what process improvement model you embrace or who helps you adopt it, the improvement of your company is up to YOU, not up to them.

For more information, register for our upcoming Webinar:

Shattering the Myths about CMMI and Extra Small Companies
March 17, 2014 (1-2PM EDT)

CMMI-TV is the free video series with the answers you’re looking for about Agile, CMMI and Performance Innovation. As a subscriber, you’ll be notified when we add new episodes to CMMI-TV and you’ll get links to other premium content, as well. Sign up here!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation , software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

To download eBooks about CMMI, visit Jeff’s Author Page on Amazon.