Friday, April 17, 2015

Small Company that needs CMMI? Announcing New Webinar in the "Everything You Need to Know" Series: "CMMI for Extra-Small Companies!"


Dear Readers,

Do you run an emerging or “extra-small” company with under 25 employees? Are you frustrated that you’re blocked from bidding on contracts you want because you haven’t figured out how to take advantage of the value of CMMI? Wouldn’t you like to remove the impediments, and grow?

Now you can.
Webinar: “Everything You Need to Know: CMMI for Extra-Small Companies
Date: April 29th, 2015 @ noon EDT
Registration: Sign up here

On “CMMI for Extra-Small Companies,” the third webinar in our “Everything You Need to Know” Series, you'll learn the secret to how IT and engineering firms under 25 people can afford to compete for government contracts that require CMMI ratings … and YOU can, too!

To date, the lack of information about CMMI for extra-small companies has caused a lot of entrepreneurs to come to the conclusion that the CMMI is not appropriate for small companies.  But that’s a MYTH blocking you from CMMI success.

This webinar helps you see that there are seven myths blocking your success, and shows you how to overcome the barriers, affordably, and grow.

Register for “CMMI for Extra-Small Companies

Note: Larger organizations interested in pursuing the benefits of a CMMI adoption are invited to visit our corporate web site at www.BroadswordSolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

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.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Why Attend CMMI Institute’s Global Congress? Reason #8


Dear Readers,

I don’t know about you, but I am REALLY looking forward to the CMMI Global Congress 2015 in Seattle on May 12-13! I keep running through of all the great things that will happen there. So, for those of you who have never been to the industry’s premier event, I decided to count down my list of Top 10 Reasons to attend Global Congress 2015.

Drum roll, please! Reason #8 is …

Come for the technical sessions, stay for the networking!

Formerly known as SEPG North America (I have always called it “The Greatest Show on Earth”), Global Congress 2015 continues to attract engineering and software professionals from some of the finest organizations in our country, and beyond. That makes the conference an outstanding place to network and develop new business relationships.

You’ll meet everyone from CMMI Lead Appraisers to CMMI program sponsors to people who are just learning how to spell “CMMI,” but who are attracted by the idea of using an evidence-based model that can guide them on the path to greatness They all come together out of a common interest in process, performance, and organizational improvement.

What's in it for you as a sponsor?

Some sponsors come to the Conference actively looking for a potential CMMI Institute Partner – and it’s a great place to find one. Some have already engaged a Partner, but I’ve found that there is plenty of opportunity for sponsors to meet Partners, and Partners to meet sponsors during the many technical presentation and networking events.

True story: Several years ago, when the Conference was held in Portland, I gave a presentation called “The Agile SCAMPI: Taming the Savage Beast.” There was a decent crowd (ok, some came just for the hats I was tossing out for free) and I hope they received some good information about making Appraisals simpler and more Agile.

One company in the audience was in the process of tackling a large-scale, multi-location process improvement initiative. They needed help with planning, training, and conducting a multi-site SCAMPI Appraisal. They had already zeroed in on a small set of Partners to choose from but after my speech they added me to the list. Just like that! I ultimately started working with them and it was a win for everyone involved.

What lesson did I learn from this? Come for the great technical sessions, but stay for the networking. You never know when you’re shaking hands with your next big client – or finding your next Partner.

Need more reasons to go? I’ll be back soon with Reason #7.

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.



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Why Attend CMMI Institute’s Global Congress? Reason #9

Dear Readers,

For over 25 years, the SEPG North America conference offered opportunities to connect, learn, and share with one another in the CMMI community. The conference has grown beyond software engineering and beyond North America. Next month, people from around the world who use CMMI across industries are uniting in conversation at the 2015 Global Congress, in Seattle, Washington.

Which brings me to Reason #9 in my Top 10 Reasons to attend CMMI Institute’s Global Congress 2015.  Reason #9 is …

Seattle is such a cool city!


At the conference, you’ll keep busy with all the presentations, technical sessions, breakout sessions, coaching and networking opportunities you can handle. Each is designed to equip you with implementable solutions that can help you achieve a positive return on your investment from process improvement. But you’ll have some free time, too, and may want to do some exploring.

From www.seattle.gov, here are some of the many unforgettable experiences awaiting you in Seattle:

SEATTLE ICONS

Space Needle
Seattle Great Wheel - The Seattle Waterfront ferris wheel
Famous Graves
Original Starbucks
Bill Gates House
EMP Museum
Hat N' Boots
Archie McPhee

VIEWS

Amongst the best things about Seattle are the wonderful mountain and water views. Here are links to some of the best places to enjoy Seattle's views.

Columbia Tower Observation Deck
There is an observation deck on the 73rd floor of Columbia Tower, at 701 Fifth Avenue, which offers views of Seattle and environs, along with a Starbucks coffee shop.

Smith Tower Observation Deck
The Smith Tower was once the tallest building west of the Mississippi. Its location near the downtown waterfront and Pioneer Square provides fantastic views of the City.

Space Needle Observation Deck
On the grounds of Seattle Center, the Space Needle Observation Deck provides 360 degree views from 520 feet above sea level. You can also view the webcam from the top of the space needle at this site.

Viewpoints
There are lovely viewpoints all over the City maintained by the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation. This site provides a comprehensive list of viewpoints with photos and directions.

DOWNTOWN SEATTLE AND WATERFRONT

Pioneer Square
Pike Place Market
Myrtle Edwards Park
Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Aquarium
Seattle Public Library
Seattle Underground Tour
Milepost 31
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park

… and much more. So come on out for the great presentations, technical sessions and powerful networking opportunities ... and stay for that one-of-a-kind Seattle cool factor.

Of course, there is so much to do at the Global Congress, you won’t want to stay away too long. Your CMMI Appraiser, Jeff Dalton from Broadsword, will be sharing ideas for "Questions Every Great Company Should Ask,” about transforming behaviors and putting you company on the path to greatness.

Broadsword’s Director of Strategic Solutions, Tim Zeller, is presenting, “Agile Transformation: Gaining or Maintaining CMMI,” about adopting new behaviors that will help your team take advantage of agile methods for a lighter, leaner approach to solving business problems incrementally and iteratively.


Click here to check out the agenda and speakers.

See you in Seattle!

Need more reasons to attend? Stay tuned for Reason #8!

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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Top 10 Reasons to Attend CMMI Institute’s Global Congress 2015!

Dear Readers,

Where on earth would you rather be on May 12-13 than Seattle, Washington, talking about the power of performance improvement and CMMI, with people like you and me, who get it?

Yes, indeed! It’s time again for the Greatest Show on Earth, a/k/a CMMI Institute’s Global Congress 2015. It’s been a while since we all got together, and we have so much to talk about!

That’s why my #10 Top Reason to Attend Global Congress 2015 is …

It’s a great place to have meaningful conversations.

It’s true. Every year, the industry’s preeminent CMMI conference draws a wide variety of engineering and software professionals, who come from a vast array of disciplines. Some want more information on multi-model approaches. Some are interested in practical process improvement, while others get passionate about using CMMI to transform from a Waterfall-based environment to an agile environment. And once you get me started on agile and CMMI, we may be at it for a while!

At the Global Congress this year, Partners and companies have even more to talk about than ever. We’ll discuss both principle and practice. We’ll talk about CMMI and process improvement. We’ll share best practices, tips and techniques. We’ll dig into what we’re all doing to deliver value. And we’ll have a back-and-forth on how to maximize impact and business results that we can all take home to our organizations.

This is Broadsword’s 10th CMMI conference, and this year I’ve been asked to deliver a keynote address on day two! We’ll be sharing our ideas on using agile methods and CMMI to implement process innovation solutions that improve software development and organizational processes, help transform behaviors and put you on the path to being the company you’ve always wanted to be.

Our Director of Strategic Solutions, Tim Zeller, is presenting, “Agile Transformation: Gaining or Maintaining CMMI.”  Tim will show you ways to think about adopting new behaviors that will help your team take advantage of agile methods for a lighter, leaner approach to solving business problems incrementally and iteratively.

So come on out to Seattle and talk with folks who understand.

Click here to register for the CMMI Institute’s Global Congress 2015.

Click here to check out the agenda and speakers.

Need more reasons to attend? Stay tuned for Reason #9

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.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Is agile dead?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – At industry conferences, I’m hearing that large agile adopters have already killed agile. I thought conventional wisdom said that agile is exploding exponentially in our industry. Is really agile dead? ~ Mike P.

Mike, it’s sad but true. Those days of freestyle boogie-boarding, drinking Jolt Cola, not writing anything down and “just coding” are gone forever. So let’s all pin split black ribbons on our overcoats and follow the jazz procession through the rain. Agile, as we knew it, is dead.


To your point, it is true that conventional wisdom says that agile is exploding exponentially in our industry. But if you look at it closely, you realize that agile is only exploding horizontally. It’s not exploding vertically. 

What does this mean? Agile is getting more adoption at the lower levels of companies, but it doesn’t have corporate support in the board room. And that’s a problem.

I know this from first-hand experience. Look at the agile thought leaders – Jeff Sutherland, Ron Jeffries, and Ken Schwaber. Great thinkers, authors and speakers. Some of the best agile people we have, and none of them has a ticket to a board room. None of them speak at conferences outside of agile software conferences. None of them are changing the way the large agile adopters do business. That’s because agile is not exploding vertically.

Have you ever had a customer (or manager, if you are an internal agile shop) say something like this to you:
  • “Let’s be more agile! But how about if we only have a weekly Standup?”
  • “Let’s transition all of our projects over to agile by February!”
  • “Sure, go ahead and be agile! Just don’t bother the customer!”
  • “Be agile! Be CMMI Level 3! Be mature … by Tuesday!”
  • “Be agile! And use project managers!”

What the heck does all that mean? It means that agile is not exploding vertically. It’s not reaching upward to senior management. That’s because the people running companies and controlling our budgets have killed agile.

But if we are going to bring agile back to life, we’ve got to strengthen agile and make it resilient with CMMI.

This comes as news to some folks. They don’t realize that CMMI and agile work beautifully together, and are both about the same thing: solving business problems. For example, here are some of the business problems agile and CMMI were designed to solve:
  • Late requirements
  • Misunderstood requirements
  • Late projects
  • Over budget projects
  • Defects in software
  • In the dark about projects
  • Too many meetings
Notice, all of these are problems that exist in every software project. There isn’t a software project on the planet that doesn’t suffer from those problems. The question is, how do we manage them?

Agile methods are an excellent way to manage software project using iterative and incremental techniques such as Scrum, Spiral and XP. And CMMI is an excellent tool to both improve upon how you adopt those methods, and how you fill in any gaps you (or your management) might have.

CMMI helps you understand how well agile methods are working for you. It helps you communicate important information to other stakeholders like Management, Customers and Accounting. And when you are ready to test your agile methods, go ahead and schedule a CMMI Appraisal.

Many of my agile purista friends argue that all that matters is what goes on inside a Scrum team. Some insist that no one else is allowed into their Daily Standup. This just is not realistic in the real world, and it's not useful. Customers, management, accounting and marketing all have a legitimate stake in software projects, no matter how annoying their directives to “go agile” seem to be.

The most useful approach is to strengthen agile and make it resilient using the CMMI as a guide. This allows us to receive all of the benefits these frameworks are intended to provide: higher quality products, faster delivery, and predictable, repeatable results. And it allows us to bring agile back to life.

For more information about using CMMI and agile together, check out this Wednesday's Webinar: "Everything You Need to Know: Agile Transformation" on 4/15 @ noon EDT.

Viva agile!

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.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

CMMI-TV: What is the secret to saving agile?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, what’s the secret to saving agile? ~ NY-SPIN Attendee

Dear Readers,

Today’s episode of CMMI-TV was filmed ON LOCATION at an NY-SPIN event in New York City, where I presented on “Agile Resiliency.” A participant asked for the secret to saving Agile. Below is a video clip with my answer, followed by a synopsis of my response. Enjoy!




OVERVIEW

What we’re really after is getting consistent results by strengthening the Agile ceremonies.

CMMI is a really cool tool for that, because there are over 350 practices in Level 2 and Level 3 that we can apply to make the Agile ceremonies super strong and resilient, such as:

  • Planning Poker
  • Refractoring
  • Velocity
  • Sprint Demos
  • Pair Programming
  • Test-Driven Development

WHY BOTHER MAKING AGILE STRONGER?

Why do we want to make our agile practices strong and resilient?

  • So that a retrospectives really makes us better as a company
  • So that our planning really is accurate
  • So that our estimating really is accurate

MASSIVE CHANGE COMING

A big change is happening in our market and the influence of some of the newer players – such as the federal government, and big defense contractors – who are demanding that their vendors “go agile.” They are bringing $20B a year in pressure to our industry.

In my opinion, this why we need a resilient model. Right now, agile is a loose collection of methods and tools, by definition. And, yes, there’s a lot of fear in our industry that too much structure will cause problems.

But the simple truth is this. If we want agile to remain agile, we need to agree on a resilient model that can withstand all of the attempts of these new players to change our values. It is time to start building resilient agile architecture.

THE SECRET TO SAVING AGILE

The secret to saving agile is not to make it look like Waterfall, which is where we’ve been going. The secret to saving Agile is to make it strong and resilient and powerful, so that it works everywhere, and it’s reliable. We can prove to the Board room that it’s actually an industrial strength approach. We’re not doing that now. Unless you are working in the smallest company, if you think your senior manager is on board with Agile – I can promise you, he’s not.

I’ve been the CIO of three different companies. They don’t know what Agile is. When they hear “Agile,” they think “faster and cheaper.” So if I say, “I can give you software faster and cheaper,” the CIO will say, “I don’t care how you do it – just give it to me faster and cheaper.”

INVITATION

Anyone interested more discussion about Agile and CMMI is invited to sign up for this month’s Webinar, “Everyting You Need to Know: Agile Transformation!”

WEBINAR INFO

What: Everything You Need to Know: Agile Transformation!
When: April 15th at noon EDT
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 running a successful CMMI and performance improvement program.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

So you need to know EVERYTHING about CMMI?

Dear Readers,

So you need to know EVERYTHING about CMMI …

Have we got the deal for you! Our popular, highly informative Webinar in the “Everything You Need to Know” Webinar series, “CMMI!” is back and better than ever! You’ll learn everything you need to know about getting started with CMMI. And best of all ... it's FREEEEEEEEE!


Registration is now open for “Everything You Need to Know: CMMI!” on Wednesday, April 22nd, at noon EDT.

Click HERE to sign up!

In this practical, fast-paced presentation, you’ll learn how to leverage the architectural strengths of the CMMI to bring about the transformation of the culture of your company. You’ll come away with strategies, tips and insights for improving your organization by getting better at what you’re ALREADY doing.

Are you new to CMMI? Welcome aboard! This Webinar shows you how to use CMMI to transform the culture of your company, so that you can say goodbye to chaos, “process debt” and unpredictable outcomes. You’ll learn to improve and change the way your company behaves, so that you build better products, win new business and retain the customers you have.

Have you been working with CMMI for a while? That’s great! You’ll still want to check out the Webinar, where you are bound to hear some ideas that you haven't considered before, that will help you get better at what you are ALREADY doing.

Your speaker is Jeff Dalton of "Ask the CMMI Appraiser." Jeff is a Certified Lead Appraiser and CMMI Instructor. He has conducted hundreds of CMMI Appraisals and taught thousands of students in his CMMI Training classes. He is a process innovation thought-leader and CMMI Consultant who has been a keynote speaker at conferences and workshops around the world.

Don't miss this informative event! Register 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 running a successful CMMI and performance improvement program.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

How can we go agile while maintaining visibility into our projects?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – We are a CMMI Maturity Level 2 rated IT firm in Alexandria, Virginia. We have been experimenting with Scrum and would like to transition the entire organization to agile, but I am concerned that our managers will not be able to know what is happening with agile projects. How do we go agile and keep the visibility we need? ~ Susan T.

Hey Susan,

Great question! In my work with companies large and small all over the world, and as a former CIO and VP of Engineering, I have found that the inability to get good information is at the root of nearly every business problem. No one can make the right business decisions without the right information, and you are wise to assess this risk before going agile.


Here’s how to assure you are successful in your agile transformation. First, understand why this perceived lack of visibility happens on agile projects.

As you may know, Scrum teams operate very differently from teams operating in a traditional Waterfall environment. They tend to be self-organizing, independent, process-light, and quick to adapt. They have an iterative and incremental way of getting work done, which typically does not include things like weekly status reporting and weekly meetings. Most of them don’t even have a project manager (oh, the horrors!).

So, when you go agile, how will you get the information you need to run the business?

Since you've already adopted the CMMI at your company, one solution is to integrate Scrum and CMMI. At my company, Broadsword, we do just that. We strengthen Scrum with the CMMI, based on the needs of our company.

For example, let’s take one popular aspect of Scrum, the Daily Stand-up. Scrum Teams opt for Daily Stand-ups as opposed to the traditional sit-down status meetings. When you go agile, you want to incorporate this behavior because it's a powerful construct for communications and risk management. And you want to use the CMMI as a framework to make sure you are talking, in a very light and agile way, about things in the Daily Stand-up that are really important. Then, most importantly, you’ll want to share that information with the right people in the company.

Applying the guidance of the CMMI to the Daily Stand-up gives us two major advantages. One, by using the simple Daily Stand-up mechanism, we get a really crisp, robust view of the project, so we can understand what’s going on in real-time. We understand it early, and we understand it often. And two, by adopting some of the best practices that the CMMI provides, we get more value out of the Daily Stand-up than we would have without CMMI.

This is just a glimpse of all you can do with agile and CMMI, Susan. For more information on using CMMI to guide your agile transformation, I encourage you to check out the highly popular Webinar in our “Everything You Need to Know” Series: “Agile Transformation!”

What: “Everything You Need to Know. Agile Transformation!”
When: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at noon EDT
Cost: FREE!

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 running a successful CMMI and performance improvement program.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Just the FAQs: What's the value in tailoring and tailoring guidelines?

[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 CMMI, SCAMPI, engineering strategy and software process improvement. This month Pat discusses the new "Action Plan Re-Appraisal." Take it away! ~ the CMMI Appraiser]

We’re struggling with “tailoring” and “tailoring guidelines.” We think we understand the concepts, but we can’t seem to find the value. What are we missing?

[Note: Jeff addressed much of this in “Just the FAQs #06: What can we learn about process architecture from Justin Bieber?” It’s a terrific article, and if you haven’t watched the YouTube video that he included at the end, stop reading and watch it – it’s a hoot!]


PAT: I actively participate in many of the CMMI‐related Yahoo and LinkedIn forums. I’ve noticed that in many of the exchanges, participants tend to talk past, rather than to, one another, as illustrated in the following fictitious exchange:

A: Our lead appraiser said that we don’t have to perform some of the CMMI practices and we can still get our maturity level.

B: Well THAT’s not right – unless, of course, you are performing alternative practices instead.

A: Nope, he said we are not expected to have alternative practices in place either.

B: Your lead appraiser is dead wrong and should have his certification revoked!

This seemingly meaningful conversation goes back and forth for some time until…

A: Yeah, well, we are going for ML2 and he says that none of the ML3, ML4, or ML5 practices have to be performed – in fact, he won’t even be looking at them during our appraisal.

B: Oh, uh, well, never mind…

The point is that context is important!

Keeping that in mind, consider that “tailoring” can be performed at various levels of process decomposition, and you really have to understand the context in which tailoring is being discussed in order to have a meaningful dialogue. As I see it, there are four layers of tailoring:

First, there’s MEGA‐“T” tailoring – essentially, selecting a life cycle. Whether you are consciously aware of it or not, once you’ve chosen a given development life cycle, a whole lot of rituals associated with all of the other life cycles approved for use have just been tailored out. One could think of this as “tailoring with an ax.”

Next, there is CAPITAL‐“T”, or phase‐level tailoring. In very small projects, for example, the tailoring guidelines may allow the Requirements and Design phases to be combined into a single “Desirements” phase. Similarly, verification and validation activities might also be conducted in an integrated manner.

One could think of this as “tailoring with a knife.” Then there is small‐“t” tailoring – selecting among various methods within a given phase ‐ combining High Level Design and Low Level Design specs, for example, or selecting either formal inspection, desk‐check review, or buddy review for verifying a given document. This is probably what most people think about when they hear the word, “tailoring.” One might think of this as “tailoring with scissors.”

Finally, there is micro‐“t” tailoring – adjustments that are made much closer to the bottom of the food chain. For example, your formal inspection process may indicate that the work product to be inspected must be pre‐published at least 3.17 days in advance of the inspection meeting, thereby giving the participants adequate time to prepare. However, a tailoring guideline may indicate that the item can be pre‐published with less lead time provided each participant explicitly agrees that the truncated review period still provides them adequate preparation time. One might think of this as “tailoring with a needle.”

Until you establish the proper context for a given tailoring discussion, people may be doing a lot of talking, but very little communicating.

. . . . .

OK, now that I’ve (successfully?) argued that context is important to conduct a meaningful conversation about tailoring, let me set the context for what I see as one of the primary stumbling blocks with respect to deriving maximum value from the “tailoring guidelines” implemented by many/most organizations – the source of which is found in the last bit of the CMMI Glossary’s definition: “Tailoring guidelines describe what can and cannot be modified and identify components that are candidates for modification.”

Having conducted a ton of appraisals targeting ML3 or higher, I’ve noticed a couple of recurring themes when it comes to tailoring guidelines – both of which appear to align much too closely to this portion of the Glossary definition.

One of the recurring themes I see is sets of tailoring guidelines that indicate which process elements are mandatory, which are strongly encouraged, and which can be tailored out. These are clearly delineated by CMMI process area to ensure full credit is given to all GP3.1 practices when conducting an appraisal. This aligns much too closely with that bit in the Glossary that indicates “tailoring guidelines describe what can and cannot be modified.”

The other recurring theme I see is use of an Excel spreadsheet that lists every conceivable arrow in the organization’s process quiver. It includes every policy, life cycle description, process document, methodology, workflow, procedure, work instruction, guideline, template, form, checklist, metric, bathroom stall number, etc. that can be selected. The project manager is expected to meticulously mark those elements that the she intends to use. This theme aligns much too closely with that bit in the Glossary that indicates, “Tailoring guidelines… identify components that are candidates for modification.” Well, it’s more “inclusion” than “modification,” but the point still stands – explicit decisions are made regarding the project’s means of conducting its business – its “defined process.”

(Note: organizations having trouble conjuring up uses of formal decision making are likely to use DAR to make the tailoring decisions on each project – thereby bagging an appraisal twofer!)

Having a list of mandatory, suggested, and optional process elements provides some modest value, as does using the 1000+ row Excel checklist to make explicit project decisions regarding process element inclusion. But, like you, I believe there is more value to be had from the concept of tailoring.

Let me try to make the point by relying on everyone’s my favorite analogy – marathon running! Most long distance runners are concerned about the “Five H’s” – hills, heat, humidity, height (altitude), and head winds. Two of the five, hills and height, are attributes of the course and can be considered well in advance. The other three, heat, humidity, and head winds, are race day attributes – and, weather forecasts notwithstanding, you really won’t know what you’re up against until the day of the race.

Magazines like “Runner’s World” have lots of articles dedicated to such topics:

  • Heat and How to Handle It
  • Don’t Sweat Running in Humidity
  • Running Against the Wind

These articles, written by very experienced marathoners, share secrets, hints, and tips about adjustments you may want to consider due to race‐day conditions. The author’s objective is to arm you with information based on their tried‐and‐true experience, but the decision to follow their advice or not is entirely up to you. After all, what works for them might not work for you.

So why not apply this same value‐added concept to process tailoring? In addition to following the standard script for establishing bland and boring tailoring guidelines (the one you know will pass the appraisal), why not write your own “articles” filled with tailoring guidance. Organizations that adopt such a “tips and hints” approach typically find it much more valuable than those that only follow the more mechanistic approaches above. Your project retrospectives, lesson learned sessions, or, my favorite, project post mortems (yet another project has died; let’s examine the corpse and see what we can find) will evolve from generating a repeatable list of what did and didn’t go well on the project, to lively discussions that also explore the question, “If we knew then what we know now, what might we have done differently?”

Like the “Runner’s World” articles, tailoring guidance is intended to provide experiential insight for future projects’ consideration. Codifying the secrets, hints, and tips of how to tailor project activities to overcome the inevitable hills, heat, humidity, height, and head winds will arm the next project team with advice that should make it easier for them to go the distance, and hopefully that’s the value that you were looking for.

Like this post?  Please forward to your nearest engineering or software professional!

© Copyright 2015: 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!

Friday, April 3, 2015

One Minute to Performance Innovation - What's the best way to establish a policy?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, What's the best way to establish a policy? ~ Senior VP, Fortune 500 Company

Dear Readers,

Today’s episode of One Minute to Performance Improvement was filmed ON LOCATION at the airport in Detroit, Michigan, where your CMMI Appraiser just got off the phone with a client, who asked, "What's the best way to establish a policy?"  Below is a video clip of my response, and, below that, a quick summary. Enjoy!


Jeff Dalton from Ask the CMMI Appraiser, on his way to visit a client, on a moving walk.

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

What’s the best way to represent a policy?  The answer depends on several other questions, including:

  • How you define a policy?
  • What is it that you want a policy to do?
  • How will you communicate a policy?

GREAT MISUNDERSTANDING 

People often think that adopting the CMMI means they have to have "binders full of processes."  They tend to treat every project – even projects as small as mapping a desktop computer to a printer – as though they were building a space shuttle.  It doesn't have to be that way.

AIRPORT POLICIES

Looking around the airport, one sees evidence of an organization doing a great job of defining and communicating their policies, such as: ‘Do not accept any bags that do not belong to you’ and 'Please watch your step as you exit the moving walk.'

Instead of having a policy in some dusty old binder, put it in a sign on the wall, put it in newsletters, in a video, or in a recording, where it can be useful and used by people.

CONCLUSION:

Whether your goals are to successfully deliver software, achieve a CMMI “certificate” or rating, develop a strategic weapon to help you attract and retain new customers, or get on the path to becoming a great company, the CMMI can help.

Find out more about CMMI on our upcoming Webinar:

Webinar: “Everything You Need to Know. CMMI!"
When: April 22 @noon EDT
Cost: FREE!

Hope to see you on the Webinar!

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 running a successful CMMI and performance improvement program.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Help! We missed the “Agile Transformation” Webinar! How can we get it?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – we need help. We weren’t able to attend last week’s “Agile Transformation” Webinar, even though, as a Waterfall-based company that has recently achieved a CMMI Maturity Level 3, we thought it sounded perfect for us. How can we get it? ~ Dmitri F.

Hey, Dmitri,

Good news! Since we presented the “Everything You Need to Know: Agile Transformation!” Webinar to a record crowd in March, we’ve had many so emails like yours from folks who missed it, that we decided to present again this month:

What: “Everything You Need to Know: Agile Transformation!” Webinar
When: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 at noon EDT
Register: Click here


Why the big push to "Go Agile"?

In the last decade or so, the software engineering community has begun to embrace a set of iterative and incremental deliver methods known collectively as “Agile.” Now more than ever, engineering and software professionals all over the world are hearing their customer say they want their suppliers to “Go Agile.”

What does this mean for a CMMI Maturity Level 2 or Maturity Level 3 organization with a Waterfall approach – particularly one that is currently struggling to improve requirements churn and volatility, meet schedule and budget, and perform the work you do every day?

It means you can learn to solve these business problems and more by participating in the Everything You Need to Know: Agile Transformation!” Webinar.

“Agile Transformation” is about adopting new behaviors that will help your team be more agile. The Webinar helps you learn to become the company you want to be by transforming the values and behaviors in your organization to take advantage of Agile methods for a lighter, leaner approach to solving business problems incrementally and iteratively. Designed specifically for Waterfall organizations that have a CMMI Maturity Level 2 or Level 3 rating and want to transition to an Agile environment without disrupting the business, “Agile Transformation” gives you everything you NEED to get started!

Don’t miss our second presentation of Agile Transformation! Sign up for free right 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 running a successful CMMI and performance improvement program.

Friday, March 27, 2015

What ELSE do we need to know about CMMI before we get started?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – We are very excited about adopting CMMI. Before we get started, would you give us a quick summary of the most important things to know about CMMI that you mentioned on the Webinar? ~ Ty D., Jay B, Teri I and Lou B.

Hey, Ty, Jay, Teri and Lou. Thanks for being on the Webinar. It’s amazing how much better it goes for companies that want to change behaviors when their people are passionate about adopting innovative performance improvement frameworks, like CMMI, as the four of you clearly are.

To recap what I said on the Webinar, there are several things you need to understand before you get started with adopting CMMI.


Don’t approach CMMI like it is a process. CMMI is not a process. CMMI is Model that helps guide us in the process and engineering approach we are going to follow. It isn’t something we follow. It is a framework that gives us guidance for improving the processes we already have. Some might say, “Wait … I already have processes?” Yes, you sure do. You may not have them written down. You may not have them fully fleshed out. But you are ALREADY doing most of the things in the Model in some way. You just have to flesh it out and make the connections. 

Focus on changing behavior. The CMMI is really about changing your culture, not filling out forms, but you wouldn’t know this if you listened in on some of the calls I get. Someone finds us online, calls up and says, “What templates should I use to be CMMI Level 2.” I respond by saying, “Well, what templates can you use to be a great company?” It’s rhetorical; there really aren’t any. I’d rather you use zero templates if attempting to get a Level is all you are going to use them for. Now, don’t get me wrong. Templates are useful for training people, and helping guide people on what you want them to do, but they don’t really drive behavior. I’ve seen plenty of templates get filled out without the actual associated behavior being conducted. Templates don’t always solve your problem, although they can help you.

Go for greatness. CMMI is really focused on helping your company be a great company. If you can do that, fantastic! Focus on that, not the Levels and Maturity Ratings. The Levels and Maturity Ratings will come if you become a great company. It’s really easier to focus on being good at what you do, rather than try to mock it up just to pass an appraisal at some point.

Use the “secret sauce.” The most important part of CMMI is the “secret sauce” of the Model, or the Generic Practices (GPs). There are 12 GPs in CMMI. Those are the high level areas of guidance that can make you great. Focus on the GPs, and you’ll definitely be successful in getting started with the Model.

Involve your senior management. CMMI isn’t something you push up hill. Rather, it involves company culture and company values, and is guided by the 3-tiered architecture – the framework of values, methods and techniques you use. As engineers, we’re really only responsible for the techniques. We can’t get much higher than that. We really need our senior management involved to set the tone for the values and methods we’ll follow as an organization.

Figure out why you are getting a Level. I get a lot of calls from people saying, “Yeah, we need to get a Level. My boss says we need to get a Level.” I ask them, “Why are you getting a level?” They’re not really sure. But it’s important that you have a good business reason for doing this. Adopting CMMI is not a small investment. It’s not something you do casually.

Be realistic about the timing. Another typical call I get is from someone who says, “Can you come next week or next month and do an appraisal?” The answer is almost always no. Most legitimate, successful Lead Appraisers in our business will tell you that six-to-twelve months is not uncommon as a window for us to start working with a company. I’ve already got appraisals booked out at the end of this year, and 2016. It’s not something that gets done at the last minute. There is a lengthy time of development.

Remember, Ty and Lou, adopting the CMMI is 100% about solving business problems. It’s not about documents. But the more we use it, and the more we work with companies that are using the CMMI, the more we realize that this is a model that's about how great companies perform.

So whether your goals are to successfully deliver software, achieve a CMMI “certificate” or rating, develop a strategic weapon to help you attract and retain new customers, or get on the path to becoming a great company, the CMMI can help.

That should get you started!

Anyone who missed the Webinar is invited to get started with CMMI by choosing a free Webinar in our "Everything You Need to Know” Series, by clicking 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 running a successful CMMI and performance improvement program.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What does it take to have a successful Agile Transformation?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – A lot of us are frustrated with Waterfall, and momentum is building inside the company for Agile. What does it take for an ML3 organization to transition from Waterfall to Agile? ~ Emily K.

Hey, Emily,

As I say to every software and engineering professional who dreams of escaping the heavy-handed, command-and-control Waterfall practices and embracing all the benefits of being Agile: You CAN get there. You just need a path.


Along your journey are many important steps. Transforming your organization takes training and preparation. It takes being tested with assessments on your readiness to adopt Agile. And it takes professional consulting to guide your Agile Transformation with the rigor and structure of CMMI, since that is the scalable operational framework that your organization has chosen to pursue for your performance improvement model.

What does it take to do it right? Find out by signing up for the newest Webinar in our “Everything You NEED to Know” Series: “Agile Transformation!”

Everything You Need to Know. Agile Transformation!
Thursday, March 26, 2015 at noon EDT.

“Agile Transformation” is a practical and timely Webinar that helps you learn to adopt the behaviors and do the work that needs to be done to “go agile” in a way that makes sense for your organization. On the Webinar, you'll begin to understand how to transform the values and behaviors in your organization and take advantage of Agile methods for a lighter, leaner approach to solving business problems incrementally and iteratively.

See you on the Webinar!

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 running a successful CMMI and performance improvement program.

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Time for "Agile Transformation!" the Webinar

Dear Readers,

Do you dream of escaping the heavy-handed, command-and-control Waterfall practices, and embracing all the benefits of being Agile? A lot of engineering and software professionals I talk to say they do. They want to be able to try new ways of working, such as:

  • Using Daily standups, sprint demos and retrospectives to give control that is not illusory, but real
  • Expending effort only on things that really add value
  • Managing risks more effectively while they teach their teams to “fail fast, fail early”

You can learn to guide your organization’s transformation from a Waterfall to Agile environment by registering for “Agile Transformation!” a new Webinar in our “Everything You Need to Know” Series.



Sign-up now for “Agile Transformation!

“Agile Transformation” is about changing behaviors and doing the work that needs to be done to “go Agile” in a way that makes sense for your organization. Designed for companies that are dealing with recurring problems such as improving requirements churn and volatility, meeting schedule and budget, and performing the work they do every day, the Webinar shows you how to take advantage of Agile methods for a lighter, leaner approach to solving business problems.

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 running a successful CMMI and performance improvement program.

Friday, March 20, 2015

CMMI-TV: Are Scrum and CMMI at Cross-Purposes?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, are Scrum and CMMI at cross-purposes? I thought Scrum was essentially a free-for-all and CMMI is essentially about everybody doing the same thing. They're in conflict, right? ~ NY-SPIN Attendee

Dear Readers,

Today’s episode of CMMI-TV was filmed ON LOCATION at an NY-SPIN event in New York City, where I presented on “Agile Resiliency.” A participant asked if Scrum and CMMI were at cross-purposes. Below is a video clip with my answer, followed by a synopsis of my response. Enjoy!



OVERVIEW

There’s a misconception that exists in our industry. Organizations think Scrum is about one thing and CMMI is about another. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are both about the same thing

WRONG IDEAS ABOUT SCRUM

Scrum is not a free-for-all where agile teams do whatever they want, don’t write anything down, don’t follow any rules, and just write code. That’s not what it is.

WRONG IDEAS ABOUT CMMI

Likewise, CMMI is not a death march that saps our powers and turns us all into zombies, forcing us all to do everything the same way.  That's not what CMMI is all about.

WHAT SCRUM AND CMMI ARE ABOUT

Both Scrum and CMMI have a marketing problem. Not a feature problem, a marketing problem, because they are both about the same thing. CMMI and Agile are both about solving business problems, including:

  • Late requirements
  • Misunderstood requirements
  • Late projects
  • Over budget
  • Defects in our software
  • In the dark about projects
  • Too many meetings

All of these things are problems that exist in every software project. There isn’t a software project on the planet that doesn’t suffer from every one of those problems.

I go to a lot of clients and do CMMI Appraisals, and at the end of 3-4 days of working with them, I say, “Ahem, your projects are little late sometimes, and your requirements aren’t clear …”

It's the same exact problems in every single software project. If you don’t have those problems, you are either not paying attention or you are telling a story. Every software project has these problems. The question is, how do we manage them?

Both agile and CMMI are there for solving problems.

INVITATION

Anyone interested in learning how to lead the transformation of your organization to Agile is invited to sign up for this month’s new Webinar in the "Everything You Need to Know" Series, “Agile Transformation.”

WEBINAR INFO

When: Thursday, March 26, 2015 at noon EDT
Cost: FREE!

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 running a successful CMMI and performance improvement program.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Our 7th eBook Is Now Available on Amazon: “Just the FAQs”!

Dear Readers,

We’re excited to announce the publication of our 7th agileCMMI eBook: “Just the FAQs”!

In “Just The FAQs,” my good friend Pat O’Toole and I join forces to share a series of short stories from different perspectives about process improvement, CMMI, and Agile development. We address common misconceptions, myths, and fundamental misunderstandings that persist with the software and engineering professions. And we have a good time doing it!

Click here for your copy of "Just the FAQs".



“Just the FAQs” is a compendium of stories written in 2014-15 that have been distributed individually as part of a series, right here on Ask the CMMI Appraiser. The stories are now available in eBook format as a collection. To purchase for 99 cents on Amazon, click here.

What you’ll find in the book:

  • Why should Agile teams care about the CMMI Practices?
  • What can we learn about Process Architecture from Justin Bieber?
  • How expensive are SCAMPI A appraisals?
  • How to get value from Requirements Development with Agile teams?

Get the facts!  "Just the FAQs"!

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

© Copyright 2015: Process Assessment, Consulting & Training and Broadsword Solutions

“Just the FAQs” is written/edited by Pat O’Toole of PACT and Jeff Dalton of Broadsword. 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!