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!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

CMMI-TV: What do you do when management doesn't "get" Agile?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, how do you deal with management not understanding the work of their agile teams? ~ 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 how to deal with a situation where management doesn’t understand what agile development teams are doing. Below is a video clip with my answer, followed by a synopsis of my response. Enjoy!



OVERVIEW OF THE PROBLEM

The problem is, while we’re all off iterating, the business is all off Waterfalling.

In other words, we’re in our development teams, cruising along Sprint 93, doing our backlog, having fun with backlog grooming and everything else we do, and the accountants are up there in the management suite, saying, “I don’t know what those kids are up to down there, but I don’t like it.”

CONSEQUENCES

As a result, we’re starting to see companies build in multiple layers of management. It might look something like this:

Let’s say you’ve got five Scrum teams. Now the company layers on two project managers. The project managers create a MS Project work plan. They create a risk log. They do all the documentation. They manage everything. They even translate story points into hours. This is a bad idea, but they do it.

In consequence, we now have companies in Washington saying, “One story point is one day of work.”

UNHAPPY OUTCOME

As engineers, let’s reverse engineer what that type of behavior does to agile. If we are going to create story points and time, and put them in the same box, we’re going to destroy the equilibrium of agile completely – and that’s exactly what we don’t want to happen.

INVITATION

Anyone interested in learning how to lead a proper transformation your organization to agile is invited to sign up for this month’s new Webinar, “Agile Transformation.”

WEBINAR INFO

What: “Everything You Need to Know. Agile Transformation!
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.

Monday, March 16, 2015

JUST THE FAQs: How do the Generic Practices help us make Agile better?

[Dear Readers, "Just the FAQs” is our monthly series of CMMI-related posts. Over the recent months, our good friend Pat O’Toole, CMMI expert and seasoned consultant, has been collaborating with us on these posts. Our goal here is to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions about the CMMI, SCAMPI, engineering strategy and software process improvement. This month, I discuss how the Generic Practices guide your Agile implementation ~ the CMMI Appraiser]

Reader: I’ve read some articles about how the CMMI can help make Agile better, but I don’t really see how the generic practices fit in, or how we should comply with them. Should I just ignore them?

Jeff: Not only do the generic practices “fit,” they should have been named the Most Important Practices in Agile! **Note to self: send that suggestion in to the CMMI NextGen team!

While the CMMI can help any organization improve and identify their “state of maturity,” the Generic Practices represent solid value to Agile teams – they are what make it real. 

It has been said that Agile teams don’t like process. It’s too heavy, top-down and “command and control” for their style of software development. But “ceremonies,” like sprint planning, daily standups, retrospectives, and sprint demos are simply group behaviors, and behaviors are nothing more than processes – so OF COURSE they like process! Furthermore, if Agile ceremonies are processes, and the Generic Practices are intended to enable them, it follows that these are the precise tools we need to instill a higher level of capability to Agile methods. So bring them on!


Here are 12 ideas that you can take back to your office right now to improve the state of your Agile implementation:

Idea #1: Work with your management team to establish a clear set of common values that include: transparency, collaboration, failing–fast, iterative and incremental, and a strong bias towards spending more effort writing software than writing documentation.

This, of course, is an Agile implementation of Generic Practice 2.1 “Establish an Organizational Policy” that can leverage practices in Organizational Process Focus and Organizational Process Definition to make it real with supporting processes and tools. So, instead of saying “Policies? We’ve got binders full of ‘em!” focus on the values instead.

Idea #2: Establish a precise model for the different levels of planning that your team is going to perform. Release Planning, Sprint Planning, and planning for the tasks associated with each User Story are a few examples. Those plans include the who, what, where, and how of each level. Develop a clear requirements architecture for customer needs, epics, and user stories, including a “definition of ready” for each one, as well as the estimation methods that are going to be used for each. Establish an agreement with your team on how each aspect of the software engineering process is going to work: how is code going to be written? How are code reviews going to be conducted? How is testing going to work within each Sprint?

I call these “the “CMMI Questions.” Instead of slavishly complying with the practices, turn them into questions to be answered by the team.

In this case, the questions are about Generic Practice SP2.2 “Plan the Process,” supported by Project Planning, Project Monitoring and Control, Integrated Project Management, Risk Management, Technical Solution, and almost every other Process Area in the CMMI!

Idea #3: Procure all of the resources to support the items identified in Idea #2. These might include: co-located workspace, planning poker decks, pair programming desks, software tools such as Sharepoint, Jira or Team Foundation Server, and the funding for the various tools, resources, facilities and other components required to execute the ceremonies and events.

This idea is an Agile manifestation of Generic Practice 2.3 Provide Resources, along with its related Process Areas Supplier Agreement Management, Project Planning, Integrated Project Management, Technical Solution, and others.

Idea #4: Some are under the impression that because Agile teams are “self organizing,” that means that it is less disciplined, but nothing could be further from the truth. A crisp understanding of each person’s role, responsibility, and authority is essential to any successful Agile team, even more than in a traditional software development environment. Product Owners must be free to make product decisions, Scrum Masters need to be able to freely coach teams during each ceremony, and team members need to step-up as they self-subscribe to each story or task. Personal responsibility is everything for an Agile team, and without a clear definition of roles teams cannot be successful.

You guessed it! The CMMI called this one, too, with Generic Practice 2.4 Assign Responsibility, along with the related practices in Project Planning and Integrated Project Management.

Idea #5: Suck it up and train people. Train them to be Product Owners and Scrum Masters. Most importantly, train teams to be self-disciplined, empowered Agile citizens that trust the process and live the Agile values from Idea #1 everyday. 

This is Generic Practice GP2.5 Train People, with the related Process Area Organizational Training. If you do nothing else, do this. Do. It. Now.

Idea #6: Agile teams like to use “information radiators.” No problem! If you make a decision to use sticky notes and a scrum board, use a camera to capture that information and store it in a repository so that other parts of your organization can benefit from that information. If not, use a tool like Jira or TFS to record information while you create (and share) burn-down and burn-up charts, epics, stories, and tasks. The same goes for the information that is generated from Idea #2. Record your process definitions in a common repository so that you, and other teams, can benefit from the assets you’ve developed.

For more information see Generic Practice 2.6 Control Work Products, and the related Process Areas Configuration Management, Project Planning, and Organizational Process Definition.

Idea #7: Most of what’s been written about Agile teams focuses on the “nuclear” scrum team, but every project has external stakeholders who need to have input and participation with the project. For instance, you might have a group of people who focus on continuous build/continuous integration, or attendees at a Sprint demo that need to be in attendance to provide useful and meaningful input.

Generic Practice GP2.7 Identify and Involve Relevant Stakeholders, along with the related Process Areas Project Planning, Integrated Project Management, Validation, and Verification can provide some of the guidance you’ll need.

Idea #8: How was your Agile team performing? Are they meeting Sprint commitments? Are customers satisfied with the prioritization of user stories? Are they inserting stories mid-sprint? Do the user stories meet the definition of done? Inquiring minds want to know! 

This is my favorite practice in the CMMI model: Generic Practice GP2.8 Monitor and Control the process, along with its related Process Area Measurement and Analysis. Without this, how do we even know that we’re doing the right things? Special note: If Maturity Level 4 or 5 are in your future, pay close attention to this one!

Idea #9: Since Agile requires personal discipline it makes sense to me that we occasionally evaluate the behaviors of Agile teams to ensure that healthy self-discipline exists. Given the value that Agile teams place on a “high-trust” environment, they are usually loath to accept the idea of project audits, but there are many ways to objectively evaluate team performance. With a focus on mentoring, coaching, and improving the discipline of Agile teams, look to the values from Idea #1 to ensure you are getting at what’s important.

The CMMI nails this with Generic Practice GP2.9 Objectively Evaluate Adherence, and the related Process Area Process and Product Quality Assurance.

Idea #10: While Agile has grown exponentially across project teams, it hasn’t been quite as successful at persuading management to join revolution. Sharing successes (and failures) of Agile teams more proactively with upper management will bring more agility to the entire organization. The key to Agile success is the implementation of the Agile values described in Idea #1 throughout the company – and if management isn’t involved it isn’t going to happen. Ever.

The authors of the CMMI had the foresight to include Generic Practice GP2.10 Review Status with Higher Level Management, a practice that can be leveraged for this purpose, and is relevant and critical for the success of Agile teams.

Idea #11: Once size never fits all, and this goes for Agile teams as well. I’ve always said that the authors of the CMMI intended for it to be Agile, and this is demonstrated in Generic Practice GP3.1 Establish a Defined Process and the related practices in Integrated Project Management that scream BE AGILE and do what’s right for your project! So create guidelines that will allow Agile teams to deviate, when it makes sense. Creating those guidelines is tough so look to Organizational Process Definition for guidance. It’s well worth the effort.

Idea #12: Agile teams are well versed in the use of the Retrospective, but since Agile ceremonies focus primarily on the nuclear team those lessons don’t usually get shared with the larger population. The organization that can expand the concept of Retrospectives beyond the Agile team, so that lessons can be systemically collected, indexed, and used by all, is the organization that wins!

The CMMI’s Generic Practice GP3.2 Collect Process Related Experiences provides guidance for systemically sharing lessons, along with its related Process Areas Integrated Project Management and Organizational Process Definition.


So there you have it. Twelve ideas (and twelve Generic Practices) that can improve Agile performance right away. The rest is up to you!

Anyone interested in a more in-depth discussion on the topic is invited to sign up for this month’s new Webinar, “Agile Transformation.”

WEBINAR INFO


When: Thursday, March 26, 2015 at noon EDT.

Sign up: Click here

© 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!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

So your customers want you to “Go Agile!” … NOW what?

Dear Readers,

Have you been hearing customers say they want their suppliers to “Go Agile?”

Are you a CMMI Maturity Level 2 or Maturity Level 3 organization with a Waterfall approach that is struggling to improve requirements churn and volatility, meet schedule and budget, and perform the work you do every day?

Learn to solve both of these problems at the same time, by participating in our ALL NEW Webinar in the “Everything You Need to Know” Series: “Agile Transformation!


What: “Everything You Need to Know. Agile Transformation!
Where: LIVE on your screen
When: Thursday, March 26, 2015 at noon EDT.

Why are customers asking you to “Go Agile”?

In the last decade or so, the software engineering community has begun to embrace a set of iterative and incremental delivery methods known collectively as “Agile.” The specific methods include names like Scrum, Extreme Programming (XP), Spiral, and some distant cousins including Kanban. Sometimes customers will ask you to “go Agile” without fully understanding what they are asking.

What does this mean for a Waterfall company with a CMMI Maturity Level?

The really neat thing about CMMI is that, since both CMMI and Agile are frameworks for improving delivery, CMMI is very effective at guiding and improving your Agile transformation! This means you can get more out of your investment in CMMI while using its guidance to “go Agile.”

What can you do NOW that will make a difference?

One thing we can do is get informed. “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.

Get started with Agile Transformation! 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, March 11, 2015

Where Can Our Leadership Team Get All of Your CMMI Info in One Place?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, where can our executive leadership team get more information like what you share on this blog? We are primarily interested in upcoming Webinars, classes, conferences … any opportunity to learn more about engineering process improvement and performance innovation. Rather than scrolling through old blog posts or Twitter updates, is there one central place to get this information from you? ~ Zino D.

Zino, it’s so good to interact with smart people like you and your executives who are passionate about continuing to learn. As you’ve probably noticed, we are literally ALL OVER the popular social media and Web sites – Blogger, Twitter, Amazon, Youtube, etc. – and everywhere we go, we provide a wealth of FREE information about CMMI, engineering strategy and organizational performance innovation that can help you improve the speed of software delivery, reduce defects, eliminate rework and make your projects more predictable and manageable.

So you are wondering if there is one place to go where you can find it all. Well, check THIS out!

Broadsword’s new “Performance Innovation” newspaper is news you can use
to get better at what you are ALREADY doing.

Performance Innovation” from Broadsword is your one-stop shop for all the information you can handle about changing behaviors and transforming your company culture so you can build better software and run better projects. It aggregates the strategies, stories, announcements and invitations we post in other places, such as on this blog.  All in one central location.

Now, there are times when you will want greater depth on these topics.  That's when you'll want to go to the individual source sites from which the newspaper is pulling information.  For example:

CMMI-TV – If you are looking for short, informative video clips about Agile, CMMI and performance innovation, we invite you to subscribe to our CMMI-TV channel.

CMMI eBooks – Like to get longer form CMMI info delivered right to your favorite reading device? Check out the highly useful and always entertaining eBooks we’ve written about CMMI.

@CMMIAppraiser on Twitter – For daily tips and offers on CMMI, engineering performance and software process improvement, follow us on Twitter.

Broadsword Client User Group on LinkedIn – Interested in joining a community of like-minded engineering and software professionals for discussion and CMMI info? Join our group on LinkedIn.

www.broadswordsolutions.com – For your all-around information source about CMMI, performance innovation and process improvement planning, join us on the Broadsword website.

You can also find us on Facebook, Google-Plus and Tumblr, as well as in the traditional media (like the Cutter IT Journal) and in person at seminars, conferences and CMMI Training classes all around the world – but this should give you and your executives a good start.

Enjoy!

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 9, 2015

So your boss wants you to know EVERYTHING about CMMI? Sign up for the "Everything You NEED to Know!” Webinar Series: "CMMI!"

Hey, CMMI Appraiser - my boss wants me to find out everything I can about CMMI.  A Google search led me here.  Where can I find the info I am looking for? ~ Salizar W.

Dear Salizar,

Good timing!  This month we are hosting a FREE webinar that will help you understand the real value of CMMI, and how to communicate what you've learned about CMMI to your boss. Registration is now open for the first Webinar in our "Everything You NEED to Know" series: “CMMI!” on March 19, 2015 @noon EDT. Click HERE to register.



Why does this Webinar help you do your job better?

Designed specifically for executives, engineers, and business professionals who are new to CMMI – as well as those who are in a CMMI-focused organization -- and are looking for guidance on doing your work in a lighter and more flexible manner, this practical, relevant Webinar will give you new insights into addressing persistent problems, and help you improve upon what you are ALREADY doing.

Space is limited ... sign up now!

Register for the FREE Webinar.

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.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Do we need to stay with Waterfall to get a CMMI Rating?

Dear CMMI Appraiser, we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. We have always used Waterfall, and now the customer is asking us to "go Agile." Meanwhile, our CMMI consultant told us we need to focus on documentation to get a CMMI rating, which makes us a bad fit for Agile.  But we need a CMMI rating to keep the customer! What should we do? ~ Phil B.

Dear Phil,

I'll tell you exactly what to do.  First we'll remove the rock, since that’s easiest. Then we’ll deal with the hard place.



Now, who was this rock-headed CMMI consultant? The very first thing he or she should have told you is that adopting the CMMI is 100% about solving business problems. It’s not about documents. It’s not about passing an audit. It’s about following a model that's about how great companies perform. Remove that “rock” by firing the rockhead and talking to CMMI consultants who actually have a head on their shoulders.

As for your “hard-place,” I see this happening more and more. Agile has become so popular that large federal government and commercial organizations are exerting pressure on their suppliers to “go agile” – even before they fully understand what they are asking for. Account reps promise the sun and moon. So upper management turns around and exerts the same pressure on their teams to GO AGILE.

What should you do? Get the facts! Whether you are part of the leadership or on the team of a CMMI-focused Waterfall organization, you’ll have a clear idea of how to solve your business problems with “Agile Transformation,” the next presentation in our popular “Everything You Need to Know” Series.  Check it out!

What: “Everything You Need to Know: Agile Transformation!” Webinar
When: Thursday, March 26, 2015 at noon EDT.
Registration: FREE

The Webinar is even cooler than it sounds.  It's hosted by Broadsword’s Director of Strategic Solutions, Tim Zeller. Tim will help you learn new ways to do useful things like these:

  • Move away from top-heavy, document-focused, command and control structure 
  • Get more rapid delivery
  • Preserve all the "good" things you did with CMMI, while being more lean and Agile
  • Retain employees who want to work for a great Agile organization
  • Get products to market faster

And much more.  So get out from between the rock and the hard place, and get started with Agile Transformation! 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.

CMMI-TV: Do Agile Teams Use Process?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, Do Agile teams use process? ~ SEPGNA Attendee

Dear Readers,

Today’s episode of CMMI-TV was filmed ON LOCATION at SEPG North America in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, where I delivered the keynote address on “Values-based Engineering.” An attendee asked if Agile teams use process. Below is a video clip with my answer, followed by a synopsis of my response. Enjoy!


OVERVIEW

There is a misconception that Agile teams don’t use process. They do. They don’t call them processes; they call them ceremonies, or behaviors, or techniques, or methods. Each one has very specified behaviors in Agile.

EXAMPLE PROCESSES

Planning Poker
The Daily Stand Up (sometimes called the Daily Scrum)
Refractoring
Velocity
Sprint Reviews
Sprint Demos
Backlog Grooming
Story Time
Pair Programming
Test-Driven Development

Everything on this list is a process, also known as a technique, or method, or ceremony, or behavior. And for every one of these processes, there is a CMMI equivalent that we use to make it better.

WHAT REALLY MATTERS

There are many, many different behaviors. I doesn’t matter what you call them. Just do the work in a way that makes sense.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CMMI

Think of the CMMI almost like a checklist for doing what you are trying to do – whether that’s improve Waterfall methods or “go agile” or strengthen agile. This checklist applies to all the behaviors (or ceremonies, etc.) listed above, and helps us do the following:

1) Think about the right things

2) Do the work the way it makes sense

CONCLUSION

Use CMMI as a guide for improving the way you do your work. That’s the way to make process – or whatever you call it -- better.

INVITATION

Anyone interested in a more in-depth discussion on the topic is invited to sign up for this month’s new Webinar, “Agile Transformation.”

WEBINAR INFO

What: “Everything You Need to Know. Agile Transformation!”

When: Thursday, March 26, 2015 at noon EDT.

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, March 3, 2015

How many times has Broadsword led a company to achieve a successful appraisal?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – how many times have you led a company to achieve a successful CMMI Appraisal? ~ Recent phone conversation with a prospect

Dear Readers,

This year, to celebrate our 10th anniversary in business, we’re throwing a year-long party, and you’re invited!  Many are the cool stories we'll share about companies that learned to use the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), the industry leading performance improvement framework that helps you change behaviors and transform your company culture so you can build better software and run better projects. 

Today we are announcing an AMAZING milestone …

Yes, we’ve recently delivered our 50TH SUCCESSFUL CMMI APPRAISAL! 

Woo-HOOOOOOO!

And even more awesome: We delivered this 50th successful appraisal with the SAME client for whom we delivered our very 1st successful appraisal!

Congratulations to our friends at ADNET!

ADNET Systems (ADNET) is a provider of science, engineering, and information technology solutions in Fairfax, Virginia. They have been re-appraised as Maturity Level 3 (ML3). Let’s hear it for ADNET!

As you know if you’ve been reading our blog for a while, Broadsword pioneered the AgileCMMI approach for improving software development and organizational processes, using agile methods to implement CMMI-based solutions. Here’s what our friend and client, Dave Morris, who is Program and Operations Manager with ADNET, said about his experience:

“For many years, Broadsword has been our trusted partner because they understand software and business and how to relate the CMMI model to what we are doing. The impact of having our successful CMMI ML3 appraisal means higher quality products, and an improved ability to serve our federal agency customers.”

Thanks, Dave! We are thrilled to reach this milestone together. ADNET was our first appraisal client back in 2006, and we’ve done multiple appraisals together since then. It’s a testament to ADNET’s passion for continuous improvement that they were our first and 50th client to complete a successful SCAMPI A appraisal!

The year 2015 has ushered in many milestones for Broadsword, including:

  • 10th year in business
  • 50th successful CMMI appraisal
  • 100th CMMI class delivered

We want to keep the good times going!  Part of our year-long celebration includes expanding our ability to drive high-performance engineering to more companies, using our AgileCMMI methodology in collaborative consulting, coaching and training solutions. This month, we invite you to check out what we’re doing to help companies with Agile Transformation.

If you are a CMMI Level 2 or Level 3 organization with a Waterfall approach that is struggling to improve requirements churn and volatility, meet schedule and budget, and perform the work you do every day, you may have thought about “going Agile” as a way to solve your problems.

That’s what our “Agile Transformation” solution is all about. To learn how it works, check out the ALL NEW Webinar in the “CMMI: Everything You Need to Know” Series.

What: “Everything You Need to Know - Agile Transformation!
Where: LIVE on your screen
When: Thursday, March 26, 2015 at noon EDT.

Click here to register.

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.

Friday, February 27, 2015

CMMI-TV: What is different about documentation in agile projects?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – What is different about documentation in agile projects? ~ SEPGNA Attendee

Dear Readers,

Today’s episode of CMMI-TV was filmed ON LOCATION at SEPG North America in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, where I delivered the keynote address on “Values-based Engineering.” An attendee asked what is different about documentation in agile projects. Below is a video clip with my answer, followed by a synopsis of my response. Enjoy!



OVERVIEW

Documentation is just as important when using Scrum as traditional approaches, though artifacts and work products may take a very different form.

COMMON MISUNDERSTANDING

A lot of Agilistas and even non-Agile Purists will say, “Scrum doesn’t require us to write stuff down. It doesn’t require artifacts or work products.”

This is not true. Scrum asks you to write things down in a very different way than a traditional project might, but it is not true at all that Scrum doesn’t ask you to document your work.

EXAMPLES OF SCRUM ARTIFACTS

Here are three artifacts that are popularly used in Scrum:
  • Burndown chart
  • Burnup chart
  • Alistair Cockburn’s chart in which he documents surprises.
These artifacts are posted around the Scrum Team Room and they are known as information radiators. They radiate data and information, which is another way to show documentation.

CONCLUSION

There are many creative ways to document work in Scrum. I like to say in my appraisals, “Walk me into your Scrum Team Room and I will call out 100 CMMI practices that are represented on the wall.”

Just because documentation happens differently in Scrum than traditional approaches, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

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 running a successful CMMI and performance improvement program.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Party time! It’s Our 10-Year Anniversary!

Dear Readers,

Time flies when you’re having fun! It seems like only yesterday when a customer gave us our name in 2005, saying we “cut through the noise and politics like a Broadsword.” From that point forward, engineering and software organizations continued to engage us because they knew we brought a practical, agile, and incremental way to improve performance without disrupting their business – and they told us so. For example:

“Our experience working with the Broadsword team was exemplary. They quickly understood our business and helped us to lay out a plan to achieve our CMMI Level 3 goal.” ~ President, PI Innovo

So we kept cutting through the noise and politics to help put more companies on the path to greatness. Now we look up to discover it’s our 10-year anniversary!



To mark the happy occasion, we’re throwing a year-long party.

That’s right, a whole year of hanging out and sharing the good times! We will introduce you to Tim, Ross, Julie, Laura and all the great people we know, and all the great things we’ve been doing together. We’ll laugh. We’ll talk. And we’ll show you how to learn to use the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), a model that helps you build better software and run better projects. It’s going to be the jam of the decade!

So come along! We’re letting the good times roll by giving more companies more access to our proven AgileCMMI solutions, Broadsword’s original approach to helping organizations like yours get better at what they are ALREADY doing.

It all starts right here, with the people, products and services that Broadsword is proud to make available to you. We’re handing out plenty of door prizes in 2015, so plan on bringing home lots of valuable take-aways in the weeks and months ahead.

Why throw a bash that lasts all year? Well, you hardly need a reason to party when you see CMMI as we see it - as an ongoing celebration, a model for being joyful in the quest for becoming a great company.

So grab that special software lady or an engineering buddy or two, and join us for a glass of birthday cheer that lasts all year. It’s our CMMI birthday, and we’re bringing the party to you!

Here’s your first door prize. Find out your true baseline and get back some data about how your team aligns with CMMI by taking our complimentary Micro Assessment. Get started with CMMI success! Click here: www.broadswordsolutions.com/micro-assessment.

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.