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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What happens to our agile evangelists if the company gets a CMMI Level?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, our execs are talking about having the company CMMI certified for the marketing advantages, and we’re not in love with the idea. We are a Scrum team of true agile evangelists.  We don’t bother with process models or BPUF. How is it going to impact us if the company gets a CMMI Level? ~ Albi W.

Hey, Albi,

You don’t have to be in love with the idea of CMMI+Scrum for it to work for you.  But in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, let's get this conversation started with a conversation heart.



Don’t worry – I’m not getting sweet on you! All this means is that CMMI+Scrum really can and do coexist. No doubt your executives would really love it everyone could get on the same page about the benefits of this approach, because it helps everyone. Taking an agileCMMI approach can actually transform performance across the board, for management and Scrum teams alike.

Here are a few things about CMMI and Scrum that you may not be aware of:

You say, “We don’t bother with process models,” but did you realize that Scrum is a process model also? When you look at all of the different techniques of a Scrum team, all the "Scrum Elements," every one of them is a process. They are not the same processes that maybe you think people want to make you use, but they are still a process. And they're pretty darn good ones too! And every one of them is in the CMMI! For example, Planning Poker is represented in the CMMI's Project Planning Specific Goal One. Refactoring is in Requirement Management, Pair Programming is part of Verification, Velocity is part of Measurement and Analysis, and Test-Driven Development is part of Requirements Development. And so on.

You say, “We don’t bother with a BPUF (Big Plan Up Front).” That’s OK! I don’t either. To be clear, the CMMI is not a methodology. It does not have to be BPUF. That’s a perception based on implementation, not a perception based on fact. Are you saying that because the CMMI is most often used in BPUF types of organizations, therefore the CMMI is a BPUF process model? To that, I say, correlation is not causation. The real meaning behind CMMI is that it looks to make anything that you are doing better. So why not use CMMI to make a Scrum better?

You say, “How is it going to impact us if the company gets a CMMI Level?” Well, the beauty of Scrum teams is that they tend to be fiercely independent. Unfortunately, that perception is one reason why most companies are using Scrum for only a small subset of their projects. Part of the challenge with using Scrum is sometimes upper management doesn’t understand it. It’s well suited for bottom-up implementation, but not so much for "top-down." But because everything in Scrum is on-time and on-budget by definition, Scrum teams can boast to their management, “things worked really well. We are on time and on budget with every release.” But you don't hear so much is whether they met the full number of features they committed to delivering. Their velocity may be lower than they expected. If that happens to you, CMMI can help.

Keep in mind, Albi, there has always been this sort of antagonistic relationship between the Agile and CMMI communities. So much so that that I co-wrote a white paper called "CMMI or Agile? Why Not Embrace Both?" for the SEI along with several of my peers on why that perception is hurting the software community, and why the CMMI is an excellent fit for agile environments.

That’s the history and philosophy, Albi. Embrace CMMI+Scrum as a tool to make your organization a great company. Every framework, including Scrum, has weaknesses, and you can use CMMI to make it even stronger.

What’s not to love?

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Learning time! “CMMI: Everything You NEED to Know!”

Dear Readers,

The learning experiences keep on coming!

Registration is NOW OPEN for our FREE presentation of “CMMI: Everything You NEED to Know!” on February 26 @ noon EST, and we’d love to have you join us on the Webinar.

Get your ticket here!


Sign up for the CMMI Webinar on Thursday, February 26 @ noon EST

New to CMMI? Great! Participating in the “CMMI: Everything You NEED to Know” Webinar is an excellent choice for anyone who is interested in learning new ways to get better. Whether that means better software, better finance, better product development, better marketing or HR, learning more about the CMMI can help you make immediate, lasting improvements in your company.

Been working with CMMI for a while? That’s great, too. Participating in the “CMMI: Everything You NEED to Know” Webinar is a smart way to learn new approaches to solving chronic problems, making it well worth your time to participate.

After all, the most useful thing about CMMI is that it provides a framework for changing behaviors and changing culture that can establish an environment for allowing you to operate like the great company you know you can be – for the long term.  With learning as your goal, you’ll stay on the path to greatness.  The Webinar shows you how.

So come learn with us! We still have space available, and did we mention?  It’s FREEEEEEEE!



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, February 17, 2015

What good are the "Generic Practices" of CMMI when we’re different?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – what good are the Generic Practices in the CMMI? Our company is very different from our competitors. I don’t see how something “generic” can help us. ~ Bob L, Arlington, VA

Bob, let’s not get tripped up over the word “generic” here. It’s easy to do, and not uncommon. For this very reason, for many years, I have been insisting that as better name for the Generic Practice (GPs) would “Most Important Practices” because of how very important they are to your success. So just between you and me, let’s call them Most Important (not generic) and I’ll explain how to customize them with questions specific to the unique way YOU do business below.



The "Generic Practices" Aren't Generic!

First, Bob, you’ll need to accept the basic truth about CMMI. The CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration), is a model that helps us build better software and run better projects.

The most important part of the CMMI is the GPs, which we have agreed to call Most Important Practices. The Most Important Practices apply to all process areas in the CMMI – which is why they are so important.

Regardless of what type of method, technique or process that you use, the Most Important Practices can really help jump start the success of those practices. You can apply the Most Important Practices to activities that the organization performs. You don’t necessarily apply the Most Important Practices to your individual projects.

Starting to get the picture? Maybe it would help to give you some examples. Here are a sampling of Most Important Practices provided by the CMMI (there are 12 in all), along with several relevant questions that the Most Important Practice is guiding you to ask:

MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: SET EXPECTATIONS

  • How long are our Sprints?
  • What kind of retrospectives do we have?
  • What kind of code reviews should we run?
  • Should we comment our code, and how should we comment it?

MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: PLAN

  • How many Sprints are we going to have?
  • How many phases are we going to have?
  • How many releases are we going to have?
  • What kind of requirements management tools are we going to use?

MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: ASSIGN RESPONSIBILITY

  • Who is going to be involved?
  • When are they going to be involved?

MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: PROVIDE TRAINING

  • Are we providing training? For example, if I’m going to ask you to do Planning Poker and use it as a way to estimate the size of a project or a particular user story, do I plan to train you on how to use those tools?

MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: MONITOR THE HEALTH OF THE PROCESS

  • How is the process working?
  • Are we getting value out of our sprints, phases and the tools that we are using, out of the techniques that we are employing?
  • If we aren’t getting value, why not? And if not, let’s make them better!
  • Are people actually using these processes?
  • If they aren’t, why not?

MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: MAKE SURE MANAGEMENT CARES ABOUT THE RIGHT THINGS

  • Is management paying attention to all of this data?
  • Are they doing something about it to make the company an even better company?

MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: CONSTANTLY IMPROVE

  • Are we constantly improving the processes?

As I said, Bob, there are 12 Most Important Practices. Not one of them is "generic" when applied to your specific business goals.  This sampling of Most Important Practices will get you started in your understanding that CMMI is not about documents, forms or compliance. Nor is CMMI a “one-size-fits-all” proposition. Adopting the CMMI is 100% about solving the business problems that are specific to your company. The more we use it, and the more we work with organizations that are using the CMMI, the more we realize that this is a model that's about how great companies perform – each according to its own uniqueness.

For more information about the Most Important Practices and other ways the CMMI helps you get better at what you are ALREADY doing, be sure to sign up for our Webinar on February 26 @ noon: “CMMI – Everything You Need to Know!”

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.





How can CMMI make us better when we don’t use process?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – I am new to the CMMI and don’t really know much about it. Our management wants to be Level 2 and have an appraisal, but how can CMMI make us better when, as an agile shop, we don’t use process? ~ Charles S.

Hey, Charles, welcome aboard! It’s always great to meet people who are new to CMMI. You know, a lot of folks have the same reaction to CMMI at first. As a Lead Appraiser, I work with a many Scrum teams that started out by telling me, “We don’t really use processes. We don’t like processes at all.”

And I say …


You don’t use processes? What about these?

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

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

I’ll give you an example. In the CMMI, we have a practice called, “Identify all relevant stakeholders” for the estimating process. Sounds very academic and very dry. But if we re-word it using agile language, we might ask the following: “What dudes need to be there to play Planning Poker?”

Same exact practice – figuring out who those right people are. Asking it differently helps improve our Planning Poker process, and as a result we have a process that says, “The right people need to show up to play Planning Poker.”

In this way, we use the CMMI to make Planning Poker better. That’s one of the practices in the CMMI.

It works the same with Refractoring. There is a practice guides us to reconcile the work, based on the current need. Well, there’s a lot to that. What does reconciling mean? Simply this: Involve the proper stakeholders. In agile lingo: Bring in the right dudes.

The CMMI helps make these processes better through the 12 characteristics of successful companies that it outlines.  The 12 characteristics are known as the "Generic Practices," or GPs. These GPs are the 12 things that need to be right for an organization to be successful. One of them is, we need to figure out who the right people are and make sure they are there. Another is, people need to be trained on how to use it. So if we say, “We have to use Planning Poker,” we better give people good training on how to make it work. Using the CMMI as a guide, you understand that people need to be trained.

A lot of organizations tell me, “Hey, we are already using Planning Poker. We are not really getting the results we want from it. It’s not that accurate. What’s going on?”

The answer? Look to the 12 GPs. They allow us to ask the right questions about our work, such as:
  • Stakeholders aren’t showing up? Well, that’s one problem. Let’s fix that.
  • People aren’t trained? That’s another problem. Let’s fix that.

See, the 12 GPs in the CMMI are almost like a checklist. This checklist covers all the things about Planning Poker, in this case, that we didn’t really think about when we implemented it. We just sort of threw a pack of cards on the table and said, “Go read an article and start playing.”

And maybe that’s OK in some shops, for some projects. But you will surely get better results if you deliberately and thoughtfully go through the 12 attributes within the CMMI and use them as a guide for improving the way you do your work. That’s how to use the CMMI as a checklist to make process better.

Interested in knowing more about how the CMMI helps you get better at what you are ALREADY doing? Then be sure to sign up for our Webinar on February 26 @ noon: “CMMI – Everything You Need to Know!”


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.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CMMI-TV: How Disciplined Is Agile?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – how disciplined is agile? ~ SEPG NA Attendee

Dear Readers,

Today’s episode of CMMI-TV was filmed ON LOCATION at the most recent SEPG North America in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, where I delivered the keynote address on “Values-based Engineering.” Before I gave the presentation, I heard people scoffing at the notion that agile was a disciplined approach. I heard them say, “Oh, we’re agile. We don’t do this.” Or, “Oh, we’re agile. We don’t do that.” Below is a video clip with my response, followed by a synopsis. Enjoy!



OVERVIEW

A lot of people don’t realize that agile is incredibly structured, detailed and disciplined.

A HAIKU SAYS IT ALL

Agile is not less
disciplined than what we call
Waterfall
Stop it!

THE TRUTH ABOUT AGILE

Agile isn’t just disciplined, it’s extraordinarily disciplined! Proof is available in the well run Scrum Team Room, where you see information radiators everywhere, with extraordinary amounts of detail. For example, you’ll see white boards covered with sticky notes, with risks identified and carefully prioritized (‘what keeps you up at night’) with their sources associated with them.

SCRUM VS. WATERFALL

Even better than its high level of discipline, Agile is incredibly organized with specified behaviors. Contrast this with the Waterfall world, where there are no specified behaviors. Instead, Waterfall has phases, work products and artifacts. Work gets done and there are plans – but Waterfall really doesn’t guide us to focus on the behavioral aspect of our work. Scrum is completely focused on the behavioral aspects, and CMMI helps guide Scrum Teams to strengthen those agile behaviors. The way it meshes seamlessly with Scrum demonstrates that CMMI is a behavioral model more than anything else.

TAKE-AWAY

One thing you have to love about Scrum is that it defines all of the behaviors, and we can improve them.

If you would like more information about using getting CMMI and Scrum to work together, to strengthen agile, you are invited to participate in our upcoming Webinar: “Agile Resiliency – Scaling Agile so that It Thrives and Survives,” on February 12, 2015 @ noon EST.

Register here.

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.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Broadsword Expands Automotive Supplier Capability with the Addition of Ross Timmerman as Senior Consultant

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – I work for a major automotive manufacturer (you’ve heard of us) and those of us in engineering who are agile have come to loggerheads with our management team. It’s pretty clear that their perception of us is completely wrong. They think we don’t have the capacity to share information. We think their decision-making is questionable, as well as their strategy and tactics. In short, we don’t get each other. How can we bridge this gap? ~ Nick S.

Nick, I hear this a lot from agile teams in the automotive industry. So often, I sometimes just want to lock you guys and your management teams into a room with a case of beer and get you talking to each other. Really talking! You would have good business conversations about how you are going to run your business, without getting all caught up in ego, agile purity or the blame-game.

It’s really not too difficult to have these frank conversations, Nick. All it takes is a strong desire to improve on what you’re already doing. From that point, you simply decide to take the best of both models. You adopt a flexible, agile approach to the CMMI, that fits within your company’s particular situation.

Easier said than done? Perhaps. Because we are so passionate about seeing this transformation happen for our clients, we’ve recently expanded our automotive supplier capability by adding Ross Timmerman to our team, as Senior Consultant.  Ross possesses an extremely useful gift for facilitating these conversations.

Please join me in welcoming Ross Timmerman to the company, and wishing him great success!


With more than 18 years in the automotive industry as an electronics engineering design and management professional, Ross has experience with embedded hardware and software design, project management, process improvement and electronics manufacturing. His broad range of familiarity in the automotive supplier sector, in particular, adds additional capability to the Broadsword team. Prior to joining Broadsword, Ross worked at Johnson Controls and Visteon.

As a Senior Consultant with Broadsword, Ross will focus on assisting clients in the automotive, aerospace, defense, and federal government sectors using Broadsword’s AgileCMMI methodology, which is based on the industry leading Capability Maturity Model Integration, or CMMI.

“One of the things I am most excited about is that I will be able to take the engineering and process improvement knowledge I have learned and help Broadsword clients to improve,” Ross said.

As we continue to expand our presence with automotive suppliers and in the government, manufacturing, and IT sectors, we welcome Ross’ depth and breadth of experience. His passion and focus on business transformation and process improvement will have a significant impact on helping our clients achieve their goals.

Read the full press release here: Broadsword Expands Automotive Supplier Capability with the Addition of Ross Timmerman as Senior Consultant

If you would like more information about using CMMI to strengthen agile and help you communicate agile values to the management team, Nick, you are invited to participate in our upcoming Webinar: “Agile Resiliency – Scaling Agile so that It Thrives and Survives,” February 12, 2015 @ noon EST.

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.



Saturday, February 7, 2015

Grab a cup o’ hot cocoa and enjoy the “Agile Resiliency” Webinar, winter edition!

Dear Readers,

Winter is here, and your fun-loving CMMI Appraiser is throwing another virtual log on the fire and pouring virtual cups of hot cocoa for everyone who joins the presentation of our popular Webinar, “Agile Resiliency” on Thursday, February 12 at noon EST.




Click HERE to register for the Live Webinar (Thursday, February 12, noon EST)

Why attend?

They say agile won’t scale due to opposition. We say, yes, it can! … as long as engineering and software professionals understand the concept of “Agile Resiliency.”

What is “Agile Resiliency?” It’s a term we’ve coined for a new way of thinking about scaling agile by taking a look at your agile methodology through the perspective of the “Agile Resiliency Architecture,” which keeps you focused on what's most important to your business and your process, and ultimately, your product. In this practical, interactive, fast-paced Webinar, you’ll learn the following:

  • How to think of agile in terms of a 3-tiered Architecture consisting of your values, your methods and your techniques
  • How to start with agile values and see them as guiding your work
  • How to apply the Architecture as a method or framework for managing the work of Scrum
  • How to use the Architecture to focus on the techniques for doing the work, such as Planning Poker, Continuous Builds, Story Time, Backlog Grooming, Retrospectives, etc.
  • How to integrate the architectural strengths of the CMMI with your agile approach to bring about the transformation of the culture of your company

… Plus, many more strategies, tips and insights for improving ourselves and making our agile methodology scalable.

Space is limited ... sign up now!

Register for the FREE Live 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.

Just the FAQs: SPECIAL EDITION! CMMI Institute Announces "Action Plan Re-Appraisal!"

[Dear Readers, our good friend Pat O’Toole, CMMI expert and seasoned consultant, is collaborating with us on a new monthly series of CMMI-related posts, "Just the FAQs." Our goal with these posts is to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions about the CMMI, SCAMPI, engineering strategy and software process improvement. This month Pat discusses the new "Action Plan Re-Appraisal." Take it away! ~ the CMMI Appraiser]

I heard that the CMMI Institute just released this thing called an “Action Plan Reappraisal.” What is it and why should I care?

PAT: Imagine that your organization just completed a maturity level 4 (ML4) SCAMPI A appraisal, but because you failed a goal in Organizational Process Performance (OPP) at ML4 and had an “Not Rated” goal in Risk Management (RSKM) at ML3, the SCAMPI A appraisal resulted in an ML2 rating. As Maxwell Smart might say, “You missed it by that much!”

Let’s assume that the ML4 rating was important to your team as a formal recognition of accomplishment and/or because a strategically important client requires it. In either case, you would want to remediate the goalimpacting weaknesses, institutionalize the associated behavior changes, and be reappraised as soon as possible. Prior to the Action Plan Reappraisal being released, your organization would have to undergo another souptonuts ML4 SCAMPI A appraisal – a very expensive and disruptive undertaking.

Now, however, the Appraisal Sponsor can elect to conduct an Action Plan Reappraisal (APR) – essentially a “delta appraisal.” An action plan is generated and executed by the organization to remediate the weaknesses and institutionalize the behavior changes, after which the appraisal team reevaluates the failed or not rated goals. If any of these goals are now rated “Satisfied,” the maturity level is regenerated. In the happiest of scenarios, both the OPP and RSKM goals would now be rated “Satisfied,” and ML4 will have been achieved!

Any questions?

Is there a time limit in which the Action Plan Reappraisal (APR) must be conducted?
The APR must conclude within 4 months of the SCAMPI A Final Findings presentation.

Why 4 months?
4 months was selected as an appropriate time frame for remediating minor goalthreatening weaknesses; the APR is not intended for use when remediating major or systemic weaknesses.

Is there a limit regarding how many APRs may be conducted?
Only one APR can be conducted for a given SCAMPI A appraisal.

What happens if our current maturity level expires during this 4month period?
An appraisal result that exceeds its 3year validity period is no longer published on PARS. If the current SCAMPI A was completed and the associated APR is concluded within the 4month time limit, the Appraisal Sponsor can authorize the current results to be published in PARS. Publication in PARS would start after the ARP has been submitted to the CMMI Institute via the SCAMPI Appraisal System (SAS) and the CMMI Institute has concluded its Quality Audit.

How is the 3year validity period established for a SCAMPI A that had an APR?
Such an appraisal would expire 3 years after the delivery of the SCAMPI A Final Finding presentation.
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Is it now required to conduct an APR if the target maturity level/capability level profile was not achieved in the SCAMPI A appraisal? If not required, who makes the decision to conduct an APR or not?
No, the APR is not required; it is an option available to the Appraisal Sponsor. The Lead Appraiser provides a goodfaith recommendation on whether an APR might be successful if pursued, but the final decision rests with the Appraisal Sponsor. If proceeding with an APR, this decision must be communicated to the CMMI Institute prior to submitting the SCAMPI A appraisal via SAS.

Typically, a goal fails due to one or more practices being characterized as “partially implemented.” or “not implemented.” Does the APR evaluate just these practices? Goals? Process area? Maturity level?
The APR appraises all of the “Unsatisfied” and “Not Rated” goals in the APR appraisal scope in the same manner as in a SCAMPI A: for each practice that supports the goal, documents are reviewed and interviews conducted to determine if that practice is fully, largely, partially, or not implemented on that project. These projectlevel characterizations are then used to characterize the practice overall for the organization, or what’s referred to as the “OU practice characterization.” These OU practice characterizations are then used to rate the goal as “Satisfied” or “Unsatisfied.”

Note that it may be determined that additional goals need to be put in scope for the APR to properly evaluate the remediation. For example, if a Project Planning goal was rated “Unsatisfied” in the SCAMPI A, it might be appropriate to evaluate one or more goals from the Project Monitoring and Control process area as well. This decision is made by the Lead Appraiser.

Do we have to evaluate the remediated goals on the same projects, or can we do so on others?
The expectation is that the same projects will be evaluated. However, there may be cases where this is not feasible – for example, the project terminated prior to the remediation being applied, or the project is beyond the point in the lifecycle where the remediated practices are executed. In such cases, replacement projects with the same sampling characteristics may be evaluated instead.

What happens if some of the goals are still rated “Unsatisfied” or “Not Rated” at the end of the ARP?
In the example above, if the previously failed OPP goal was now rated “Satisfied” but the previously unrated RSKM goal was still “Not Rated,” the maturity level would be regenerated but the outcome would be the same – ML2. On the other hand, if the RSKM goal was now rated “Satisfied” and the OPP goal was still rated “Unsatisfied,” the regenerated maturity level rating would be ML3.

Must the organization have all failed and unrated goals reevaluated as part of the APR?
No, the Appraisal Sponsor can elect to conduct the APR on a subset of these. In the example above, the sponsor may decide to include only the unrated RSKM goal in the APR scope and, if the goal is successfully remediated, institutionalized, and rerated as “Satisfied,” ML3 will have been achieved.
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Can the organization include new process areas in the APR? That is, in the example above, could they expand the model scope to include some or all of the ML5 process areas?
No, the model scope of the APR cannot be greater than that of the original SCAMPI A appraisal.

Do we have to use the same Lead Appraiser for the APR, and do all of the original appraisal team members have to be involved?
Yes, but... The original Lead Appraiser must be involved in all evaluationrelated APR activities, and with the exception of documentation review, these activities must be conducted onsite. In addition, for each failed or unrated goal in the APR model scope, to achieve continuity at least one member of the SCAMPI A miniteam that evaluated the detailed evidence associated with that goal must also be involved in all of these onsite appraisal activities. In other words, there will be at least two members of the original SCAMPI A appraisal team, and maybe more, involved throughout. The other SCAMPI A appraisal team members must also be involved in OU practice characterizations and goal/capability/maturity level ratings, but they may participate remotely (e.g., via teleconference).

So in our example, if separate miniteams were responsible for evaluating the evidence and characterizing the practices for OPP and RSKM, then the Lead Appraiser and at least one member of each of these miniteams must participate in all evaluationrelated APR activities. All of the original appraisal team members must be involved in generating the OU practice characterizations and rating the goals.
Special provisions must be made with the CMMI Institute if any of the original appraisal team members, including the Lead Appraiser, cannot participate in the APR.

If there a limit on the number of failed goals that may be evaluated in an APR?
No, however, the Lead Appraiser must make a recommendation to the Appraisal Sponsor regarding the feasibility of achieving the objective. This may include reminding the sponsor that, for a goal to be rated “Satisfied,” the weaknesses have to be rectified AND the behavior changes have to be institutionalized.

Will the appraisal posting on PARS indicate that an APR was conducted?
No, the SCAMPI A and APR are considered a single appraisal event. The posting on PARS only indicates the final outcome of the appraisal; there is no indication that an APR was, or was not, conducted.

What do YOU perceive to be “the good, the bad, and the ugly” regarding Action Plan Reappraisals?
[Author’s note: Prior to this question, all answers were based on the changes introduced in the SCAMPI MDD v1.3b to accommodate the APR. In response to this question, Pat is providing his own opinion, which may or may not align with that of the CMMI Institute or his fellow Lead Appraisers!]
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The Good:

Some organizations insist on being “rock solid” going into a SCAMPI A appraisal, as the fear and cost of failure is very high – in both financial and political terms. These organizations may conduct a series of Class C and Class B “dress rehearsals” until they have achieved 99.9% confidence that they will “pass” the SCAMPI A. The Action Plan Reappraisal option will allow such organizations to lower the overall cost by embracing more rating risk. The organization may forego one or more “dry run” appraisals if they know they can address any last potential goal threatening weaknesses over the ensuing four months.

Currently, some Lead Appraisers may struggle with the ethical decision to “flunk” an organization based on one or two marginal practices. They are torn between staying true to the model and method, and forcing the organization to incur the significant cost and disruption of another full SCAMPI A appraisal. The APR option makes the right decision much more palatable (for all “relevant stakeholders!”)

The Bad and the Ugly:

Some perceive that the introduction of the APR “tarnishes the brand.” That is, the SCAMPI A appraisal method is a rigorous evaluation of current organizational outputs and behaviors to determine if a predetermined set of CMMI goals is being satisfied. Appraisals bring focus to organizations that might otherwise be easily distracted. And since the SCAMPI A is typically perceived as the “gold standard” of appraisal methods, anything less, like the APR, is, well, less.

Some organizations may decide to accept too much risk. That is, rather than simply foregoing their 16th preSCAMPI A dry run appraisal, they may throw prudence and caution to the wind and do NO preappraisal preparation, trusting that they can address any and all issues during their four month “grace period.” Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!

Finally, some CMMIadopting organizations may fear that an unscrupulous Lead Appraiser may see the Action Plan Reappraisal as a means of extracting even more revenue from them. “Oh gee, you failed a goal, I guess you’ll just have to pay me for another 4 or 5 days of service to get your level!”

Concluding Note
The SCAMPI Method Definition Document v1.3b, Section 4 is the Action Plan Reappraisal’s “official rule book.” If you would like a copy of this section, a copy of the full MDD, or if you have any additional questions or “Good, Bad, and Ugly” insights, please feel free to contact Pat at PACT.otoole@att.net.
Over time, I suspect that what “Dear Abby” said about birth control may also apply to the APR – “It’s better to have and not need than to need and not have.”

© Copyright 2015: Broadsword Solutions and Process Assessment, Consulting & Training
“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, February 5, 2015

CMMI-TV: Are You Scrum or “Scrum-But”?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, what can I expect as a member of an Appraisal Team that is appraising an agile organization? ~ SEPG NA Conference Attendee

Dear Readers,

Today’s episode of CMMI-TV was filmed ON LOCATION at the most recent SEPG North America Conference in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, where I delivered the keynote address on “Values-based Engineering.” Earlier in the day, an attendee had asked what to expect as a member of an Appraisal Team that is appraising an agile organization. Below is a video clip with my answer, followed by a synopsis of my response. Enjoy!



OVERVIEW

The CMMI is an important tool for helping agile scale. Having a CMMI appraisal is a great way to test the strength and resiliency of your agile values, methods and techniques.

APPRAISING AGILE ORGANIZATIONS

Being a member of the Appraisal Team looking at an agile organization has many advantages:

  • It is more interesting to appraise a good agile project
  • You get to appraise actual behaviors, not just the documents they are producing 
  • There is tremendous value for the company for you to appraise behaviors

QUESTIONS

As a member of the Appraisal Team looking at an agile organization, you will be asking questions, including:

  • Are you really agile? After all, ceremonies are widely open to interpretation. There isn’t a 1:1 map. So we as an Appraisal Team have to figure out, are you really agile? Or, are you just Fragile?
  • Are you Scrum – or are you “Scrum-But”? I use the term “Scrum-But” when people say, “Oh, we’re using Scrum, but …” For example, some misguided, would-be agile developers say, “We use Scrum, but we’re using Microsoft Project.”

FRAGILE VERSUS AGILE

Most organizations start off pretty fragile. The problem is that agile is an aspirational way of doing business. It’s not a methodology. Agile is something we are, while CMMI is something we use to make it better. If the desire to have an agile transformation is being pushed uphill from project teams, there is only one way this will end, and it’s not good.

CONCLUSION

Agile is aspirational. Agile projects have to be driven by aspirational values that come out of the leadership of the organization. It has to be part of the company culture. Because without that, you are Fragile … not agile … and you are “Scrum-But” … not Scrum.

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.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Broadsword Appoints Tim Zeller to Director of Strategic Solutions

Dear CMMI Appraiser,

Our mechanical engineering firm has attained a CMMI Level 3 to help us operate more efficiently in a Waterfall environment. The Model allowed us get a system in place for getting deliverables to the customer, making it routine and repeatable, which helped us deliver services faster and better in the long run. Now we find ourselves needing to transition to an agile enviornment at the request of customers. Can we expect the same results from CMMI in terms of making deliveries out of our new agile methodology repeatable and scalable? ~ Dan K.

Dan, it is great to hear that you have had such a positive experience with CMMI. When CMMI users like you share their stories, everyone in the industry gets the benefit, so thank you!

Short answer: Yes, you absolutely can (and SHOULD!) use CMMI to help you transform to an agile environment.  CMMI works just as well with Waterfall as it does with agile, and any other approach.  The cool thing about CMMI is it takes what you are ALREADY doing and makes it better.  That's why lots of organizations like yours are using the CMMI as one of the tools that can help them establish the type of environment that can make them a great company. As a result, they have been able to improve all areas of the business, and reach their goals faster. 

To respond to this fast-growing trend, our firm recently appointed Tim Zeller Director of Strategic Solutions. Tim helps identify and implement new opportunities to improve performance, and leads our clients through the transformation from where they are today to where they want to be. He guides them on the path to becoming a great company, using our agileCMMI methodology.

Please read on and join me in welcoming Tim in his new role and wishing him great success!



Tim is a former chief executive of government and non-profit organizations and has served as General Council and Director of Risk Management and Legal Affairs in higher education and the health care industry. He is a Certified ISO 9000 lead auditor and SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resource) and an attorney who received his Juris Doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan.

Tim also has responsibility for growing Broadsword’s solution offerings, including further expansion of training programs, agile transformation, performance management and organizational change management.

“I am excited about the impact we can have for our clients, not only with CMMI and Agile, but with all aspects of performance improvement,” Tim said.

Tim is well-known to Broadsword's clients, and has been working with us as a partner for more than three years. In his new role, Tim works with our existing clients to ensure they are getting all they need from our talented team. We're looking forward to introducing Tim to more engineering and software professionals who can benefit from the ideas and solutions Tim brings.

Read the full press release here: Broadsword Appoints Tim Zeller to Director of Strategic Solutions

And if you would like more information about using CMMI in your transition to agile, Dan, you are invited to participate in our upcoming Webinar: “Agile Resiliency – Scaling Agile so that It Thrives and Survives,” February 12, 2015 @ noon EST.

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.

Time for another CMMI Webinar … “CMMI – Everything You NEED to Know!”

Dear Readers,

What time is it? LEARNING time! For those who need to know EVERYTHING about CMMI, now is the time to sign up for our in-depth, practical and useful CMMI Webinar: “CMMI - Everything You NEED to Know!”

Registration is now open for our FREE presentation of “CMMI: Everything You NEED to Know!” on January 22, 2015 @noon.  Click HERE to register.



Who is the CMMI Webinar designed to help?

Executives, engineers, and business professionals are encouraged to join us. Whether you are an agile shop, still seeking the kind of results you have been hoping for, or a CMMI-focused organization, looking for guidance on being lighter and more flexible, 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.

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What reading material do you recommend for our new Appraisal Team member?

Dear CMMI Appraiser, wishing you and yours a happy 2015! I am writing on behalf of a colleague who is new to the Appraisal Team. He completed the necessary CMMI Training, but still has some gaps in his understanding of the basics, as I see it. I’m wondering if you could recommend some introductory-level reading to get him more comfortable in his role? ~ Carmen R.

Dear Carmen,

How thoughtful of you to look for information that can help your Appraisal Team member! I’m sure he will be successful in his new role with great people like you looking out for him. To help him, and as a last-minute gift idea for any other engineering or software professional on your list, I’d recommend the following high quality reading material for beginners to the CMMI:

CMMI eBooks Make the Perfect Holiday Gift!



Our CMMI and agile eBooks are the fastest way to get up to speed on the basics of CMMI, agile, and software process improvement. To download one of our free eBooks, check out our CMMI Resources Page, or purchase one of our latest books on Amazon.

It is our hope during the holidays, and all year round, to help passionate, proactive people like you increase performance and improve quality at your company.

Happy 2015!

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.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Can we use an agile approach to adopting CMMI?

Hey CMMI Appraiser, we are a CMMI L2 scientific, engineering, and technology applications company. We’re looking for an organizational performance improvement program that aligns with the way we do things. Can we use an agile approach to implementing the CMMI? ~ Bill B.

Bill, yes, you can. Agile and CMMI can and do work very well together.  To clarify something quickly though: CMMI is a framework for improving whatever it is you need to do. It isn't really something you “implement.” But you absolutely can (and SHOULD) use agile methods to design and deploy the processes and behaviors that you need to be a great company. Using agile and CMMI together gives you a “best of both worlds” approach to that noble goal.


Several years ago, we pioneered “agileCMMI,” an iterative and incremental method for designing and deploying process solutions. With agileCMMI, we helped organizations take a “Scrum-like” approach to understanding the CMMI framework, and apply it to whatever they were working on.

CMMI improves the teams that are using Scrum (or any other technique, for that matter) because, in the case of Scrum, you have a minimalist approach to developing products in an iterative and incremental way. But Scrum does not cover everything required to drive performance, organization-wide. Many such best-practices exist within the CMMI.

So whether your goals are to successfully deliver software, achieve a CMMI Maturity Level, or get on the path to becoming a great company, the agileCMMI approach helps your organization improve incrementally and in a lightweight, useful way -- and reach your goals in a brave new world.

If you would like more information about using CMMI to strengthen agile, Bill, you are invited to participate in our upcoming Webinar: “Agile Resiliency – Scaling Agile so that It Thrives and Survives,” February 12, 2015 @ noon EST.


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.