The following is live 'blogged from Jeff's "Ask the CMMI Appraiser" session at SEPG 2008.
Under what circumstances would you remove an ATM?
The appraisal team needs to be cohesive and productive team and will be working long hours in cramped conditions. Sounds like a plumber!
There are two conditions under which I would remove an appraisal team member.
The first is when the ATM is being so disruptive that the team cannot work effectively. This included bullying (to get people to agree with them), excessive arguing, being lazy (not pulling their load), being consistently late, or just being plain disgusting in some way.
The second is if it is discovered that their is conflict of interest - if an ATM is the manager of projects or groups being interviewed, or if they are related to any of the interviewees, or if some other condition exists that may cloud their judgment - such as if they were the author of many of the processes being evaluated. Don't laugh, it happens!
Are Agile and the CMMI Compatible?
Yes, of course they are. CMMI is methodology agnostic and although it may read like a "waterfall" method, it isn't. I've seen many organizations implement agile processes that work well for CMMI. As a matter of fact, by far the largest number of failures in the implementation of process is with "waterfall" projects.
When you’re starting out with process definitions in a very small organization is it standard to stop development until definitions are defined?
This is what I call the "changing the engine while the car is racing" questions. If only this could be done, our job would be easy! No, I would not recommend this. A better approach would be to incrementally develop and deploy process in many small pieces, allowing people to focus 95% of their time on engineering tasks, and 5% on the develop and deployment of process. If rolled out in several releases over time it can be relatively painless.
What the heck is a technical data package?
The term Technical Data Package, or "TDP," for those of you "in the know" is your set of work products associated with design, coding, and testing of your application. This set should be well understood, well defnined, and having a reasonably standard look and feel.
What is a technical data package in an Agile environment?
Not much different than in a traditional environment, although medium and complexity can differ. For instance, a whiteboard drawing that is photographed and stored in a project repository can be an acceptable alternative to a Visio diagram.
Is it possible for a LA to conduct an Appraisal without the LA actually being onsite?
There is nothing in the MDD that says that an LA MUST be on site at all times - although an appraisal conducted this way would be very difficult to perform, and possibly could result in an innacurate result. Understanding the context of the organization is the most important thing for an LA and I can't imagine how this could be done remotely.
Are there any conditions where a LA would choose not to continue on with the Appraisal?
Yes. One example is if the organization being appraised has been coached on their answers in an effort to fool the LA into thinking they are doing something they are not. People always think they can fool us, but it's so obvious when they do it I feel bad for them.
Another scenario is when they're just not ready for an appraisal. There’s a lot of high pressure during appraisals and if its discovered that it is going to lead to an unsuccessful appraisal, I might tell them to wait a few months and try again.