Friday, April 10, 2009

How to not pick a Lead Appraiser!

Dear Readers, 
I often get questions about how to go about choosing a Lead Appraiser.  LAs should be selected after a careful discussion of their experience, knowledge, culture, philosophy, and willingness to spend the energy to learn about your business before he/she waves his magic wand and proclaims you MLx (of course, it's more complex than that!).
By way of example, here is the worst possible thing you can do.  I had an inquiry the other day that went like this:
 Riiinnnnng! (telephone)
Me: “hello?”
Caller:  “hi, we’re shopping for an LA to give us a maturity level.”
Me: “Wow.  hmmm.  Great.  Well, uhh, ok...  tell me, what are some the reasons you are interested in achieving a CMMI maturity level?”
Caller: “We don’t need to talk about all that. We have a company from India that says they can take us from ML1 to ML3 in three months for $15,000.  Can you beat that?”
Me and my telephone: “click”
I’m serious.


Anonymous said...

I do not think that this is the exception to the rule; the question is what do the SEI really want to do about this?
We passed/gained/achieved CMMI level 3 some months ago (possibly co-incidentally with a company based in India) & the lead appraiser was absolutely clueless. He had no knowledge on how to interpret the standard, & hence if we did not interpret it exactly the way he knew then the continually threatened to 'fail' us. We tried contacting SEI customer relations who in a round about way said that there was more than 1 way to interpret things, BUT who then said it was up to the Lead Appraiser!
Unless the SEI accept that not all appraisers are perfect & listen the concerns of others this is only going to perpetuate.
CMMI is optional, companies generally take it on to improve the way they work through choice so they want to improve.

Jeff Dalton said...

In my experience there are many fine and well trained SCAMPI Lead Appraiser's in our industry, but there are also a fair share of people who just don't "get it." One of my rules of thumb is that to be an LA one must not only be an expert with the model, but also an expert at one or more engineering disciplines (mine is software engineering and program management).

it sounds like you heard the politically correct answer from the SEI, which is appropriate give their role in the system.

All the more important reason to be careful when selecting a Lead Appraiser to work with!