Thursday, May 20, 2010

Are Practices really "expected?" They really mean "required" don't they?

There often seems to be heavy debate about the implementation of Specific Practices. I know the model says they’re Expected, but aren’t they really required? Kind of like when your boss says “I expect you to have this done Monday morning,” he really means “I require you to…”
I’m just not sure how else you could satisfy a Specific or Generic Goal without doing the Practices. I was also told by a very seasoned SEI employee (teacher and certified high maturity lead appraiser) that he had never seen an “Alternative Practice” used to complete an SP. For example, is there any way we would complete the Requirements Management PA if we didn’t do bi-directional traceability or have a change proposal process? Could we pass Configuration Management without keeping CM records or performing CM audits?
We’re young in our CMMI deployment so I’m trying to set the expectation now as to what we really need to be doing. Thank you very much for your help and clarification.
I expect you to follow my advice…. Unless you have a better idea!
Seriously, it’s a great question. I interpret the “practices are expected” statement a little differently than you though.
In the CMMI model Goals are “Required” – no exceptions! Well….wait, except SG2 in OPD and SG3 in IPM (IPPD) . . .and both Goals in SAM if…. don’t get me started J
The practices are what the authors of the model “expect” you to do to achieve the goal – but they wanted to leave the door open for things they didn’t consider. If you were to ask a seasoned SEI employee (and a HMLA at that) about what things they didn’t consider, they might answer “nothing” – but on the other hand, they’re not practitioners they’re researchers. But they did want to leave open the possibility of “alternative practices” to satisfy the goals – so that’s the reason for the language.
Now, getting a lead appraiser to pay attention long enough to be properly educated on your alternative to the practices under a goal may be harder than it sounds…. but that’s another rant.
Someone told you none exist? Hogwash. Examples? Sure, here are some. TS.SP1.1/SP1.2 and practices in SAM and DAR all address decision making for the purpose of selecting technology or suppliers right? But what if your customer MANDATES a supplier? Or what if your company buys a product line from another company and you are obligated to use the same platform and development tools? Are you going to “select alternative solutions or “select suppliers?” Probably not. Those are both “alternatives.”
You’d be amazed at the useless work some companies perform just to be “compliant” when it makes no business sense. Dumb.
Do yourself a favor. Stop worrying about compliance. Worry about how to become a great company . . . .then if there are any gaps (there won’t be many) fill them in using the lightest process you can. And then find a Lead Appraiser who gets it and is willing to work hard to understand your business enough to fairly appraise you.
So, back to my first sentence. I expect you to follow my advice, unless you have a better way to achieve your goal!

No comments: