Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser and why do I need one?

Dear Appraiser,

My boss said I need to go find a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser to conduct a CMMI Appraisal.  What is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, and why do I need one?  And why are they so expensive?

Well, you may not! :)  But if you want to receive a CMMI Maturity Level Rating, so that the great work you and your team have been doing can be verified and recognized, then you will need one.

A Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser (or "Lead Appraiser") is someone who is licensed and certified by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) to lead a CMMI Appraisal (technically called a "SCAMPI Appraisal") at your company and lead a team to a consensus on whether you meet the definition of a Maturity Level "x" company.

The method they follow, the Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement, or SCAMPI, is a regulated methodology that is to be performed with integrity for all companies who desire to be appraised.  Lead Appraisers are schooled, tested, and audited for their expertise in performing these appraisals, and about half of them are also CMMI Instructors.

Why are they so expensive?  Well, there are a number of reasons.

Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraisers TEND to be very experienced - many have not only been practicing engineers/software developers/project managers with advanced degrees, but have also been executives, leaders, authors, and successful consultants for many years.  In short, a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser needs to be "super-experienced" to succeed in their roles.  In addition to that, it is quite costly to go through the SEI's Lead Appraiser school, with many courses, examinations, observations, and other requirements that add to the costs.  Lead Appraisers must maintain a level of professional training and participation to keep their certification.  Finally, there are annual fees associated with being a Lead Appraiser, an SEI Partner, fee for conducting appraisals, and with maintaining currency.

For example, I have been a software developer, engineer, project manager, software architect, line manager, Chief Technology Officer, VP of Consulting, and CIO - all before I was a Lead Appraiser!

So they're not always your typical "consultants."  Many of them can add significant strategic value to your company due to their depth of experience.  In the end, the cost of a Lead Appraiser is tiny fraction of the overall cost of your process improvement program, so it's probably less important than, say, how much internal re-direct is going to be required to put your company on the Path to Greatness!

Good luck.

CMMI and SCAMPI are registered service marks of Carnegie Mellon University

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