Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Do I need CMMI Training to understand the requirements for data sources for appraisals?

Dear Appraiser, I have attended your CMMI trainings … do we need more CMMI training before we can employ proper data collection techniques?  ~ Jorge

Jorge, to pick up the thread of my earlier post,  SCAMPI v. 1.3 tells us we are required to articulate what your data collection strategy is going to be.  The strategy needs to include your specifying the data sources. Here's a bit of a primer.

The data sources can include the following:

  1. Presentations
This is one of the techniques, in CMMI training, that I teach in my classes to employ at the start of an appraisal.   By using this technique you learn from having each in-scope project give a presentation to the team about their project.  They provide a thumbnail sketch about who they are, what they do, how big they are, what the financials are, what the schedule is, what methods they are using, etc.  They will give a data dump to the appraisal team so that they can have some context about what the project is supposed to be about.

  1. Demonstrations
My CMMI training classes and webinars (www.broadswordsolutions.com/resources) gives you tips for collecting data from demonstrations.  For example, if we ask them, “What are you using to store your documents?” they will answer, “we’re using Webex and this SharePoint tool,” or, “we’re just doing it on our network drive.”  Whatever the case, I might say, “OK.  Show me.”  Then they give me a demonstration of that tool, and that would satisfy the requirement of getting the affirmative evidence from this data source.  By the way, printing out the menu page of a tool as evidence is something people often do for evidence - - - kind of a waste of time.  Just SHOW ME!

Why did the the SEI spell all of this out?  Short answer: because people sometimes lack imagination.  Sometimes they read ‘affirmations,’ and say, “Oh, an affirmation is an interview.”  So they make their people memorize processes and policies so that they can talk about them in the interview.  Or, even worse, they do a screen print of the login screen of their document repository and present it as an artifact.  I say, “Don’t go crazy with this.  Just boot it up and show it to me.”  uh oh..... they're in trouble now!

  1. Structured interviews:
These include customized questions that are scripted and get asked during the interview.  The questions are created specifically for each appraisal based on everything I have learned about you - so don't bring in your LA at the last minute!  Our CMMI training cover these concepts, as well as …

  1. Questionnaires: predesigned questions that are scripted and get asked via a survey.
How do these techniques affect you and your company?  Lead Appraisers will specify in advance how we are going to collect the data, put it in writing, and get your agreement.  Again, like most of these supposedly new ways of conducting appraisals, good Lead Appraisers were already doing this.  We were saying something like the following:

 “Here’s exactly how we’re going to collect the data.  You need to prepare your projects to present to the team.  You need to prepare your systems to be demonstrated to us on the first day.”

That approach works when you were dealing with qualified Lead Appraisers.  Unfortunately, some (too many!) don't have any of this figured out.  They show up for the appraisal without sufficient planning and it  quickly turns into a goat rodeo.  Oh yea....these are the cheap ones.

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

Learn more about CMMI Training at www.broadswordsolutions.com

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