Saturday, July 9, 2011

I hear that the new version of CMMI says we can ignore "Indirect" Artifacts

Hey, Jeff

Our boss says we know what we're doing and we’re going to go it alone in preparing for our CMMI appraisal.  After reading the changes to the SCAMPI model, we have a question.  Is it really true that people preparing for CMMI appraisals can ignore indirect artifacts?  In other words, I don’t have to get these anymore, right? - Mike H.

Whoooo whoooo!  Party time!  No more indirects!!!!!

Hey, Mike – You are not alone in your confusion over the changes in SCAMPI v1.3 regarding direct and indirect artifacts.

If you are preparing for a CMMI appraisal on your own, you need to understand these concepts thoroughly, or miss your chance at becoming a great company (you DID know that it's not about CMMI Certification right?).  When a lead appraiser – a good one – conducts appraisals, he looks for both kinds of artifacts, direct and indirect.  Both are needed to demonstrate process performance, regardless of what SCAMPI v1.3 says.

He will look for direct artifacts, those were created as a result of having gone through a process.  For example, let’s say your company went through the process of creating a sales plan.  The direct artifact is the binder that the plan is presented in. 

He will also look for indirect artifacts, those that show how the process unfolded.  Emails, calendar entries, project management reports, etc. are indirect artifacts that show how the plan in the binder was created.

The change to SCAMPI doesn't say ARTIFACT . . . it says ARTIFACTS!  One "direct" isn't gonna cut it.

A good lead appraiser wants to see the binder, and wants to know how it was produced.  When he sees all of the emails, he can say, “Oh, you created this sales plan in collaboration with these people, and they came down to visit you, and this is the output.”

In other words, a good lead appraiser operates as though not much has changed at all.

So why did they change the rules, if they didn’t intend for behaviors to change?

It can be traced back to an honest effort to bring in more perspectives from throughout the community.  When the new version of SCAMPI was being developed, the SEI thoughtfully asked for feedback from a lot of people.  Some of them, through no fault of their own, had limited knowledge of CMMI or SCAMPI, and were getting confused over what was direct and indirect evidence.  They complained that inventory effort required to catalogue direct and indirect artifacts was burdensome.

So the SEI said, “OK, we’ll simplify this concept for v1.3, and we’re just going to say that you have to provide artifacts.”  That's with an "s."

But don’t think this means you can take the rest of the day off.  You still have to provide appropriate artifacts.  The new version of SCAMPI still requires evidence of what the project produced (direct artifact) and how it came about (indirect artifacts).  We just don’t care as much about categorizing.
Unfortunately, no matter what rules you have, someone will try to skirt around them. Some of our certificate-wielding friends (you know who you are) sometimes seem to spend more time figuring out how to get around the rules than following them.  If their Lead Appraiser lets them get away with that, shame on both of them.
So, you rule skirters out there (not you, Mike), those of you who want the CMMI certificate only: Don’t celebrate yet.  Nothing has really changed regarding the importance of different types of artifacts.   The SEI is just making your inventory system a little bit easier.

You still have your shot at greatness. Go for it!

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.

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