Friday, August 26, 2011

We'd like to adopt CMMI but my boss says "no way, it's for huge companies!" Is he right?

Dear Jeff – I’ve heard from my boss that CMMI is only for huge companies.  We’re no Lockheed Martin or Boeing, but we’re growing and want to do things the right way.  Do we have a shot at adopting CMMI?  ~Mitchell P.


You’re not alone in assuming that adopting CMMI is only for big companies like Lockheed-Martin and Boeing.  In fact, this was true, back in the old days, when companies with 2,000-3,000 or more employees were typically the ones adopting CMMI.  But if you look at recent data released by the SEI, contained within their March 2011 Maturity Profile Report (available here) and the analysis of over 5,000 organizations, you see that by far the largest category of companies adopting CMMI are under 100 employees.

And the cost is well worth it.  For the price of about one FTE you get dramatically improved performance, increased throughput, and higher quality.  Heck,  I'd trade that for five quality engineers!

What this tells you, Mitchell, is that you’re on the right track.  Smaller companies like yours are starting to dominate the market, in terms of adopting CMMI and in the new business you're starting to take on.  Sure, we still see a healthy representation by the large companies.  But the fact remains that the majority of organizations being appraised today are under 100 people.

Going forward, I would say that this looks like the trajectory we are on.  There are several reasons.  For one, a lot of the bigger companies are already using the CMMI, so it only makes sense that growth in the sector would come from smaller companies.  Another factor is that, as engineers leave those bigger companies to start their own small businesses, they bring along the methods and models that helped them be successful in the past.   Competing small businesses start getting their rear-ends kicked in sales, and they become interested in adopting CMMI as well.

It’s all part of a widespread movement by companies large and small in North America to put themselves on the path to greatness and compete in the global market.

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 adopting CMMI at

No comments: