Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Is it possible to use the CMMI Dev model on projects that start and finish within 2 to 3 months?

Good Afternoon- is it possible to use the CMMI Dev model on projects that start and finish within 2 to 3 months?  It seems like a lot of work and documentation efforts to use the model for a 60 or 90 day effort?
If these are the only type of projects we have for an appraisal- will that suffice?

What a great question!  If I had a nickel for every time I got this I'd . . . well, I'd probably still be posting on this blog :)

YES YES YES!!!  Did I say YES?

I often start conference speeches with a slide that says "If you only remember one thing . . . "  and then I go on to joke about how it's a good time to stay awake - even if it's right after lunch - because I'm about to say something REALLY IMPORTANT!

CMMI Appraisals are NOT about documents!!!!  Documents are merely one method for verifying process performance.  And the amount of documents (number, size, and scope) should reflect the needs of your projects.  If you took a CMMI Training course and you "learned" that the CMMI was about documents - go ask for your money back!

The hardest part about CMMI is the lack of imagination adopters sometimes have.  You don't need a big, massive document - sometimes "just-enough" is the right amount.

Ask yourself the question (honestly): what makes sense for my organization?  This might be harder than you think.  

Here's an actual exchange I've had with a client:

CLIENT: "We heard your message about only producing documentation that makes sense for us.  We've thought about it, and we don't think we need to write requirements down.  It doesn't seem useful.  Can we be Level three?"

ME: "Hmm.  OK, maybe.  Say, what happened on this one project that was really late?"

CLIENT: "Oh, THAT one.  What a pain in the neck!  The customer kept adding things, and then they changed their mind, and the main guy retired, and then no one could remember what they wanted.  We really lost our shirt on that one!"

ME: "Really?  I'm shocked."

If you have simple, short-term projects, you may have very few documents.  You might use a Scrum board, photos of white-board designs, and some basic process descriptions to manage your work.  You might record important technical decisions in code, you might trace requirements using a simple indexing scheme.

If you're building the space shuttle (or disassembling it I guess now . . . ), you know already that more documents would be "sufficient."

As a Lead Appraiser, it's my job to first understand your context, and make decisions about "sufficiency" based on what your projects really need.  I'll admit, some LA's find this more difficult than others, but most of us are pretty flexible (if yours isn't . . . keep looking!).

I recommend a "document diet" to all my clients.   Proactively identify "must have" work products, and identify some "optional" work products that you would really like to see people use because they are useful to manage the project, design systems, or share information.   You might be surprised with what you end up with.

Good luck!

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 great CMMI Consultants at www.broadswordsolutions.com/consulting

No comments: