Monday, September 12, 2011

We want our consultant on our Appraisal team - but our Lead Appraiser says it's a conflict. Is it?

Our lead appraiser says it’s a conflict of interest for our consultant to be on our appraisal team.  We want him on there.  Is that true?  ~ Blain Y.

Blain, in a recent post, I addressed the issue of who can be on your appraisal team, but the topic bears further discussion.  The answer is: It depends.

On the one hand, your CMMI consultant absolutely should be on the appraisal team, assuming they truly are CMMI consultants.  If so, they are probably skilled at facilitation, consensus building, managing groups of people and conversations.  They can advise you, manage you, help you communicate with your executives, and clear the path for the future so you can be successful. 

Those are attributes you want on your appraisal team.  Someone who can bring those consulting skills to an intense data analysis process is very welcome.

On the other hand, CMMI contractors who THINK they are CMMI consultants should not be on the team.

As I said in my last post, most people who call themselves consultants are really contractors. 

You can tell what they are by the role they play: Contractors, along with regular employees, are involved in writing documents or creating processes.  This is proper.  You don’t want someone from the outside to do that.  You want that done internally, because you are the only one who can really know what works for you.

But it’s incorrect to call them consultants.  We see this too often with offshore companies.  They send what they call consultants, and we call contractors.  You have to be clear that, when they send you contractors, you should not pay them, or listen to them, like consultants.  And you may not want to allow them on the appraisal team.

In this case, your Lead Appraiser would be correct to leave the contractor off the appraisal team.  It is a conflict of interest to have the writer of processes evaluate those processes.  However, if the person you want on the team really is a CMMI consultant, you are probably correct to want him on the Appraisal Team.

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

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