Wednesday, December 7, 2011

All I want for Christmas is a successful CMMI program!

Jeff, I’m an executive in a mid-sized engineering firm, leading my first CMMI adoption project.  All I really want for Christmas is for it to be a success.  Can you give me some tips?

~ Vincent A.

Vincent, well, let me check my list . . . hold on, I'm checking it twice … Yes, I see you’ve been a good executive this year.  I’ll be happy to give you tips on how to be even better.

First, let’s be clear that the most important part of the CMMI, IMHO, are the Generic Practices (or GPs).  Aptly numbered for the season, there are 12 of them, and they are the responsibility of executives like you who are leading the CMMI effort.  So why not adopt one for each of the Twelve Days of Christmas?

Allow me to answer your question with a series of posts called … the Twelve Days of CMMI.  Warm up your vocal chords now....

Sing along with me now: “On the first day of Christmas, my boss he gave to to me, a box with a shiny policy..."

Generic Practice 2.1 – Establish an Organizational Policy

The first GP guides us to set organizational expectations for all practitioners for performing the processes.

Let’s unwrap that, shall we?

There are 22 process areas in the CMMI.  That’s 22 areas of study, so to speak.  Each one of those 22 areas has these 12 Generic Practices.  The reason they are called “generic” is because they are generic to everything.

Since there are 22 process areas, you as management, have to unambiguously set the expectation that all 22 of them (if that’s what you are doing), have to be used, followed, deployed, measured and evaluated.  

Now, let's not get crazy with all this egg nog.  You don't need 22 policies - just be sure the policies you DO have "cover" all of the process areas.  And when you're addressing CMMI level three, it gets a little more voluminous.

It may not seem obvious, but GP 2.1 is very pivotal to the success of your program (and your engineers).  It guides you to provide a clear and unambiguous setting of expectations by management that the employees will use the process as it has been written and defined.

The Grinch version is "if you want to work here you'll do it!"  But I prefer the good cheer version: "if you would like your job's to be easier, want to go home earlier to do a little christmas shopping, and have bette projects, here's what we need you to do."

Remember, Vincent, adopting the CMMI is 100% about solving business problems.  It’s not about documents.  But the more we use it, and the more we work with companies that are using the CMMI, the more we realize that this is a model that's about how great companies perform.

Too many CMMI Consultants don't get this.  They thinking it's about passing an audit.  All you get from this is some coal in a stinky stocking.

We like the nice, freshly wrapped gift of a great company!

Start setting expectations today.  And check back soon for the 2nd Day of CMMI!

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

Learn more about CMMI Adoption at

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