Monday, December 12, 2011

It’s a Wonderful CMMI Program

We started an early Christmas party here at “Ask the CMMI Appraiser” last week when an engineering exec wrote in that all he wanted for Christmas was a successful CMMI program.  Nothing a little of Mrs. Appraiser's egg-nog couldn't fix, so away we went!

He was frustrated because previous attempts to get a CMMI certificate had failed.  Asking for CMMI Certification is like asking for a Commodore-64 for Christmas when you clearly need an XBox - big waste!  Our hope in throwing the party was to remind this fellow of the immortal words of Clarence the Angel, who said, “No man is a failure, if he has friends.”

Do you feel crushed by a rigid, “one size fits all” view of the CMMI? Depressed by "over-compliance?"  Too much process overhead?  Saddled with hideous process debt?

Sounds like you need a friend. And I know just the guy

In our opinion, the best way to make friends with your CMMI program is to understand the Generic Practices (GPs), which are not discussed nearly enough. Because there are 12 GPs – like the Twelve Days of Christmas – and because we are always ready for a party, we got the great idea of adopting one GP per day. This was quickly followed by the not-so-great idea of going around the neighborhood, signing about it at the top of our lungs.  Turns out the lady at the end of my block does not share my enthusiasm about CMMI.  Her loss!

What can we say? There was egg-nog involved.

We're having too much fun to turn back now!  So join us for Day 6 of the 12 Days of CMMI. All together now!

“On the sixth day of Christmas, my boss she gave to me:

six storage systems,
four new assignments,
three new compliers,
two process plans,
and a box with a shiny policy.” 

Generic Practice 2.6 – Control Work Products 

GP2.6 guides us to place designated work products of the process under appropriate levels of configuration management.

Why? Because it’s awful to lose things. Remember George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart), when the money turns up missing from the Bailey Building and Loan Association in “It’s a Wonderful Life”?  They searched everywhere, but can’t find it. George concludes that he is worth more dead than alive – and it takes a guardian angel to convince him otherwise.  Please don't that happen to you!

What if the same thing were to happen to your work products? What if they were lost and the pressure was bearing down on you to produce them, or else?

Don’t jump! GP 2.6 is your guardian angel.

GP 2.6 basically provides a double layer of protection for you. First, it offers us guidance to manage all of your reams of documents, databases, and other work products that are produced as a result of running a successful project. Second, it provides guidance on how to store those documents and work products, and manage them in some kind of repository or system.

Examples of work products placed under configuration management include:

• Specifications of base and derived measures
• Data collection and storage procedures
• List of configuration items
• Design templates

and more .....

Pretty logical, right?

At any rate, that’s how it works at Santa’s Workshop. The elf-engineers need consistent access to the descriptions of how the process works. They need examples, templates and tools. If they can’t get access to them, or don’t know where to find them, the work products of the process won’t get found or used. They'll have no place to store their work products.  Christmas would be canceled. Oh nooooooo!

But the good news is, thanks to GP 2.6, the elves CAN find them. Work products of the process ARE found and used. And we know this is true because, every Christmas morning, all around the world, the good little boys and girls wake up to yet another perfectly orchestrated gift launch.  All thanks to GP2.6!

Of course, a CMMI Training class will help all the elves understand what they are supposed to do with GP2.6.

We tried to tell our exec friend with the failed CMMI certification: there's a lot to like about Santa as a jolly, generous fat man.  But his best characteristic as a leader is that he understands that adopting the CMMI is all about solving business problems. It’s not about documents, forms, certificates or ratings. It’s about adopting a model that's about how great organizations perform ...

... Which, in turn, is about living a wonderful life.

So, my friends, let's apply GP 2.6 in our workshop today and every day.  Let's live a wonderful life.

Each time you do, an angel earns his wings.

Like this blog?  Forward to your nearest software or engineering exec!

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

No comments: