Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yes, Virginia, there is a successful CMMI Program

It’s a holly, jolly Christmas here at the “Ask the CMMI Appraiser” 12 Days of CMMI party. The egg-nog is flowing, and everyone is warm and toasty except for the Director of Quality, who lost her boot in the back yard while stomping out a giant message in the snow:


A programmer named Virginia objected. “Some of my friends in testing say there’s no such thing,” she said (isn't it always the testers that bring us down?).  “Prove to me that there is a successful CMMI program.”

As you know if you’ve been out caroling with us these last several days, the whole point of our 12 Days of CMMI party is to celebrate the 12 Generic Practices (GPs), which are foundational to the success of any CMMI program.

Apparently, Virginia is late to the party. So why don’t we take her along with us on another trip around the neighborhood, because …

It’s Day 7 of the 12 Days of CMMI. Sing it!

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

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

Generic Practice 2.7 – Identify and Involve Relevant Stakeholders

The seventh GP guides us to identify and involve relevant stakeholders of the process as planned.

GP 2.7 is another pivotal practice. It advocates the idea that if you identify and INVOLVE all the relevant stakeholders, and PLAN for their involvement, you'll increase the chances that they will show up and do what you want them to do.

Especially people like Virginia, who won’t believe the CMMI can be successful until they see it.  Perhaps Virginia was being treated as if she is an "irrelevant" stakeholder. Not cool!

Hey Virginia, maybe you want me to come by and rough a few people up?

Now, a process might have within it dozens or hundreds of interactions between individuals or groups. In Santa’s workshops, for example, everything is made by thousands of interconnected elves, all of whom wear green shoes. GP 2.7 holds the team together by identifying and involving all the right elves at the right time.

And what a team they make! They can build anything from electronics to joke books to live pets, with few defects. That’s because Santa has identified and mapped what those interactions are, and who the stakeholders are in each interaction.

This interpretation of the CMMI (and GP 2.7) has worked so well for Santa over the years that he expanded it to cover all operations of all of the North Pole. He mapped everything from marketing to product design to manufacturing to shipping and handling, with each elf responsible for each part of the process.

Except for those lawyers.  You just can't get them under control no matter what you do.  Just ask Bill Shakespeare.

So Virginia, are you starting to get the big picture? There’s a whole other side to process and performance improvement that you’ve never experienced.  It's the side that makes Santa so successful that he can bring every kid in the world toys in one night.  Now that's an awesome process!

Unfortunately, we’ve found that the typical software engineering organization is too chaotic. Performance is unpredictable, projects are late and over budget, and you can never predict what you’re going to get.   It’s the only engineering discipline in the world allowed to operate this way.

By contrast, take a look at Santa. Clean shop. Happy elves. Work products on time, on budget and with all the requirements managed an documented.  That’s because he uses a lightweight, agile approach to the CMMI, with GP 2.7 guiding him to identify and map what those interactions are, and who the stakeholders are in each interaction.

If they didn't have GP2.7 they would always be at ELF-CON 1!

Notice how he takes out the unpredictability and replaces it with sound engineering practices? See how performance improves across the board?

Results like that will get everyone believing in the true spirit of the CMMI, which is to do the things that make a company great.

Yes, Virginia, there is a successful CMMI program.

Like this blog?  Forward to your nearest engineering or software 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 www.broadswordsolutions.com.

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