Thursday, January 19, 2012

Is CMMI+Scrum the real deal?

Hey CMMI Appraiser

Our Scrum team is going to SEPG North America in Albuquerque this year, and our boss wants us to attend your CMMI+Scrum Learning Experience. We are an agile shop that has ZERO interest in following the CMMI, because we know the two are not compatible at all. Are you for real? ~ Leslie B.

Hey, Leslie,

I think so ... let me pinch myself. OUCH! That hurts! Yes, I'm for real.

And here's the real deal. Scrum and the CMMI actually ARE very compatible. But maybe in not the way you think. Together, they actually make each other, your team AND your company better.

Please keep an open mind, Leslie, and I'll try to lay out the User Story.

First, as you may know, both agile and the CMMI are frameworks. Scrum and process improvement are implementations of those frameworks. In other words, agile is a framework, which Scrum was developed to fit within. And the CMMI is a framework that process improvement fits within. So you can think of both agile and the CMMI as being like containers which hold the keys to implementing whatever it is you’re implementing.

CMMI is not a process that you follow, it’s something more conceptual. You don't "implement CMMI."  Likewise, agile is not a process that you follow, it’s conceptual. The improvements you make in your company require specific implementations, like implementing Scrum, XP, or spiral for example.

In my "CMMI+Scrum Learning Experience," which will be delivered on the first day of the conference, your team will learn a few things about the CMMI that can help your company get better:

1. On the Scrum side, CMMI can help strengthen and improve what your team delivers.

2. On the management side, CMMI can help your boss understand what’s going on and what information he should expect.

Just guessing here, but it could be that your boss wants you to attend my CMMI+Scrum training so that you can help him come up with ways for you to help him understand what you're up to. It's pretty common in my experience that management sometimes mis-understands the power of Scrum. They see it as black magic that somehow is getting results. They may not really know what is going on and are mostly afraid to ask.  It happens.

Look at it from their perspective.  They're used to numbers, MS Project schedules, and spreadsheets.  They often live in a waterfall world with suits, ties, and fancy tassels on their shoes.  They get the willies when they see team rooms, skate boards, jolt cola, sticky notes, and user stories.  Scaaaaary!

Ultimately, Leslie, that hurts you more than it helps you. For one thing, companies tend to relegate the smaller and less important projects to the Scrum team. They have the perception that agile and Scrum are not scalable for large, complex and meaningful projects. As a result, folks like you and your colleagues are not always given the big, cool projects, and you may be unable to contribute in the manner that you would like to, which hurts professionally and personally.

So let me flip that around, Leslie, and ask YOU to get real. Understanding how to integrate the CMMI with your Scrum implementation can have a real, lasting impact on your company and your career.

Here's the link to register:  I hope I'll see you there!

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

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead AppraiserCertified 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.

Visit for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

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