Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My company wants me to be their Lead Appraiser. When can I start?

Dear Appraiser,

Our organization wants to go to CMMI level 5, and we are currently at level 2. Our management wants to sponsor me, their employee, to be CMMI Lead Appraiser for the following reasons:

1. They can start their own consultancy service
2. Get process improvements and maturity effectively
3. To reduce the cost of SCAMPI A by getting it conducted by their own Lead Auditor (which is due every after 3 years)

I've looked up the requirements and I think I can become an LA for the cost of the Introduction to CMMI class, the Intermediate CMMI Class, and the SCAMPI Lead Appraiser Class.  How much does it cost and how soon can I start the Appraisal?

Whoaaaaa Nellie!  Take a step back 'der pard'ner!

Wow!  That's so cool that they want to start a whole service offering based on you only taking a couple of classes.  Parrrrrrrrrty!!!!  I bet they can't wait for the big Lead Appraiser bucks to pile in!  And that super-easy CMMI ML5 Appraisal - how cool is that?

I'm sorry, but there are a few teensey-weensy steps you left out.

First of all, appraising your own organization is, shall we say, highly suspect, so I'm not sure that's a good business plan.

As far as training, you did identify some of the basic training, although if your going to conduct CMMI ML5 appraisals, you also need to take the "Understanding CMMI High Maturity Practices" class.

An of course, the SEI Observation - a grueling 5-10 day appraisal where an SEI Observer is watching your every move.  Stressssssssfuuuuuul!

And then there are the exams.  One after the Intermediate class, one after the SCAMPI Lead Appraiser Training Class, then the SCAMPI Certified Lead Appraiser Exam, and the SCAMPI Certified High Maturity Lead Appraiser exam.  Whew!  And you can't take them all at once!

There are waiting periods and experience requirements between each step of course - because it's more about real-life experience than it is about classes. 

Of course, all along the way there are pre-requisites to progress to each next step.  Plan on about 3-5 years of intense study, practice, and experience before you even try to go there.

The bigger problem is that I think you have missed the point entirely.  A Lead Appraiser is a highly experienced practitioner whose skill set only begins with knowledge of the CMMI.  A good Lead Appraiser has excellent communications, consulting, and teaching skills.  This is important because a Lead Appraiser's job is not to help you pass the appraisal, it's to help you become a better company.

I recommend you begin your CMMI study and begin using the model everyday so that you can learn all the great things it can help you with.  Take the Introduction to CMMI class and then work with the model some more.  Then a couple of years later, take the Intermediate class.  If, after that, you're convinced you want to become a Lead Appraiser, apply to the program.

Being a CMMI Lead Appraiser is a vocation - not a something you do quickly.

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 www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

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