Monday, January 9, 2012

When Should We Do Our Next CMMI Appraisal?

I run a 120-person engineering company that has had 100% turnover in our CMMI Appraisal Team since completing our CMMI Appraisal in August of 2009. As a result, I am not sure when we need to restart the CMMI Appraisal process and renew our CMMI certification. Do we have until August of this year? ~ Dylan D. 

Dylan, if you’ve had a lot of turnover as a result of adopting the CMMI, it sounds like you have bigger problems than renewal. As the leader, you need to take a step back and consider whether your organization has a healthy approach to the CMMI. Based on your question, I suspect it may not.

What does an unhealthy adoption of the CMMI look like? You see your team putting in long hours, working nights and weekends in a miserable attempt to comply with what they think the CMMI “requires” them to do. They waste time meeting, documenting and chasing paper, rather than actually trying to become a better company.

Does that sound familiar? Then you need to get healthy before you waste more time on another CMMI appraisal. So how do you get healthy?

Stop looking at the CMMI as something you have to “do,” and start looking at it as a set of best-practices of many successful organizations that can serve as a model for you to be successful. Stop focusing on what documents you produce, and more on how you act. And most importantly, stop being concerned with "CMMI certification" and think about what it takes to be a professional company.

Now, this might shock you, but having a healthy approach actually makes the CMMI fun. And it makes it easier to achieve a Maturity Level.  i know it's hard to believe, but trust me on this one!

Personally, I find the CMMI to be highly engaging and rewarding, both personally and professionally. We convey this spirit in my CMMI training classes. Contrary to what you’d expect, a healthy attitude toward the CMMI is contagious. Participants in the CMMI training classes are inspired to drive a spirit of continuous improvement in their organizations. So, to get healthy, the CMMI training class may be your best medicine.

Now to your question:

The duration between SCAMPI appraisals is three years. That means if you want to maintain your ML3 rating, you will need to complete a SCAMPI "A" by August of 2012. Depending on your current health and readiness, however, there may be a lot to do. Many clients I work with commission a SCAMPI "C" to evaluate their health and readiness before scheduling the higher-cost SCAMPI "A" to renew their rating. Assume that you need to start ASAP. 

So take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

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.

Visit for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

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