Monday, January 16, 2012

You mean I have to collect and analyze my own data?

Dear CMMI Appraiser,

I sent my software engineers to your CMMI training class recently to get them ready for the CMMI Appraisal we will be starting next month. While I am satisfied that they are now prepared, I don’t like what they apparently learned about data collection and characterization. I told them we need our Lead Appraiser to perform this time-consuming work. According to the team, you think WE need to do it? ~ Paul B.

Hey, Paul,

You know, I distinctly remember getting a lot of push-back from some folks in a recent CMMI training about data collection and characterization. Now I know why!

Let me tell you what I told them, and will tell anybody else from your company who tries to delegate this critical responsibility: It is up to you to collect and begin characterizing this important data.

That’s because appraisals are about you - not about me.  They're about people inside your company know more about operations than anyone else.  Why?  Because I can't fix your problems, only you can!

Appraisals are about you and your team - not about a consultant.

True, collecting and characterizing data can be difficult. It can be time consuming. But the same is true for eating healthy, right? Taking the time to plan, shop for, prepare and eat a nutritious meal can be pretty rigorous. It’s far quicker and easier to roll through the drive-thu and grab a bag of hot, greasy fast food. But that type of behavior can have negative health consequences over time.

mmmmm....sure looks good though, doesn't it?

Which brings me to my favorite thing about the CMMI. It’s all about changing behaviors that have negative consequences.

So let me play that back for you again. “Jeff, could you provide someone to perform data collection for us?”

Sure I could! Just like I could plan, shop for, prepare and eat a delicious, nutritious meal for you! You sit in traffic, gorging on French fries, and I’ll eat right.

How nice for me!  But exactly what benefit would YOU get out of that?

None. For the same reason, I won’t let you deny yourself the chance to become a great, continually improving company.

Call me Dr. CMMI, but I’d much rather see you get healthy. I’d much rather see you master the data collection process and make it your own.

I may be more passionate about this topic than others, but it’s not just me anymore. Now that the "managed discovery" approach has been introduced in SCAMPI v1.3, you’ll find more and more Lead Appraisers recommend that you to collect and categorize your own data.

Though it is a new requirement in the SCAMPI process, I've always conducted CMMI appraisals this way, as have most of the leading Lead Appraiser (leading lead appraisers? I'm getting a recursion headache).  I've always told companies to collect and characterize their own data. Or, more precisely, that we will do a lot of it together.

Yes, your Lead Appraiser will HELP you collect an analyze the data.  But a good one will teach you how to develop this important skill for yourself.

After all, why are we doing this in the first place? NOT to get the artifacts to complete the CMMI appraisal. NOT even to achieve "CMMI certification."

No, the purpose of collecting and characterizing data is to give yourself more ways to become better as a person and a company.

So get with the program, Paul!  You’re a good executive. You’ve got a good team.  And a good company!

It’s time to start learning the behaviors that will make you great.

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.

No comments: