Thursday, February 16, 2012

Our CMMI Consultant says CMMI and Scrum are compatible – but how?

Dear CMMI Appraiser,

Our CMMI Consultant recommended that we learn to reconcile the CMMI side of our house and the Scrum side by sending our Scrum Team your upcoming CMMI+Scrum training session at SEPG next month. The problem is, I don’t think they’ll like the idea. It’s not my style to force people to do what they don’t want to do – but I’m intrigued by the potential benefits. How do I talk about your CMMI training in a manner that will be palatable to them? ~ Lucas C.


You have a wise CMMI Consultant! It seems every day, more CMMI Consultants get that CMMI and Agile are compatible, and that CMMI and Scrum really can and do coexist.

And you seem to be a wise leader, as well. There are tremendous benefits to the company if the CMMI and Agile sides of the house can come together.  Otherwise, they grow farther apart and become almost unrecognizable as a single entity.  Of course, there shouldn't be two SIDES, but sadly there often are.

Yes, my CMMI+Scrum class can help. It’s not just for your Scrum team, either – I encourage you, your CMMI Consultant and CMMI Appraisal Team to attend.

But, to your question, how to make it palatable? For starters, I recommend sending them the following links. We had a hot exchange here on Ask the CMMI Appraiser not long ago on this very topic. Someone even called me a stuffed suit!  Your CMMI Consultant may recognize these strong opinions:

Is CMMI+Scrum the Real Deal?
Is CMMI+Scrum for Agile Purists?
Can CMMI+Scrum Break the Vicious Cycle?

Another thing you can do, Lucas, is take the opportunity to talk to them about their career aspirations. Pull back the curtain for the Scrum team and show them some of the projects that are running within the company’s CMMI framework.

If your organization is like too many others, it probably has relegated the smaller, less important projects to Agile and Scrum, believing that it is not scalable for larger, more complex projects. A lot of companies think, “If I have to build a Web site, we can be Agile, but if I’m developing a system to be used for building space vehicles, Agile is not appropriate.”

Be open to changing your mind. Ask them if they aspire to work on projects of that kind of magnitude. You may find that your Scrum teams, like many in the Agile community, are eager to move into the more complex and important projects.

Then clue them into the fact that there is absolutely nothing about Scrum that stops it from being used on any project.  The roadblock is the way people implement the paradigm. If they aren’t doing the things they need to do to make your company great, then how can they work on the larger, more complex projects? In other words, implementation, not Scrum, is the problem.

Once again, we are back on this issue of trust. I have another question, this time from a CMMI Consultant about my CMMI training, that may shed more light for you.  I will respond shortly, so check back.

Hope to meet you and your team in Albuquerque!

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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