Sunday, February 12, 2012

What's the best way to keep our appraisals cost effective?

Hey Jeff,

Appraisals cost a lot of money!  We think they're worth doing, but how do we keep them cost effective? ~Bil


If I had a nickel for every time someone asks me that . . . . my life would be more cost effective!

People often fuss about the cost of appraisals, and they focus on the cost of the Lead Appraiser - but that's the smallest part!  The cost of the Lead Appeaser is about 15% of the overall cost of preparing for, conducting, and successfully completing a typical CMMI Appraisal.

If you include the cost of transforming your company, improving operations, and continuously improving engineering performance, it's more like 1%!

The highest cost of conducting a CMMI Appraisal, excluding the aforementioned transformation, is internal.  Companies that "prepare" for appraisals spend weeks tracking down "evidence," coaching people, and making sure each "i" is dotted and each "t" is crossed.  Some companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars doing this - some spend millions!

Guess what?  Doing this kind of "preparing" for an appraisal should be free.

No, I'm serious.  FREE.  Think about it.

CMMI Appraisals are about verifying how you're already performing - not about verifying how good you are at "passing" an appraisal! So the easiest way to "prepare" for appraisals is to just behave that way to begin with!

I tell my clients "you focus on being a great company, I'll focus on completing a successful appraisal."

I also tell them, "it's easier to do it than it is to fake it" but I digress... maybe I tell them too many things!

If you have a consultant telling you they will prepare you to "pass" an appraisal it's time to find a NEW CMMI Consultant!

Think of it this way, if you're a great company, and you're using the CMMI as a guide to make you even greater, there is no coaching, no document searching, and no evidence to "create."  You already are using, and improving Configuration Management, so the evidence is simply the work you are already doing.  And people are trained, understand the expectations, and know how to get work done, so there is no coaching needed - nothing to it!

So put your budget towards the best CMMI Lead Appraiser out there, someone who can lead  you through the process without stress or drama.

And save a ton of cash while you're at it.

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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