Friday, March 23, 2012

SPaMCast Question #6: Do you use agile to implement CMMI?

[NOTE: Over the past several days, the CMMI Appraiser has been sharing snippets from a recent conversation with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast about how the CMMI is fully compatible with Scrum, and can be used to improve agile methods, making the investment in agile both powerful and productive. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 176.]

Jeff, do you actually use an agile approach to implementing the CMMI? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast 

Tom, yes, we sure do.... sort of.  CMMI isn't really something you "implement," it's more a framework for improving whatever it is you need to do.  But we DO use agile methods to design and deploy the processes and behaviors that a great company needs, and in that way we are "implementing CMMI."  It begins with helping our clients use an agile approach to understand the CMMI framework. We do this with the “AgileCMMI” methodology that we pioneered. AgileCMMI is an iterative and incremental method for designing and deploying process solutions. We describe AgileCMMI as a “Scrum-like” approach because we developed it years ago, before I knew much about Scrum. Since becoming a Scrum Master, I am even better able to leverage the powerful synergies between the two.

AgileCMMI allows us to take a “best-of-both-worlds” approach to everything we do, from CMMI appraisals to CMMI consulting  to CMMI training.

For example, one of our CMMI trainings, the Scrum+CMMI Learning Experience, is based on a set of User Stories that include content about Scrum and CMMI, Scrum Elements, Scrum Artifacts, Storytime, Sprint Planning, Sprint Reviews (Demos), Retrospectives, Agile Estimating, CMMI Practices, Institutionalizing Scrum . . . and more.

As another example, we use the constructs of Daily Stand-ups to help Scrum shops embrace the CMMI while getting more value out of the Daily Stand-up, making it even stronger than it already was.

A third example: we put together Scrum Teams (we call special interest groups, or SIGs) to help companies accelerate performance by embracing the CMMI as an improvement mechanism.

That’s the great thing about CMMI. It can (and should) be used to improve the teams that are using Scrum (or any other technique). Scrum is a minimalist approach to developing products in an iterative and incremental way, but it does not cover everything required to drive performance, organization-wide. Many such best-practices exist within the CMMI.

So whether their goals are to successfully deliver software, achieve a CMMI Maturity Level, or get on the path to becoming a great company, our clients use the AgileCMMI approach to improve incrementally and in a lightweight, useful way, and reach their goals. AgileCMMI helps them get better at what they are already doing.

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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