Monday, March 26, 2012

SPaMCast Question #7: Where else does agileCMMI work?

[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, We have other constellations within the CMMI, things like Services and Acquisition. Are they equally, to coin a term, “agilable” as the Development model? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast 

Absolutely, Tom. One of the things that I try to get my clients’ heads around – whether we’re doing a CMMI appraisal, CMMI consulting or CMMI trainings – is that a 'process' is about how you do work and how you do business. In CMMI trainings, I use a quick visual for this. I say, “I have a new way of spelling ‘process’.” And then I hold up the word “engineering,” spelled phonetically, like this:


My point is, how we perform our tasks is what a process is. It’s not this thing above us that gives us overhead and makes us do extra work. Done properly, process is “underhead,” not overhead.

With regard to other constellations within the CMMI, my company, Broadsword, used to be focused exclusively on engineering with the CMMI. Back then, it was just CMMI-Dev. But we had a client approach us and say, “Hey, we need some help with our sales and marketing organization. Do you think this agileCMMI approach can work there?”

We told them we thought we could make it work. So we changed the words and infrastructure a bit, and applied common sense to their challenges. As it turned out, agileCMMI worked really well. Since then, we’ve been doing this with HR organizations, State Government agencies, more sales and marketing, transportation, logistics and procurement – all using this method.

Our impact within businesses expanded even more last year, when we started working with clients who wanted to adopt other process models, like ISO 9001 or SPICE or ISO 15504, ISO 20000. They said, “Can this method work for these models?” We said, “Of course it can.”

The reason it works is because what you are building is a product. That product is the process you use to do your work. Furthermore, that product has work products and training and tools and techniques associated with it, just like any software product does. So there is no reason you can’t apply both the agileCMMI method and the CMMI in general and Scrum or other agile methods to any kind of work that you do.

The words change. The infrastructures change. But the one constant with adopting the agileCMMI approach, regardless of constellation or model, is the ability to take what you are already doing, and make it better.

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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