Monday, June 18, 2012

Adopting the CMMI ... was it worth it?

Welcome back to Ask the CMMI Appraiser for today’s installment of CMMI User Stories.
As you know by now, in response to the SEI’s announcement about the CMMI, we decided to provide more information about the experiences CMMI users are having.  Below is an excerpt from our brand new study of what CMMI users from 50 companies really think about the CMMI.

The study consisted of calling CMMI users and asking them about their experiences with the CMMI, good and bad. Here’s our third question:

Was adopting the CMMI worth doing?

Why ask this question? Because, in the early years of the CMMI, the US Department of Defense (DoD) and other early adopters of CMMI, like Lockheed Martin, Rockwell Collins, Boeing and Air Force, were known for conducting top-down, document-heavy, “command and control" software projects. This reputation carried over as these same organizations embraced CMMI. As a result, many smaller, nimbler businesses thought that adopting the CMMI was not a "good fit" for them and was not worth it.

Since then, perception of the CMMI model has changed. The CMMI has evolved beyond the "oppressive interpretation."  A more flexible, agile approach to the model is becoming the new standard.

Despite this change, the CMMI is still time-consuming and resource-intensive to adopt (but well worth it).  Change like this can be disruptive to the organization.  And so we wanted to understand if sponsors thought the overall effort was worth it (internally, we referred to this metric as the “hassle factor.”)

90% said the CMMI effort was worth doing.

10% said the CMMI effort was not worth doing.

What can we take away from this response? Most companies did not experience the CMMI as being oppressive. It may have required a concerted effort to adopt the CMMI, but the vast majority of CMMI users said that adopting it was worthwhile.

Be sure to check back regularly as we share results of the CMMI User Story study right here on Ask the CMMI Appraiser.

We’ve also made the information available in an eBook. If you would like to receive the complete set of user stories all at once, simply subscribe at the top of this page to receive eBooks. Provided that you are using a valid company email address (not a Yahoo, AOL or Gmail account), we will be happy to add you to the distribution list, and send you the eBook, along with others, in coming weeks.

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.


Anonymous said...

I would be curious to see this metric further broken down by company size, CMMI level sought/obtained, and finally development methodology (waterfall, scrum, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Carolyn, thank you for your comment. The overall study includes the actual user stories that describe the company type, role of the person interviewed, and the industry. When we send the document to you that information will be included.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that some or many of the sponsors are biased? Some times managers don't want to admit failure, specially since they were the sponsors. I would trust a survey that actually asks people who worked for the company(excluding the sponsors)if CMMI was worth it.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible? Sure. That's why we asked more than one question. Any survey has the potential to be biased. That wasn't really the point of the survey though. In my experience, sponsors readily admit when they don't think something is "worth it."

When you say "I would trust a survey that...." does that mean you don't trust a survey that asks anything other than what you want to ask?

I had a number of people try to tear up the data on this - and I only have one question for them....what do your numbers tell you? They're all getting back to me on that . . .