Friday, June 22, 2012

Do CMMI Users actually get an ROI?

Welcome back to Ask the CMMI Appraiser for today’s installment of CMMI User Stories.

In an industry full of inquisitive problem-solvers, it was no surprise that the SEI’s announcement about the CMMI triggered so many requests for more information about how people are using the CMMI. After all, folks like you and me need data to help us evaluate where we are in our ongoing quest to become -- and remain -- great companies.

As you know if you are a regular visitor at Ask the CMMI Appraiser, over the past several days, we’ve been sharing excerpts from our brand new study of what CMMI users from 50 companies really think about the CMMI.

Today, we present the fourth question we asked CMMI users:

Did you experience an ROI?

As described in our last Ask the CMMI Appraiser post, adopting the CMMI requires time and effort. And while 90% of CMMI Users said it was worth it, the CMMI can be quite costly. How do CMMI Users feel about their return on Investment?

We learned from many CMMI Users that it can be difficult to ascertain an aggregate ROI, due to the wide degree of variability in products and services delivered by the adopters of CMMI. Even so, we wanted to understand the market’s perception of CMMI, and whether sponsors thought they had received an ROI (internally, we referred to this metric as the “cost factor”).

Over 40% said yes, they had seen an ROI; 40% said they had no idea; 15% said no and 3% said "no comment."

Among those who tracked ROI, most were positive. One respondent told us: “it was one of our most profitable divisions.”

What can we glean from this information? It’s interesting that the same percentage responded that they had received an ROI as those who did not know. This appears to reinforce what CMMI Appraisers and CMMI sponsors alike have suspected for years: that a direct correlation between cost and value of CMMI is difficult to establish. It’s much easier to draw a connection between companies that intend to use the CMMI to radically improve performance, and those that do not.

It’s also interesting to reflect on those who said “no comment.” Were they really in the “I don’t know” category, but unwilling to admit it?  Or were they concerned that they may appear to have sipped the kool-aid?

For more CMMI User Story analysis, check back soon 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.

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