Sunday, June 3, 2012

What do companies THINK about the CMMI?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, now that the CMMI is moving to a new business unit within CMU, wouldn’t it be great if we knew what people really thought about using the CMMI? ~ a fellow CMMI Appraiser 

Hey, fellow CMMI Appraiser,

Yes, that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? A lot of people are keenly interested in the perception of the CMMI in the market today. Especially now that the SEI has announced that the CMMI constellations (as well as other "mature technologies") will no longer be considered "research" projects, and will be moved to a new business unit within Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

As I’ve said, I interpret this as a good … no, a great thing. The Department of Defense, long a sponsor of the SEI, was very involved (along with CMU) in the decision. The new business unit will be unencumbered by the constraints of the DoD, and will take the CMMI in new, more flexible directions, and to new markets.

And we can’t say no one saw this coming. For the past few years, at SEPG NA conferences, several of my fellow Lead Appraisers and I have been talking about the need for change in the market. We saw CMMI adoption increasing for large and small companies alike. We thought our clients were reaping tremendous rewards. But we had no idea what other CMMI users, those we didn't know, actually thought about using the tool.

In the months leading up to the SEI’s CMMI announcement, I decided to commission a User Story study. My company, Broadsword, selected 50 companies randomly from the SEI’s Published Appraisal Results (PARs). The companies had achieved CMMI Maturity Level 2 or 3 between 2007 and 2010.

The reason we chose this timeframe was to give the CMMI users some period of time with their adoption, allowing for more objectivity.

Next, we retained two call center representatives, who picked up the phone and started calling.

Over several days, we spoke with CEOs, VPs and Quality Assurance Managers of North American companies, large and small. Companies were in the aerospace, defense, finance, transportation, energy and manufacturing industries, and they were all using CMMI-DEV.

We listened to the stories they told about using the CMMI. We captured the data, and analyzed the results.

As far as we know, this is the first study of its kind that builds its case on anecdotal data from actual end users. We gathered stories about what’s working and what’s not working with the CMMI, directly from the users themselves.

I hope the timeliness of this information will prove valuable to you, whatever your role with the CMMI. It was finalized literally days before the SEI announcement.

And so I invite you 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 to reveive eBooks at the top of this page.  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 distibution 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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