Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Five Minutes with the CMMI Appraiser: What’s the best process improvement strategy you've used?

[Over the next several days, the CMMI Appraiser will be sharing snippets from a conversation with Bill Fox on 5 Minutes to Process Improvement Success™. Bill interviewed the CMMI Appraiser about how the CMMI can be used to create resiliency in agile methods. Here’s “An Iterative and Incremental Approach to Process Improvement with Jeff Dalton.”]

Hey, Jeff, I’d like to start by asking: What’s the best process improvement, strategy or tactic that has worked really well for you or your clients? ~ Bill Fox, 5 Minutes to PI Success

Hey, Bill.  The hardest part of process improvement is not telling clients what they should do—that’s not even part of what we do.  It's not writing a process for them.  It’s not even getting them to write a process and propose one and deploy it, although that is useful. The hardest part, and the thing that’s most impactful and what works most for us, is how you deploy process improvement to the community. In other words, how you get people to embrace it and use it.

CMMI, CMMI Appraiser, CMMI Consultant, CMMI Certification, CMMI Training, CMMI and Agile

The approach my company Broadsword Solutions uses has been very successful.  It is an iterative and incremental approach we call agileCMMI, our branded approach.

agileCMMI uses agile methods such as incremental delivery, continuous build, collaboration, etc. It applies the same techniques we use when writing software to deploy process and get people to embrace process.

Embracing the process is key to overall success.  After all, the best process in the world is useless if you can’t get people to actually embrace it and adopt it.  And until they embrace it and adopt it, you don’t even know if the process you developed is even useful. 

agileCMMI helps organizations embrace processes successfully.  agileCMMI is an incremental method where we deploy small components of the process in releases over time. For example, we might release two or three sub-processes and test it out, and then once the company has embraced those small, easy to digest, useful things, we’ll give them another set of small, digestible, useful things.

We plan it all out in advance.  You are getting appropriate pieces at the appropriate times. And the reason it works is that’s how we learn. We learn as human beings by digesting things in very small pieces. So when you look at so many process implementations that have failed, you see some commonalities.  Typically the company tried to throw a big binder or a big website at all their employees and said, “This is going to be your new process.”  They were trying to get them to eat an elephant in one bite.

agileCMMI goes about this differently.  We're not going to force you to do anything.  We’re giving people very small components to start working with.  We'll keep feeding them those small bites over time until they have their complete process suite and their process improvement architecture and their methodology and everything they need will be implemented.  Sometimes this will take months.

During that time, you get these things in small, right-sized pieces, so that you can understand them, can put them in context.  Then you can start to embrace them and use them successfully.  That's what agileCMMI is all about, and that's why I would say it is the best process strategy we've used.  It's how we learn. 

Today's five minutes with the CMMI Appraiser is up.  Please check back soon for the Second Question: What was the genesis of the agileCMMI methodology? 

And don’t miss our next "CMMI: On Location" professional development experience. The CMMI Appraiser is on location in Washington DC on the topic of agileResiliency and using CMMI to make agile stronger at AgileDC conference on October 23rd.

Click it for a ticket, and register here. 

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 www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

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