Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How can we accelerate our CMMI adoption?

Dear CMMI Appraiser, our company provides BIM (Building Information Modeling) products and services. We hired a CMMI consultant to help us adopt the CMMI and be more productive and profitable, but there has been a lot of push-back from our project managers, QA folks and engineers. What can we do to speed up the changes we want to see? ~ Alan M.

Alan, accelerating change falls under the discipline known as Organizational Change Management (OCM), which is a specialty of Julie Calfin, Broadsword’s Director of Consulting. Julie does amazing work with companies that are undergoing large scale business transformation like yours. Take it away, Julie! ~ The CMMI Appraiser

Thank you, CMMI Appraiser!

Alan, to accelerate change, your CMMI consultant must provide training at strategic points in the program. As the diagram below depicts, training is the gear in your company’s Organizational Change Management strategy, and that makes the behavior change engine run.
Your CMMI consultant should know this. To overcome push-back, they should be staunchly defending the Generic Practices (GPs) in the CMMI, which are foundational to the success of any or all of the process you deploy. Specifically, they should insist upon Generic Practice (GP) 2.5 – Train People.

The fifth GP guides us to train the people performing or supporting the process.

So, if you expect (GP2.1) your Project Managers to be efficient at estimating and planning, you need to train them on estimating and planning.

If you are going to plan for (GP2.2) your QA folks to run process and product quality assurance, you need to train them on running process and product quality assurance.

If you are going to provide resources (GP2.3) for your BA teammates to trace requirements and run JAD workshops, you need to train them on performing requirement traceability and running JAD workshops.

And if you are going to assign responsibility (GP2.4) to your engineers to perform peer reviews, you need to train them to perform peer reviews.

Unfortunately, in many companies, training is considered to be a costly overhead expense that does not fit into today’s tight budgets . Engineers are trained by being thrown into the fire and learning on the job. They get put on a project and they learn as they go. Unfortunately, this training approach results in frustrated Engineers who are slow to accept change.

But GP2.5 requires different behaviors from executives. And most executives see the value of training people, once they see the numbers. Training increases productivity early in the tenure of someone’s employment. Where it takes an average engineer about a year to get up to speed in terms of productivity with peers, training helps them get up to speed in a matter of weeks. It also reduces the cost of Engineers’ time to reinvent the wheel and perform re-work.

Training helps all stakeholders understand the magnitude of change they are being asked to undertake. Training helps them learn the KSAs (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) that they need to be able to perform their roles in the new organization. And training helps them become their own advocates.

There are many training courses available in the marketplace, that are related to CMMI, Scrum, or general process improvement. Look for a CMMI training program that offers real life examples, lessons and proven techniques, so that your team can take away – and retain – valuable information to be used on the job, immediately.

Sounds like maybe your CMMI consultant could use some training too.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Julie Calfin is the Director of Consulting at Broadsword Solutions Corporation. She has years of real world experience using OCM strategy and tactics to help her clients achieve their goals. Julie also uses the CMMI, in partnership with her clients, to set-up, monitor, and sustain process improvement programs.

Visit for more information about running a successful CMMI program.


Unknown said...

This is just a sidenote, but I think it's unfortunate (and very very very odd) that the 'QA folks' are pushing back against CMMI. Quality Assurance professionals should be among the first insanely-hyper-enthusiastic 'early-adopters' of process improvement within an organization. This talks a bit to training, but proactive QA professionals should be keen on CMMI process improvements that enhance quality, mitigate bottlenecks, and increase efficiency.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree! Part of the problem could be that the CMMI is less about QUALITY, and more about PERFORMANCE. Quality professionals may not fully understand this, and if they do, don't know what to do about it.