Friday, December 28, 2012

If we buy a CMMI Level 5 company, are we Level 5?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, if we acquire a company that’s ML5, that makes us ML5, right? ~ 5PI Meetup Attendee

Today’s episode of CMMI-TV was filmed at a recent "5 Minutes to Process Improvement Success" (5PI) Meet-up in Virginia, where this CMMI Appraiser presented on “Agile Resiliency.” An attendee asked if acquiring an ML5 company would make them an ML5 company. Below is a video clip with my answer, followed by a synopsis of my response. Enjoy!


When one company that is not ML5 acquires a company that is ML5, it creates a culture mashup that does not automatically elevate the new organization to ML5. If you think about Maturity Levels of companies like the maturity levels of children of different ages, you see why it won’t work.


A single dad with a 3 year-old son marries a single woman with a 12 year-old son. The dad says, “This is really cool, now my 3 year-old is transformed to a 12 year-old! And he will be able to clean his room as well as the 12-year old.”

It’s not going to happen. The older child can teach the younger child do to things a lot faster and better than he would have been able to do them on his own, and he may even have some processes that the younger one can use. But the two are are different levels of proficiency, with skills and abilities that are mashed and mismatched.


This CMMI Appraiser is currently working with the US subsidiary of a German company. The CEO recently told me, “Our parent company in Germany is just going to send us a binder. It has all the processes in it. We’re just going to start using it. Can we schedule our appraisal?”

"uhhh... I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

It just doesn’t work. You are different. You are a different kind of business, with different cultures, and those processes don’t necessarily translate.

It is not a good assumption to think that you would be ML5 if you acquired a company that was ML5.  And that's putting it gently.

ABOUT CMMI-TV: CMMI-TV is a place where we can add value to the engineering and software development community by offering advice on engineering strategy, performance innovation and software process improvement. If you find this useful, please 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.

No comments: