Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Art of CMMI: Energy

[Our good friend Shawn Rapjack, CMMI expert and seasoned consultant, is back with a another installation on CMMI based on Sun Tzu's "The Art of War: Energy."  We're excited that Shawn has agreed to share segments of his article with you here on "Ask the CMMI Appraiser"]

CMMI, CMMI Training, CMMI Level 2, CMMI Level 3, CMMI Certification, Software Process Improvement

Continuing our ‘Art of CMMI’ discussion, let’s leap into the Art of War’s fifth chapter, ‘Energy,' where direct and indirect methods of warfare are discussed.  This ‘warfare’ concept translates to our CMMI software process improvement and appraisal preparation discussions.

In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.

What does this mean for us?  

During a CMMI appraisal, appraisers review several kinds of evidence – ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’.  even though the new version of SCAMPI (v1.3) not longer specifically tasks us with capturing these two evidence types, in practice they still are important to understand.  

Direct evidence demonstrates adherence to a CMMI practice (its immediate products or outcomes).  Indirect evidence, though de-emphasized in CMMI v1.3, is no-less important!  Indirect evidence supports the direct artifacts – without it, an organization’s processes are incomplete.  For example, the Program Management Plan is a direct artifact substantiating many practices throughout the CMMI.  

Indirect evidence supporting the PMP includes its review schedule, document history, etc.
Let’s focus on the importance of indirect artifacts - and how they ‘secure victory’.  

Experienced, helpful appraisers look at how an organization actually produces artifacts, i.e., they focus on the underlying processes.  Creating a PMP is great! – But how did it come to be?  Was it written overnight?  Was its production anticipated?  Is it a logical, helpful document with stakeholder input?  Does the document evolve to meet organizational needs?  Indirect artifacts address these questions; they are a microcosm of your organization’s process approach and tell a story of how things get done.
Are indirect artifacts difficult to produce or hard to come by?  Nope!

Indirect tactics, efficiently applied, are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth, unending as the flow of rivers and streams; like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew; like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more.

The direct and the indirect lead on to each other in turn. It is like moving in a circle—you never come to an end. Who can exhaust the possibilities of their combination?

Indirect artifacts are natural byproducts of your daily processes.  There is a calendar event to review the PMP, right?  Include it as evidence!  There’s a sign-in sheet for stakeholder review?  Include it as evidence!  The PMP has a page documenting its history? Include it as evidence! 

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

Don't miss our CMMI Training class coming up in Virginia February 11-14, 2013
Introduction to CMMI-DEV v1.3.  Register at

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead AppraiserCertified 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 and performance improvement program.

No comments: