Friday, January 4, 2013

13 Reasons Your CMMI Adoption Will Fail in 2013

Dear CMMI Appraiser – I appreciated your post about a “failure of imagination” being the biggest problem most companies face when adopting the CMMI for their software process improvement program. But now I fear there may be other common problems we don’t know about that will cause headaches this year if we don’t have the foresight to avoid them – please advise. ~ Cynthia S., Quality Assurance Manager

Dear Cynthia, fear not!  Unless you suffer from triskaidekaphobia (an irrational dread of the number 13), there is no need to fear the year ahead …

Instead, I encourage you to embrace this year as an opportunity to think about the CMMI as one of the tools that can help you change behaviors and establish the type of environment that can make you a great company.

But I don't want to minimize your concerns about potential pitfalls. In fact, there are many problems that companies commonly experience when adopting the CMMI, often because they have received misinformation from a so-called CMMI consultant from one of the "Appraisal Preparation" companies.

Here is a list of 13 reasons that your CMMI adoption will fail in 2013:
  1. You’ve bought a tool that promises “CMMI compliance in six months or less”
  2. You've hired a "CMMI Preparation" consultant who is helping you "create the evidence"
  3. No one has any idea why you’re “doing CMMI,” but you’re doing it anyway
  4. Two dozen consultants descend on your company to “do CMMI” to you
  5. Your boss keeping uttering the phrase “implementing CMMI”
  6. Your CMMI “consultant” says, “The CMMI makes you do it.”
  7. Your CMMI “consultant” says, “The CMMI Institute makes you do it.”
  8. Two minutes after achieving Level Two, your boss says, “When is Level Three?”
  9. Your boss says, “We need to go right to Level Five (or Four, or Three)
  10. Your boss tells your team to go “get a level” by Tuesday
  11. No one captures data about whether or not your team is benefiting from the CMMI
  12. You blindly follow your parent company’s binder full of processes (we've got "binders full of 'em!")
  13. No one believes that new behaviors can be learned 
Many organizations, in their rush to solve these problems, fall victim to them. They get so focused on "CMMI Certification," achieving CMMI Level 2 or CMMI Level 3, they set themselves up for failure.

To assure that 2013 is productive and profitable for you and your team, I encourage you to remember three things about the CMMI:
  1. The CMMI is a time-tested, industry-proven model for positive outcomes 
  2. The CMMI is a framework and set of guidelines for changing behaviors and changing culture 
  3. The CMMI allows you to do what you are already doing, better – in 2013 and beyond 
So go forward with confidence, Cynthia, and made the decision that 2013 will be a lucky year for your CMMI adoption.

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 engineering strategy, performance innovation , software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

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