Friday, February 15, 2013

So your boss asked you to look into CMMI and Agile ...

Dear Readers, not long ago, I met a software engineer who said her boss asked her to look into “getting certified at CMMI ML3" while converting her development team to be "an agile shop,” because “that’s the way the industry is heading.” Clearly frustrated, she asked me, “What does that even look like?”

I tried to get her to a happier frame of mind. I said, “Imagine you have accomplished everything your boss is asking for. You’ve put your company on path to greatness by integrating the CMMI model and the agile methodology. Now you are ready for your CMMI SCAMPI appraisals and agile assessments, and you feel perfectly relaxed.”

As a CMMI Lead Appraiser, I love walking into this type of environment. You stand in the middle of the Scrum team room, and everywhere you look, you see evidence, including:
  • “Information radiators” all around, "radiating" information about 50+ practices from the CMMI
  • White boards covered with sticky notes, with risks identified, carefully prioritized ('what keeps you up at night') with their sources associated with them
  • Photographs and drawings
  • Comments in the code
  • Sketches that can be scanned, stored, retrieved, shared, and used to make other projects better 

That’s just a glimpse of what it looks like when a company has successfully integrated the agile methodology with the architectural strengths of the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). But one glimpse can tell a lot. While your CMMI Lead Appraiser will certainly dig much deeper, all signs point to productivity without a lot of chaos and headaches.

As I said to the woman at the conference, the cool part is, agile and the CMMI are not only compatible,  they are essential together!  They're both intended to do the same thing, which is to help solve business problems. Having an agileCMMI infrastructure guides and supports your team to learn new behaviors, which can establish a flexible and resilient environment for building good software.

So that’s the big picture. That’s what agileCMMI looks like. It’s all about helping companies scale and thrive.

Anyone interested in learning more about getting CMMI and agile to work together is invited to attend one of our presentations on the East Coast next month:  

March 6, 2013 @ DC SPIN – Agile Resiliency: How CMMI Enables Agile to Thrive and Survive (RSVP for DC SPIN by sending an email to 

March 19, 2013 @ Boston SPIN – Agile Resiliency: Using CMMI to Make Agile Stronger for the Next Century (No RSVP is necessary)

And yes, tell your bosses! They are invited.

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.

To download eBooks about CMMI, visit Jeff’s Author Page on Amazon.

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