Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Art of CMMI: Maneuvering

[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: Maneuvering."  We're excited that Shawn has agreed to share segments of his article with you here on "Ask the CMMI Appraiser"]

Continuing the ‘Art of CMMI’ discussion, let’s go on the offensive with the Art of War’s seventh chapter, ‘Maneuvering’.  The theme of the seventh chapter revolves around wisely marshaling one’s forces to out-maneuver various types of engagements.  But who are our ‘forces’? When we ‘do war’ on process debt and poor engineering will we fight as a cohesive force or a chaotic mob?  Sun Tzu observes:

Maneuvering with an army is advantageous; with an undisciplined multitude, most dangerous.

Fortunately, there are CMMI practices that assist us with composing our army of process warriors – as in OPD SP 1.7 – Establish Rules and Guidelines for Teams. 
Process teams often align with engineering disciplines such as ‘the requirements team’ or ‘the testing organization’.  But flexibility is required:

Whether to concentrate or to divide your troops, must be decided by circumstances.

Thus, teams may also be created to address specific hot issues dear to the program, such as ‘improving customer satisfaction’. Teams must be composed of individuals with the correct training who represent the entire organization.

So we don’t have an ‘undisciplined multitude’, rules must be established that govern responsibilities, clear lines of authority, and reporting – both within and between teams.  Elements to consider when founding and chartering teams include:

·       Specific mechanisms to approve, assign, accept, monitor, and review tasks
·       Organizational charts
·       Resource allocation
·       Measurements

—and certainly communication. While this would be amusing:

Gongs and drums, banners and flags, are means whereby the ears and eyes of the host may be focused on one particular point.

A Communication Plan would probably work better for us. Among many other things, the Communication Plan defines team intercommunication, organizational reporting chains, and specific communication methods.

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

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 engineering strategyperformance 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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