Friday, March 15, 2013

Where can I find resources to help me use CMMI and Agile?

Dear Appraiser,

When we read the CMMI it doesn't appear to support the use of Agile.  But on your blog you talk about it all the time.  Where can I find more information?  ~Tyra


You're right!  The CMMI does not read like an "agile friendly" model.  In fact, it's methodology agnostic, and doesn't read like ANY methodology  (although if it "leans" one way or the other, it's towards the "waterfall" world).  

The other wrinkle is that, unlike agile, it doesn't speak directly to values - although they are embedded throughout the model more than you might think.

The trick to making this all work is to understand the INTENT of the practices, goals, and process areas, instead of reading it literally and trying to "comply" with what is written.

In my talk on "Agile Resiliency" (which I'm giving at the Boston SPIN next week), I discuss turning the CMMI into a set of questions, instead of a set of statements.  "HOW do we estimate the scope of the project?" instead of "Establish a WBS to estimate the scope of the project."  If you do it with story points and planning poker, that's OK!

For example, a "Work Breakdown Structure," used for estimating the scope of the project in the CMMI ("PP SP1.1"), is intended to scope out the project size, along with all of it's major components.  In an agile world, a product backlog, set of epics, and maybe a product plan ALSO do these things.  So, if they're done well, they will meet the INTENT of the CMMI, if not the literal words in the book.

For more information check out some of the many posts on this blog about Agile and CMMI.  You can also check out:

Cutter IT Journal article on Scrum and CMMI that I wrote (free download):

SEI Technical Report I co-wrote for the SEI on CMMI and Agile  (free download):

My eBooks on Amazon:

Hillel Glazer's excellent blog:

Good luck!

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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.

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