Monday, May 6, 2013

How to adopt the CMMI without creating more overhead?

Dear CMMI Appraiser, we’re a mid-sized San Diego IT company, trying to grow, and we realized that in order to grow, we had to have standard procedures on how things needed to get done that would be easy to learn, follow and would be successful. We started by defining and adopting our own methodology. One year later, we are interested in graduating to the more rigorous CMMI model, but have some concerns. What is the best way to adopt the CMMI without dramatically increasing overhead? ~ Ned A.

Ned, welcome to the CMMI! It sounds as though your research has led you to conclude (correctly) that the CMMI is a process model that can help you improve upon the way you already do your work. I would expand this to say that the CMMI provides a clear definition of what an organization should do to promote behaviors that lead to improved performance. Those behaviors include eliminating what we call “Process Debt.”

What Is Process Debt?

Process Debt is our name for the unintentional consequence of trying to reach a CMMI Maturity Level without trying to be a great company. It can be an insidious problem for companies that don’t understand the real value of the CMMI. Instead of focusing on learning new behaviors that can transform the culture of their company, they take a documentation-focused approach. The result? Too many forms, meetings, reviews, and sign-offs. Quality audits are heavy-handed and there is much too much oversight. The resulting Process Debt crushes your engineers, damages creativity, and destroys any productivity gains you were hoping for.

How to Avoid Process Debt?

You can avoid Process Debt simply by understanding that the CMMI is about supercharging engineering performance, increasing productivity, reducing risk, and doing what you do, better. It is NOT about certificates, plaques, and ratings. It’s NOT a test you need to pass. And it’s NOT about creating more overhead.

Many newcomers to the CMMI don’t realize this at first. Often, someone has been pumping them full of misinformation. We see some CMMI consultants exhorting their teams to finish the projects and present documents with no real insight into how things are going or how they can be made better.

That’s a mistake. Rushing to create documents and processes to satisfy the CMMI Appraiser just adds to the Process Debt, making it even worse. Instead, you should be working to eliminate crushing Process Debt – and help you learn the behaviors that can put your company on the Path to Greatness.

OK – How Do You Do THAT?

To learn more about CMMI, I encourage you to take advantage of some of our upcoming CMMI training, webinar and eBook experiences:

May 28, 2013, in San Diego, CA, hosted by Epsilon Solutions.
Learn about CMMI, process models, and how to use them to be a great company!
Click here to register for: the Introduction to CMMI training in San Diego

CMMI: Everything you need to know! WEBINAR REPLAY
Learn the ins and outs of the CMMI, and how to ask yourself what I call “CMMI questions” as an engineering strategy for addressing common business problems such as late projects, over budget projects, unhappy customers, etc.
Click here to watch the “CMMI: Everything You Need to Know” Webinar Replay

How to Spell CMMI is an introduction CMMI for engineering and software professionals looking for ways to improve software delivery, achieve a CMMI “certificate” or rating, develop a strategic weapon that can help attract and retain new customers, or get on the path to becoming a great company. Click here to download How to Spell CMMI

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

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