Friday, May 10, 2013

We got our CMMI Level – NOW what?

Hey CMMI Appraiser – we got our CMMI Level. I’m proud of our Appraisal Team, but now what do we do? ~ Loa P, IT executive 

Hey Loa,

Congratulations! I hope by “getting CMMI Level” you mean you precisely determined the strengths and weaknesses of your engineering or software organization - and you're using that today to make yourself better!  aIf you learned to use CMMI that way – as one of the tools you can use to accelerate performance while making the team more agile, stable, and valuable – then, way to go, team! You should be jumping for joy!

Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way after achieving a CMMI Capability Rating. The adoption of CMMI carries with it many complex emotions. Some software and engineering executives feel strongly that they want organizational performance improvement. Sometimes they covet "CMMI certification" – or both. Sometime, they  don’t know WHAT they have.

One of the things that I try to get my clients’ heads around – whether we’re guiding them through a CMMI appraisal, CMMI consulting or CMMI training – is that a 'process' is simply about how you do work and how you do business.

So you did your process improvement planning and designed your process. But all the while you were gathering evidence during your SCAMPI A, you were actually working toward something of far greater value than achieving your Maturity Level 3. You were validating a new system that will drive your company from process improvement to performance innovation.

And now you want to know what to do next? How about improving performance with the processes that you’ve built? It’s the next frontier. It’s time to operationalize your strategy for continuous improvement. It’s time to operate the infrastructure you’ve developed.

Now, I say this to some pretty smart engineers sometimes, and they have no idea I’m talking about. “What infrastructure?” they’ll say. “I didn’t know we were building an infrastructure. I thought we were just filling out forms!”

Others get it. They understand that CMMI is about much more than filling out forms; it’s about creating a system of systems. It’s about architecture and integration points between processes.

No matter where you are at this point, Loa, I encourage you to look beyond CMMI. Achieving a Maturity Level was merely a tactical objective. Now you are learning to operate like a great company. That’s a strategic initiative of far greater import. It calls for a higher awareness of the architecture (the model we designed) and the infrastructure (the physical instantiation of that model) in which you have invested.

In a nutshell, what you’ve done is build a multi-faceted organizational infrastructure that is at once a process infrastructure and a performance infrastructure. You’ve built this infrastructure in part because you were trying to achieve a CMMI Level – and if you worked with Broadsword, we helped you build it with an agileCMMI approach – but what we really helped you build is an architecture with which to run your business. You can take that and run – far beyond CMMI.

Going beyond CMMI is a passion of ours here at Ask the CMMI Appraiser. I have more to share on this topic. Please check back soon.

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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