Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Are some practices in CMMI “more equal” than others?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – we are an Agile shop preparing for our first CMMI Appraisal. Is it true that some practices in the CMMI are more important than others? That sounds a little Orwellian to me. If it is true, how do we determine which practices to focus on? ~ Frederick L.

Frederick, good question.  Thanks for checking in.  For those who didn’t get the reference, in his allegorical novel, Animal Farm, George Orwell wrote, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Similarly in the CMMI, some practices are more important TO YOU than others.

So how do you know which practices to focus on? It depends on your particular context. Every company has its own set of priorities, which is one of the reasons that CMMI appraisals can be quite difficult. Context means everything.

Since you are an Agile shop, Frederick, Agile is part of your context. Presumably, you are going through a SCAMPI A appraisal because you want to benefit from adopting the architectural strengths of the CMMI, and make Agile stronger.  In that case you can benefit from the approach we call the “Agile Resilience Architecture.”

The Agile Resilience Architecture is contextual in nature. It keeps you focused on what's most important to your business and your process, and ultimately, your product

The Agile Resilience Architecture is made up of three tiers. Here’s how it works:

Tier One: Let Your VALUES Guide Your Work

As an Agile shop adopting CMMI, it is of primary importance that your company stays focused on your Agile values.  Think of those values as guiding your work. By linking everything back to your Agile values, you will be able to ask questions such as the following:

Does the process we’re going to adopt include things like failing fast, iterative and incremental ways of running the project, and collaboration between teams?

Does the process include using information radiators and all of these things that we know are true about all Agile methods?

Think of this level of the Agile Resilience Architecture as your foundation. Use it to be sure you are letting your values guide your work.

Tier Two: Use a METHOD or FRAMEWORK to Manage Your Work

The second tier of the Agile Resilience Architecture is the method or framework for managing the work of Scrum. The CMMI is an excellent task-management system that takes into consideration a way to sequence or prioritize things. Over time, it helps you transform your company culture, and manage the change.

As you complete your SCAMPI A, you will gain more familiarity with how the CMMI is a framework for transforming your company’s culture, and putting you on the path to greatness.

Tear Three: Employ TECHNIQUES to Do the Work

Tier Three of the Agile Resilience Architecture describes doing the work. This includes Planning Poker, Continuous Builds, Story Time, Backlog Grooming, Retrospectives, etc. Everything you do as an Agile shop, and the way you do your work, is part of your particular context.

So those are your three layers, Frederick. You’ve got your Agile values, your methods and your techniques.

My recommendation, as you are building this resiliency model, is to clearly separate the three tiers. Get a clear mental picture of each, and their position within the Agile Resilience Architecture. Without the guidance of the Agile Resilience Architecture, it becomes all too easy to lose sight of what’s most important.

So that’s why we say some practices in the CMMI are more important than others. Rather than looking for 346 practices to check-off, take a look at your Agile methodology through the perspective of the Three-Tiered Agile Resilience Architecture. Not only will you be able to focus clearly on your values, methods, techniques -- but you’ll be on your way to a highly rewarding journey of continuous improvement.

Watch this space for a replay of our recent Webinar presentation of "Agile Resiliency: Scaling Agile So That It Thrives & Survives."

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 www.broadswordsolutions.com 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.

No comments: