Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How fast can we get a CMMI certification?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, we’ve got some chronically unhappy customers who are looking at other vendors who are CMMI certified. My boss needs to know how fast we can get a CMMI certification so we can demonstrate our commitment to process improvement planning. What can I tell him? ~ Paul V.

Hey, Paul, hang with me a second here. I’m going to help you get the information you’re looking for. But first, here’s what you can tell your boss:

You can’t EVER get a “CMMI Certification” because there’s no such thing!

Now, your boss isn’t the first to use the phrase “CMMI certification.” It's pretty common in the industry vernacular.  But the folks that govern the CMMI would prefer that we use words like “achieve a rating” or “achieve a Maturity Level” when referring to the desire to be sufficiently equipped with the infrastructure and tools that you need to become a great company, using the CMMI for guidance.

That’s more than just a shift in terminology, Paul; it's a shift in mindset. The reason to go through the investment, time and energy of adopting the CMMI is because you want to transform behaviors and become a great company. If you put a “certification” mindset around that, you’re going to drive all the wrong behaviors.

So your boss is asking you to look for a quicker way to reach the company’s goals. Your competitors have achieved a CMMI Maturity Level, and your clients want proof of your commitment to continuous process and performance improvement.

The first step is to find a CMMI consultant who understands that so-called “CMMI Certification” or achieving a CMMI Maturity Level should NOT be your goal. Unfortunately, that’s the focus of many "appraisal mill" type companies. They see no value in providing advice, strategy, and helping to ensure that you get the results you were hoping for. They just want to sell you the appraisal.

This CMMI Appraiser believes it’s far more useful to you to work someone who helps you understand culture, helps you communicate vision, and helps you learn how to be a great company. That way, when the timing is right, your company will achieve a rating. But this is a path that goes beyond mere discussions about CMMI certification.

I recommend that you look for the following traits in a CMMI Appraiser:

  • Knows that your real goal is to learn about your company and how to make it better – not achieving a level or certification;
  • Teaches you to start to think like a great company, from the first conversation;
  • Helps you set the right goals and objectives, and asks the right questions that keep you on the path to continuous improvement.

When your boss sits down with this kind of CMMI Appraiser, he will come to understand that the CMMI is far too valuable and useful to focus on so-called CMMI Certification. It’s not about racing to the finish line. It’s about things like how well you are running your engineering division, how well you are delivering products, and how happy your customers are.

And by the way, in case you were wondering ... yes, there really can be such a thing as happy customers.

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

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, ScrumMaster, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff pioneered agileCMMI, the leading methodology for incremental and iterative process improvement. He 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 eBooks about CMMI, visit Jeff’s Author Page on Amazon.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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