Sunday, March 9, 2014

What’s Your Biggest Software Development Challenge?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser. What is the biggest challenge you see today in software development? – Steve M.

Your question is timely, Steve.

We talked about Software Development challenges at a recent Embedded Software panel discussion. As expected, ideas ranged from lack of time to lack of communications about requirements. Other issues included technology, skills, training and funding. While they are all important, I think there is an even bigger challenge: Values.

Whether it's Boeing, NASA, Lockheed Martin, Ford and GM, the problem always comes down to values.

Corporate Values? Okay, stop rolling your eyes!

Corporate Values typically talk about Service, Honesty, Excellence and Respect. The problem with Corporate Values like these is that they are never really implemented. 

In order for values to be useful, they have to be about actionable behaviors. They have to be operational. They have to say: “Here is how we want our people to behave.” 

In software, you can trace customer’s needs to business requirements, technical requirements, and to code and test cases.

We also need BEHAVIORAL traceability. If we make values operational, we can trace them from training, to skills, to tools, to code, to requirements, and to everything we deliver.

Operational Values are things we all agree to. Is it harder? Absolutely. It’s way harder. Simpler? Way simpler. But, it’s worth the effort. 

By the way, I am speaking on "Values-based Engineering" at the GL-SPIN meeting in Rochester, MI on March 13. I’ll be expanding on some of the ideas we just covered. Join us if you can!

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

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 innovationsoftware process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

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