Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How granular does our CMMI process documentation need to be?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser! Settle a bet for us. How granular does our CMMI process documentation need to be? ~ Francis and  Karl

Hey, Francis and Karl! CMMI is a set of best practices. It doesn’t say you NEED to do anything. It asks you to describe how you want people to behave in a way that will make your company great. That can’t be done with documents, forms and so-called “CMMI Certification,” so whichever one of you was betting that the CMMI does NOT require an immense amount of granular detail, you win the bet.

Unfortunately, we see a lot of losers at the wheel of organizational performance improvement. They put all their chips on getting a so-called “CMMI certificate” and hope to win a CMMI Maturity Level 2 or 3. They up the ante with all tons of detailed documentation of definitions of processes.

That’s not how the game is won. You don’t come out ahead by slavishly trying to control your people with mind-numbing, soul-crushing busy-work, such as filling out documents and forms. You’ll miss the whole point of why you’re doing this. Your goal should be to get value from your process – not just to “pass” an appraisal. If you just go for the plaque on the wall, your CMMI adoption will be a disaster.

I think you get my point. You don’t need tons of documents. Why create all that burdensome, expensive process debt? Go to the level of detail that is valuable to you - and no further! As I always tell my clients, engineers are smart people. They don’t need a step-by-step process, they need guidance. And as my clients always point out, engineers will always try to create one anyway!

True. But you don’t need that. All you need is a little guidance.

My advice is that you approach CMMI for what it really is – a toolset to solve strategic problems. You can use CMMI for guidance on caring about the right things to make your organization great. Along the way, you will create a set of documentation that describes how you want people to behave in your company, and it won’t be too granular.

That’s a safe bet.

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.

No comments: