Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Are we THERE yet? When will CMMI make us more productive and profitable?

Dear CMMI Appraiser, our application development firm has recently been acquired by a leading IT provider that has achieved CMMI ML3 in Boston. The new boss keeps touting CMMI as this tool that is there to help us be more productive and profitable. But so far our agile teams aren’t buying it, and I don’t know what to tell them. Would CMMI training help? ~ Samuel H.

Samuel, it sounds like your new boss has the right attitude about CMMI. The goal of any organization adopting the CMMI should be to drive performance improvement and behavioral change. So, yes, CMMI training would help. But there’s something that can help you even more, and that’s a comprehensive understanding of the Generic Practices (GPs) in the CMMI. Without the GPs guiding the transformation of the newly formed organization, it’s like driving blindfolded. You are far more likely to have a wreck than get where you want to go.

The good news is, the GPs take away the blinders. There are twelve GPs to guide you, and each is useful to you as you go about changing the culture of your organization without disrupting the business.

In this post, I’ll limit the discussion to five of them. Since you asked about CMMI training, let’s start with GP 2.5.

The CMMI anticipates that people performing or supporting the process need to be trained in order to be successful. That’s what the fifth Generic Practice (GP 2.5) guides us to do – Train People.

You’ll find, as you expand your understanding of the Model, that there are multiple interdependencies among the GPs, particularly with regard to training. For example, let’s say one of the changes you want to see is that your Project Managers are efficient at estimating and planning. Starting with the first Generic Practice (GP 2.1), which guides us to set expectations, you are encouraged to tell your Project Managers that you expect them to be efficient at estimating and planning, and that you will provide training on estimating and planning.

Here’s another example. The change you want to see is for your QA folks to run process and product quality assurance. The second Generic Practice (GP 2.2) guides us to plan, so, if you are going to plan for this change, you need to provide training for your QA folks on running process and product quality assurance.

The third Generic Practice (GP 2.3) guides us to provide resources. If you are going to provide resources for your BA teammates to trace requirements and run JAD workshops, you need to offer training for them on performing requirement traceability and running JAD workshops.

The fourth GP (GP 2.4) is about assigning responsibility. If you are going to assign responsibility to your engineers to perform peer reviews, you need to provide training for them to perform peer reviews.

Are you starting to see the light? Training is integral to success. But without a solid understanding of the GPs, you might not have a clue just how important training is. You might mistakenly think (as many companies do) that training is a costly overhead expense that does not fit into your tight budget. You might even assume (and we know what happens when we ASSUME!) that it’s OK to train your engineers by throwing them into the fire and asking them to learn on the job.

Is that how training currently happens at your company? Then it’s no wonder that you haven’t been more productive and profitable. When you train people by fire, you end up with burned out, frustrated engineers who are slow to accept change.

The CMMI guides you to take a better approach. CMMI training increases productivity early in the tenure of a person’s employment. Where it takes an average engineer about a year to get up to speed in terms of productivity with peers, training helps them get up to speed in a matter of weeks.

CMMI training also reduces the cost of your people’s time, eliminating their need to reinvent the wheel and perform rework.

Let’s recap. CMMI training saves money, time and speeds your overall performance improvement efforts. These outcomes ought to help them buy into the program, wouldn’t you say?

There are many CMMI training courses available in the marketplace. I always encourage folks to look for a class that offers real life examples, lessons and proven techniques, so that your team can take away – and retain – valuable information to be used on the job, immediately.

If that's what you're looking for, here's a class that may be perfect for you:  I am conducting Introduction to CMMI-DEV training on Wednesday, February 11 through Friday, February 13, 2015 in at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan,

Click here to register for Introduction to CMMI-DEV training.

Also, you may want to check out the training courses offered by the CMMI Institute.

Good luck!

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.

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