Bob, let’s not get tripped up over the word “generic” here. It’s easy to do, and not uncommon. For this very reason, for many years, I have been insisting that as better name for the Generic Practice (GPs) would “Most Important Practices” because of how very important they are to your success. So just between you and me, let’s call them Most Important (not generic) and I’ll explain how to customize them with questions specific to the unique way YOU do business below.
The "Generic Practices" Aren't Generic!
First, Bob, you’ll need to accept the basic truth about CMMI. The CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration), is a model that helps us build better software and run better projects.
The most important part of the CMMI is the GPs, which we have agreed to call Most Important Practices. The Most Important Practices apply to all process areas in the CMMI – which is why they are so important.
Regardless of what type of method, technique or process that you use, the Most Important Practices can really help jump start the success of those practices. You can apply the Most Important Practices to activities that the organization performs. You don’t necessarily apply the Most Important Practices to your individual projects.
Starting to get the picture? Maybe it would help to give you some examples. Here are a sampling of Most Important Practices provided by the CMMI (there are 12 in all), along with several relevant questions that the Most Important Practice is guiding you to ask:
MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: SET EXPECTATIONS
- How long are our Sprints?
- What kind of retrospectives do we have?
- What kind of code reviews should we run?
- Should we comment our code, and how should we comment it?
MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: PLAN
- How many Sprints are we going to have?
- How many phases are we going to have?
- How many releases are we going to have?
- What kind of requirements management tools are we going to use?
MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: ASSIGN RESPONSIBILITY
- Who is going to be involved?
- When are they going to be involved?
MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: PROVIDE TRAINING
- Are we providing training? For example, if I’m going to ask you to do Planning Poker and use it as a way to estimate the size of a project or a particular user story, do I plan to train you on how to use those tools?
MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: MONITOR THE HEALTH OF THE PROCESS
- How is the process working?
- Are we getting value out of our sprints, phases and the tools that we are using, out of the techniques that we are employing?
- If we aren’t getting value, why not? And if not, let’s make them better!
- Are people actually using these processes?
- If they aren’t, why not?
MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: MAKE SURE MANAGEMENT CARES ABOUT THE RIGHT THINGS
- Is management paying attention to all of this data?
- Are they doing something about it to make the company an even better company?
MOST IMPORTANT PRACTICE: CONSTANTLY IMPROVE
- Are we constantly improving the processes?
As I said, Bob, there are 12 Most Important Practices. Not one of them is "generic" when applied to your specific business goals. This sampling of Most Important Practices will get you started in your understanding that CMMI is not about documents, forms or compliance. Nor is CMMI a “one-size-fits-all” proposition. Adopting the CMMI is 100% about solving the business problems that are specific to your company. The more we use it, and the more we work with organizations that are using the CMMI, the more we realize that this is a model that's about how great companies perform – each according to its own uniqueness.
For more information about the Most Important Practices and other ways the CMMI helps you get better at what you are ALREADY doing, be sure to sign up for our Webinar on February 26 @ noon: “CMMI – Everything You Need to Know!”
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.