Friday, March 20, 2015

CMMI-TV: Are Scrum and CMMI at Cross-Purposes?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, are Scrum and CMMI at cross-purposes? I thought Scrum was essentially a free-for-all and CMMI is essentially about everybody doing the same thing. They're in conflict, right? ~ NY-SPIN Attendee

Dear Readers,

Today’s episode of CMMI-TV was filmed ON LOCATION at an NY-SPIN event in New York City, where I presented on “Agile Resiliency.” A participant asked if Scrum and CMMI were at cross-purposes. Below is a video clip with my answer, followed by a synopsis of my response. Enjoy!


There’s a misconception that exists in our industry. Organizations think Scrum is about one thing and CMMI is about another. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are both about the same thing


Scrum is not a free-for-all where agile teams do whatever they want, don’t write anything down, don’t follow any rules, and just write code. That’s not what it is.


Likewise, CMMI is not a death march that saps our powers and turns us all into zombies, forcing us all to do everything the same way.  That's not what CMMI is all about.


Both Scrum and CMMI have a marketing problem. Not a feature problem, a marketing problem, because they are both about the same thing. CMMI and Agile are both about solving business problems, including:

  • Late requirements
  • Misunderstood requirements
  • Late projects
  • Over budget
  • Defects in our software
  • In the dark about projects
  • Too many meetings

All of these things are problems that exist in every software project. There isn’t a software project on the planet that doesn’t suffer from every one of those problems.

I go to a lot of clients and do CMMI Appraisals, and at the end of 3-4 days of working with them, I say, “Ahem, your projects are little late sometimes, and your requirements aren’t clear …”

It's the same exact problems in every single software project. If you don’t have those problems, you are either not paying attention or you are telling a story. Every software project has these problems. The question is, how do we manage them?

Both agile and CMMI are there for solving problems.


Anyone interested in learning how to lead the transformation of your organization to Agile is invited to sign up for this month’s new Webinar in the "Everything You Need to Know" Series, “Agile Transformation.”


When: Thursday, March 26, 2015 at noon EDT
Cost: FREE!

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.

Visit for more information about running a successful CMMI and performance improvement program.

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