Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Does CMMI require our small company to hire a lot of consultants?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser – we would like to get ahead of the industry trend of customers asking their suppliers to adopt CMMI.  But how can we accomplish this as a small start-up?  With a lean staff of 10 engineers, we can’t afford to hire a lot of CMMI consultants. ~ Amit J.

Hey, Amit,

There are a lot of myths that are blocking the road to success for emerging or “extra-small” companies under 25 people, like yours.  One of those myths causes small companies to say, “CMMI is too expensive.  We can’t afford to have three consultants on the ground five days a week to write all these process and untangle the CMMI for us.”

Now it's time to ask yourself: Is CMMI really THAT tangled?  OR is that just what you have been told?

It’s no wonder that this misinformation has transmitted to you, Amit.  An entire industry has evolved, especially in Washington, DC, around this requirement for CMMI.  There are lots of helpful CMMI consultants out there who want to help you achieved a level of CMMI.  You probably spoke to some of them.

Yes, some companies hire full-time, five-days-a-week consultants to “do CMMI to them,” complete with travel expenses every week.  But there are a couple of problems with that.

First of all, it shouldn’t take consultants helping you five days a week to understand what’s in the CMMI or to define what it is that you already do.  Also, no one should “do” CMMI “to” you.  Here’s what they should do instead:

  • A good CMMI Consultant will help you
  • A good CMMI Consultant will interpret some things for you
  • A good CMMI Consultant will help you structure a program
  • A good CMMI Consultant will coach you.  
  • A good CMMI Consultant will review some things sometimes.  
  • A good CMMI Consultant will give you some formats for how to define and document your processes.  
  • A good CMMI Consultant will offer you all kinds of fantastic help with change management and strategy and other things.  
  • A good CMMI Consultant will provide a lot of value.  

But there are two things a good CMMI Consultant WON’T do:

  • They WON’T tell you what it is that you do already
  • They WON’T write it down for you.  

Those are things that only you can do, because you are the doing the work on a daily basis.
Innovative firms, especially the small companies, are using virtual tools a lot more.  Their good CMMI Consultants are spending their time teaching you how to do it, instead of doing it for you.

For example, in my business, we consider it a success when our customers know how to do it themselves and they don’t need us there anymore. We like to spend less time, not more time, by using some of these virtual tools, including programs like CMMIxs that are completely online and virtual using Adobe Connect, virtual white-boarding and self-service and configuration management online and accelerator tools and all these things that can make it easier for you while you are doing it yourself.

No consultant can “give” you CMMI.  They can’t promise you Level 2 or Level 3 by a certain date.  The reason for that is it is entirely up to you.  As a Certified Lead Appraiser, I can give you advice, documents, encourage you, control you, train you, and try to get you to do the things that are right, but in the end, it’s your business.  CMMI is entirely up to you.

Consultants can help, but they can’t do it for you. So the myth that the CMMI requires you to hire a lot of consultants is just wrong for you.  Don’t believe it.  There are alternatives to hiring consultants to “do” the CMMI to you.  Only a minimal consulting presence is required.

For more information about overcoming the myths that are blocking your CMMI success and getting ahead of the trends, check out the new webinar in our “Everything You Need to Know” Series: “CMMI for Extra-Small Companies!”  The 30-minute presentation airs on April 29th, 2015 @ noon EDT.  Join us, won’t you?

Sign up for the Webinar here!

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.

Companies larger than 25 people are invited to visit for more information about engineering strategy,performance innovation , software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

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