Thursday, September 10, 2015

Why do a lot of people think CMMI and Agile don’t go together?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser: CMMI with Agile? A lot of people think they don’t go together. Tell me about that. ~ Geri Winters, Business Agility Conference

Dear Readers, on September 23-24, in Austin, Texas, I will deliver the Keynote Address at the Business Agility Conference. The organizer of the event, Geri Winters, founder and CTO for Wyyzzk, and a seasoned corporate technology and agile strategist, interviewed me for a webisode on Read a summary of a segment of our conversation below, or click to watch the whole interview. Enjoy! 

Hey, Geri. 

The more we use the CMMI, and the more we work with companies that are using the CMMI, the more we realize that this is a model that's about how great companies perform. But you are correct. There is a misperception about CMMI that it wouldn’t work well with agile.

We see it this way. CMMI is nothing more than a model for improving what you are ALREADY doing. There is no conflict between CMMI and any development framework or set of techniques like Scrum or XP. 

In fact, the CMMI and agile are more alike than they are different. Both were designed to solve business problems. Both came into being the same way, too.

In developing the Agile Manifesto, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland, Ron Jefferies and others sat around in a smoke teepee on top of a mountain – so the stories goes – and came up with a list of things that great companies do. The SEI was in more of a professional office setting when they came up with CMMI. But in both cases, smart people sat around, saying, “What do great companies do? What makes them successful?”

They came up with a list that says, great companies do all of this stuff. The CMMI list is very comprehensive, and the agile list is much broader, but not as deep. 

Several years ago, we brought them together by pioneering “agileCMMI,” an iterative and incremental method for designing and deploying process solutions. With agileCMMI, we helped organizations take a “Scrum-like” approach to understanding the CMMI framework, and apply it to whatever they were working on.

See, CMMI improves the teams that are using Scrum (or any other technique, for that matter) because, in the case of Scrum, you have a minimalist approach to developing products in an iterative and incremental way. But Scrum does not cover everything required to drive performance, organization-wide. Many such best-practices exist within the CMMI.

So whether their goals are to successfully deliver software, achieve a CMMI Maturity Level, or get on the path to becoming a great company, the agileCMMI approach helps organizations improve incrementally and in a lightweight, useful way.

Business owners and leaders can learn more about putting their companies on the path to greatness at the Business Agility Conference. I’m really looking forward to it!


Sign up for the Business Agility Conference in Austin, TX on September 23 and 24, 2015. Register now and take 15% off!

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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