Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How does CMMI make Agile better?

Hey, CMMI appraiser, I saw your recent post about Planning Poker. We’re an agile shop, and I admit I don’t know CMMI very well at all. When you say we can use CMMI to make Planning Poker better, how does that work? Does CMMI state, ‘These are the people you need to do certain specific things?’ If so, how does CMMI make it better? ~ Dale E.

Hey, Dale, thanks for your question and welcome to the CMMI! I’ll answer your question below, but first I want to invite you to a webinar we’re hosting tomorrow (October 15th at noon EST) that is custom made for organizations like yours that are interested in ways to make agile better, stronger and more resilient with CMMI. Sign up here for “Everything You Need to Know: Agile Resiliency!

There are many ways that the guidance of the CMMI can help you. Within the Model are 12 characteristics of the process, called the Generic Practices. Think of these practices as the 12 things that need to be done.

One of the 12 things we need to do is, we need to figure out who the right people are, and make sure they are there. Another characteristics is, we need to make sure people are trained on how to use the tools and techniques we are asking them to use. So, if we have Scrum teams using Planning Poker, but we have never really given them good training how to make that work, that’s a problem that the CMMI will help us address.

Take a look at the Generic Practice 2.5 in CMMI. The fifth GP, as it is known, guides us to train the people performing or supporting the process. It encourages us to ask, “How are we training people?” We may look around and decide that we really aren’t! So then we know, using CMMI as our guide, that we need to conduct training classes.

Your organization might say, “Hey, we are already using Planning Poker, but we’re not getting the results we want. It’s not that accurate.” Next step is to ask, “Why isn’t working?” Then take a look at the 12 characteristics of your process for answers:
  • Oh, the right stake holders aren’t showing up! That’s one problem we’re having. Let’s fix that.
  • Oh, people aren’t trained! That’s another problem. Let’s fix that.
In this way, the CMMI is almost like a checklist. It guides us to consider, in this case, all the things about Planning Poker that we didn’t think about when we implemented it. Back then, maybe we just passed out the packs of cards and said, “Go read an article and start playing.”

CMMI can help make all of our agile processes better if we go through the 12 attributes, and use the Model as a checklist to help make the process better.

There’s a whole lot more where this came from, Dale. Sign up for “Agile Resiliency” on Thursday, October 15th at noon EST – and we’ll go into greater depth tomorrow!

Register for the free webinar here.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, ScrumMaster, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff pioneered agileCMMI, the leading methodology for incremental and iterative process improvement. He 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 engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

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