Wednesday, October 25, 2017

CMMI SCAMPI: where do we start?

Hey, CMMI Appraiser, 

One of our government customers has been urging us for years to adopt CMMI and do a SCAMPI A Appraisal.  Well, I’m not proud to say we have been putting it off. But now two other customers are saying we have to do this if we want to keep their business. OK, so, we’re ready! Where do we start? ~ Ryan S.

Ryan, one place to start would be to thank your customers for pushing you to be a great company. It sounds like they are trying to get you to do the things you’ve known you should do anyway. I suppose it's human nature to put up resistance at first. I notice the same dynamic with my personal fitness trainer – except your customer is paying you!

The personal trainer is a pretty good analogy. In many ways, the journey to adopting the CMMI is similar to the journey to becoming physically fit. Companies that choose to work with Broadsword go through a detailed progression on their way to CMMI Maturity Level 3, for instance, and put themselves on the path to becoming a great company.

There's an old adage that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. To keep you moving in the right direction, here are the first five steps:

Step 1: Class C Appraisal (Gap Analysis) is first and foremost a way for your company to find out about itself and how your performance aligns with the CMMI model. It’s also an opportunity for your CMMI Appraiser to learn as much about your company as they can, and for your company to learn about the CMMI Appraiser. This is important because you will be spending a lot of time together, generally a year or two, making decisions that will have an serious impact on the behaviors of your people. And so, helping both sides feel more comfortable with each other is one of the most beneficial aspects of the SCAMPI C.

Step 2: Training – There are a number of training courses that need to take place on your journey to CMMI ML3. First is the Introduction to CMMI training course, followed by training on how to become expert process engineers. We teach you how to execute our AgileCMMI methodology, and how to design and develop processes. Your entire appraisal team goes through the training, plus anyone who plays a key leadership role in the company in terms of how they want the work performed, such as project managers, program leaders and line managers.

Step 3: Tune-up – After the Class C, and often concurrently with the training, we will provide you with a plan that identifies all the tuning up or development of processes that must occur in your company. The plan includes everything you need to do in the context of AgileCMMI, the Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to be created, as well as all of the releases and iterations that must take place between now and your SCAMPI B Appraisal.

Step 4: SCAMPI B – After you’ve done the training and the tune up, you are ready for the SCAMPI B Appraisal. The SCAMPI B is an formal appraisal that serves as a tool to give you the information you need to completely understand your current state in relation to the CMMI. It gives you the information you need to determine whether you will succeed in the formal SCAMPI A, as planned.

Step 5: SCAMPI A –After you’ve satisfactorily completed your SCAMPI B, you are ready for a formal SCAMPI A appraisal, and you’ll want do all you can to assure a positive result. If your SCAMPI A is successful, congratulations!

But don’t make the mistake of thinking you've arrived, and can just drop everything you’ve learned. To return to the fitness metaphor, once I’ve achieved my target weight, I don’t want to celebrate by eating a gooey chunk of chocolate cake. Getting in shape and becoming a CMMI Maturity Level 3 doesn’t make you a great company. It just means you are sufficiently equipped with the infrastructure and tools you need to become a great company. Whether or not you make the changes in your company – and make the commitment to long-term health as an organization – is up to you.

If you would like gain a deeper understanding of CMMI, we’ve just announced the dates for our next "Intro to CMMI-DEV" class (February 6-8, 2018), which includes an optional 1-day CMMI-SVC supplement. for CMMI-DEV (February 9, 2018). Join us in the Washington, DC area for a practical, fun, fast-paced and interactive classroom experience! Sign up 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 training classes 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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