Friday, October 12, 2018

Why CMMI 2.0?

Jeff, There is a new CMMI in town. What's that all about? Why CMMI 2.0? ~ Tom Cagley, SPaMCast

[Editor's Note: Over the coming weeks, this CMMI Appraiser will be sharing excerpts from a recent conversation with Tom Cagley on the Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCast) about CMMI V2.0, and how to begin transitioning to and using the new Model upgrade. Listen to the full interview at SPaMCast 512.]

Tom, as you know, the CMMI was developed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI) as is a process improvement framework for software and engineering systems, and is currently administered and positioned more as a performance improvement framework by the CMMI Institute. The model is utilized by organizations large and small across the globe to improve capabilities and performance, but there hadn't been an upgrade to CMMI since 2010. Change was overdue.

When the CMMI Institute was spun off by the SCI and Carnegie Mellon into a standalone entity, now owned by ISACA, they were handed an existing product. The challenge was that few people from the Software Engineering Institute made the switch over to the new organization, and so, for a long time, they were really just keeping up in operations mode. They moved over some of the QA folks who looked at appraisals, along with a couple of the technical staff folks, only one of whom remains.

The product they were handed was CMMI v1.3. Everybody in the industry knew that version 1.3 had issues, despite being the defacto standard among the federal government contractors. For starters, it was very academic-focused. I always joke with my classes that v1.3 reads like it was written by 20 PhDs and 25 attorneys.

I believe there was an honest effort to try to make it more clear. But I think what they ended up doing was making it harder to read in the end. It's a particular flaw that has always gotten in the way of more general acceptance.

Another challenge has been that the appraisal method of version 1.3 was pretty heavy duty. As a result, lot of company owners and directors weren't excited about doing CMMI. They wanted to get that accreditation or “CMMI certification” as they called it (the accurate terms is to achieve a "rating"), but found it very difficult.

So not only was the wording ambiguous in many of the 356 practices in Maturity Level 3, but it also was an appraisal method that demanded a very high documentary evidence standard. Every one of those 356 practices required an artifact of some sort. You could have an artifact that spread across many practices, but on the whole appraisals were an exercise in collecting, categorizing and scoring mostly artifacts, and then adding some affirmations or verbal statements towards the end.

This was considered a very heavy, expensive time consuming effort. Companies were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars – sometimes less, sometimes more – in order to achieve that rating, and much of that cost was the appraisal.

So, between somewhat ambiguously worded practices and the way they were architected in the model, and the way the appraisal method was conducted, there was cause for the industry to scream out and say: “Hey, the federal government is going to keep demanding this. This is too much for us and too expensive. We need a better solution.” And that was the driver for change.

Fortunately, the CMMI Institute is blessed by a truly visionary leader, Kirk Botula, for whom I have a great deal of respect. Not only is Kirk a musician, and a fine musician at that, but he has also got a really good eye for the industry, having run a software company prior to joining the Institute. He brought a real industry-focused, consumer-focused view to the CMMI Institute that never existed in the SCI, in my opinion.

The changes started slowly. The industry was slow to react to Kirk’s new kind of approach. They were a little shell-shocked, I think, when they were asked to find out what their customers really wanted. Kirk was masterful at pulling together focus groups. He's traveled the world talking to people, and did a lot of industry research to find out what is it that people want. Then the Institute enlisted the help of partners, lead appraisers, and instructors -- and everyone they could talk to who did this for a living – and got them all to come together and help create this new product. The result was version 2.0.

There was a lot of talk about, “Should this be version 1.4?” Kirk was very clear in saying: No, it shouldn't be. It should be something totally new, totally different. The team worked hard on it, and released a version 2.0 just a couple of months ago.

As of yet, no appraisals have been conducted, but the very first public training class was done a couple of weeks ago and I was fortunate enough to teach that first class. I got to be the first one to stand up and talk about the new model and what was great about it, and honestly, some things that weren't as good as I had hoped. The class went swimmingly, and it really looks like CMMI V2.0 is going to be a game-changer in the industry.

If folks are interested getting training on all of the changes in the new model, we are hosting another CMMI 2.0 class in February. Feel free to learn more about “CMMI V2.0 Training! – Plus Optional Agile/CMMI Integration Workshop” on April 1-5, 2019.

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I hope my readers have enjoyed this segment of my interview with Tom Cagley on SPaMCast #512. We'll be talking more about the changes in the new upgrade, CMMI V2.0, in the next segment. Please check back soon.

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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