Saturday, March 26, 2011

What is the value of a CMMI ML3 Rating?

Dear Appraiser,

I just found you from a web search.  Can you provide some information?

At a high level I am trying to discuss the opportunities that will open up to a company that has a CMMI Level 3 rating. Can you give me any basic numbers?  i.e., a company that has a CMMI L3 can bid on $1B worth of contracts that are only open to ML3 rated companies.

Great question!  But if you're looking for a dollar value, I'm afraid the answer is "it depends."  There are billions in contracts in play where CMMI plays a role - all over the world.

In terms of value, there are so many factors that it's impossible to say "your productivity will increase 50%" or "you'll make 30% more profit."  Although you will see substantial gains, if done right, your company's individual situation is the driving factor in "how much" productivity gain you would see.  Also, the reason WHY you do it will have a major impact.  More on that later.

There have been many attempts over the years to quantify the value of CMMI and most of the efforts have come up short in terms of data quality (IMHO).  I was just in an SEI meeting the other day on this very subject!

If I asked 3 clients to tell me the difference between a "defect," a "fault," and a "flaw" I would get nine different answers.  If they collected "defect" data, it would all mean  different things.  You can imagine the affect aggregating it would have - it would be misleading (that hasn't stopped some from publishing some very authoritative metrics over the years….but that's another story!).  Worse yet, someone might ACTUALLY do something based on the data!  Yikes!

I can tell you that there is a LARGE amount of business in both the federal/state government sector AND the commercial sector that request that you have a CMMI rating to bid and maintain a contract.  And many more that consider a CMMI rating positively in their scoring system for contract award.  This opportunity is many times the annual revenue of even the largest service company – so can best be described as "huge."  For instance, many of the automotive companies require CMMI ML3 to bid on electronics, software, and engineering business.  Many states are starting to get on board as well.

But there are better reasons to adopt the CMMI.

The reason these organizations want you to be CMMI ML3 is because, if you do it correctly, you will experience much better quality, increased productivity, less project delays, you'll be on-time and on-budget more often, and your workforce will be happier and more productive.  This goes for agile, waterfall, V-Model, RUP, or any other types of methods or life-cycle you use.  

You may note that I've stressed "if done right," or "do it correctly" a couple of times.  CMMI can put your company on the path to greatness, but there are many (too many!) examples of companies that did it just to 'get the certificate" and missed the point entirely.  They may get the paper, but they don't get the value.

Your choice!

Your best bet would be to engage with someone who really knows the facts (an SEI Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser) and to spend the day with them so you can fully understand what you're getting in to.

oh, I happen to be one of those!  haha.

Good luck!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I hear that Lead Appraisers have to attended SEPG to keep their certification. Is this really true?

Dear Appraiser,

I heard the the SEI is requiring all Lead Appraiser to attend two SEPG's every three years in order to maintain their LA Certification.  This is incredible!   My company will never pay for all of that! What can be done to change this insane requirement?

The one thing I LOVE about this business is how fast the rumors fly! And they're not just juicy rumors. You know, the kind that happen after-hours down in the mail room.  They're the evil kind and usually someone created them to win some business or to get a free trip to Portland!

Once I met a CMMI Instructor candidate who told his employer that "The SEI requires me to go to every international site to teach this class."  He cashed in his business-class ticket for two coach seats and he and his wife travelled the world!  Whooo hoooo!  Another time I did an appraisal where their LAST Appraiser told them the SEI said "the appraisal team all had to wear matching shirts!"  This is a true story  (and why he was their LAST appraiser!).

As a matter of fact, I make my living being the "second" appraiser.  Think about THAT one.....

Last time I looked, the SEI wasn't very fashion conscious (you can't even buy their shirts anymore), nor were they travel agents.  They are also, sadly for some, not trying to force you to Portland (although I bet they would love for you to come).

The cool thing is that when I hear these rumors I can almost always trace them (I almost said "REQM SP1.4 them....") back to some evil person who is trying to manipulate someone else by using what I call the "SEI Hammer."  This is the same hammer that is used to tell a company that every sub-practice must be fully implemented (so you buy more consulting time), that you need templates for everything (so you buy the consultant's templates) and that every member of your company must take the CMMI class (so you pay instructor fees).

Don't get me wrong, consulting, templates, and training can be a good thing - sometimes a VERY good thing. But nothing is automatic.  And if someone says "The SEI makes you do this" then, you should be asking some serious questions.  95% percent of time it's hogwash (that's nonsense" for all our non-english speakers....).

On the subject of certification renewal, Jeff Welch and the folks at the SEI have done a pretty good job (along with feedback from the Partner Advisory Board and other members of the community) of coming up with a broad range of options for eligibility.  This is all brand new, so some of it could change.

In order to maintain your LA certification there will be a "Point System" where 5 points is the magic number.  You will receive between .05 and 1 point for attending SEI training classes, leading an appraisal, conducting a CMMI class or some other "SEI" activity.  There are maximum point accumulations in each category.  You will also receive .05 points for attending outside training classes, workshops, conferences (bingo!), for participating in a SCAMPI A/B Appraisal, and for being on an SEI working group, the PAB, or other committee.  There will also be points for writing books, articles, or presenting papers.  Heck, maybe I can get a point for writing this blog!  Hmmmmm.....Mr. Welch?

Details of this plan will be available this month from the SEI..... so stay tuned.

So, while I would love it if they would make me come to SEPG every year (since I go anyway) to maintain my certification, it just isn't so!

But I DID hear that the SEI is making me live at the beach year-around . . . . . can I send them the bill?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Our Picks for SEPG 2011!

SEPG 2011 will be here in two weeks!  It's the world's greatest gathering of professionals interested in engineering process improvement and CMMI so you don't want to miss it.  There will be dozens of excellent speakers on many topics, so whatever you choose you'll have fun, learn a lot, and leave Portland smarter about CMMI than before you came.

Here are our "picks" for this year's conference.  My list is merely the topics I am interested in, not a judgement of "goodness."  They are all good!


The Do's and "Don'ts of Process Improvement with Pat O'Toole.
- Pat is a very experienced SEPG Presenter and always pleases his audience.  He manages to be BOTH funny and informative at the same time (I hear he chews gum at the same time too!).

CMMI v1.3 and Architecture with Mike Konrad ("the wild-man") and Lawrence Jones. These guys always put on a good show - not to be missed!


The Agile SCAMPI: Taming the Savage Beast with Jeff Dalton
- OK, you caught me.  Come see me, even if it's for the hats, t-shirts, and other great swag you might win.  Oh, and I'll also be talking about how to make SCAMPI Appraisals bearable too.

Using Organizational Objectives to Guide you Process Improvement Program with Steve Masters
- Steve is a terrific presenter and this is an important topic.  The right objectives are the key to a successful program, and Steve is the guy to deliver it.  Disclaimer: I also think Steve is a really cool guy who knows his stuff.

Planning SCAMPI v1.3 Appraisals with Alexander Stall and Will Hays
- If your going to be conducting a CMMI v1.3 Appraisal, you need to hear what these two very smart guys have to say.  Will literally "wrote the book."  Actually, I think he's written multiple books.

Culture and Process Capability, the Secret Sauce with Hillel Glazer (aka "the reverend") and George Zack.  The #1 enabler of process capability is culture - I don't know George, but Hillel always puts an a good show!  Be prepared for some serious knowledge!

Gala Reception Tuesday night.  Don't miss this, it's a blast!


Who Cares?  So What? PPQA that Adds Business Value, not Overhead with Heather Oppenheimer and Christie Jensen
- A subject near to my heart, and with a great speaker!  I don't know Christie, but Heather is TOPS!

How to Sell Process Improvement with Molly Levy
- An excellent and important topic for anyone needing to push CMMI "upstairs."

Broadsword Client User Group and Appreciation Dinner Wednesday night.  If you're a client, or have been in one of our many classes, let us know you're going to be in town and we'll send you a personal invitation!


CMMI in Social-Media (for the Social Media Challenged!) with Bill Smith ((the world's only "CMMI Entertainer!").

Bill always puts on a great show and you'll learn a few things along the way too.  This is one speaker I never miss!  But watch out for the flying monkeys!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly . . . . the Process that is with Sabahat Khan and Rahul Bhalerao.
Real life examples?  Always better than theory.  And Sabahat is a cool guy and one exciting speaker!

Well, those are our picks for SEPG 2011.  See you in Portland!