Wednesday, July 27, 2011

When can we advertise that we have achieved CMMI Certification?

Dear Jeff,

Our company just went through the CMMI Certification process and achieved Maturity Level Three.  Our Lead Appraiser said we have to wait before we can announce our CMMI Certification for at least a month. What the heck?  Why can't we announce it now?  ~Paul


hmmm . . . . you can never announce that you have achieved "CMMI Certification!"  Why?  Because "CMMI Certification" doesn't exist!  That's right. All that hard work and "poof!" no certification.  Sounds like a real bummer!

What you can say is that you have been "Appraised at CMMI Maturity Level Three" or that you have "achieved CMMI ML3."

The reason you have to wait +- 30 days to announce the results is that the SEI is busy trying to uncover defects and problems with the appraisal results - and this is more about Lead Appraiser performance than it is about your performance.  Once they have "ok'd" the results, you can go ahead and announce it.

The longest I have ever waited for approval is 27 days.  So they're pretty much right on target.

The CMMI has no provision for a certification, and the SEI doesn't certify companies.  They do, however, certify SCAMPI Lead Appraisers and CMMI Instructors (yours truly is both of these).

As a matter of fact, there are a number of things you "can't do" related to announcing your appraisal results.  This is from the SEI's recently released guideline on this subject:

Do not announce your appraisal result
before it has been accepted by the SEI.

Do not name Carnegie Mellon University
as your appraiser.

If your appraisal covers only a subgroup
within your organization, do not
announce that your entire organization
was appraised.

Do not use the following words to refer
to your appraisal: certified, certification,
accredited, or accreditation.

And be prepared for 50 lashes with a wet-noodle if you violate these rules! More likely you'll get a friendly call from SEI Legal asking you to change your behavior.....

You can read the entire document here

So, don't forget: no "CMMI Certification" and wait until the SEI has approved it!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, Candidate SCAMPI Appraiser Observer, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations.  Jeff has taught thousands of students and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Learn more about CMMI Training at

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thoughts on the Certified Scrum Master Class from a CMMI Guy.

Dear Readers,

I just put myself and my whole CMMI consulting team through the "Certified Scrum Master" class. We've been using Scrum for some time in our work with CMMI, but I wanted my team (me included) to take the formal class, taught with great skill by Chris Simms and Jeff McKenna of the Agile Learning Labs.

I've read all the press about this certification not being worth the paper it's written on, that it's a crime to call someone a "Master" after taking one course, and so on. My experience with the class tells me it was well worth the effort. I learned a lot in this class - and most of it wasn't about Scrum at all - it was about getting work done in an effecive manner through team collaboration, and THAT's the good stuff!

We took the course not for the "certification" but for the excellent content and the team dynamics discussions that Chris is so good at. I thought the class was excellent - a good basic grounding in Scrum, and some great hands-on exercises with some philosophy rolled in for good measure.

Chris is a deep thinker who knows how to get a message across better than most.

I'm not sure what all the hoopla about the course name is about. Isn't "Scrum Master" an actual title in Scrum? And doesn't this class teach you the basics so you can begin to act like one? And isn't one of the purposes of Agile to be collaborative, involve everyone, and rise all the boats around you? So, why all this infighting in the Agile community about it?

Is the NAME really the source of all this angst? Talk about WORRYING ABOUT THE WRONG THINGS!

I wouldn't have chosen the name "Scrum Master" myself, but I didn't make the hard effort to create Scrum, so what I think isn't important. I also would not have chosen XP or any of the other "cool" names related to Agile development - that's just me (I'm an old fart that still thinks Computer Science and business are important). But that's not really the point is it? Those ARE the names. If you take a class that teachers you how to be a Scrum Master, than that's what the class should be called. If it was "Scrum Facilitator" (a little more accurate IMHO) would everyone be happier?

The "Certified" part kind of makes me wonder - but again, so what? I know TONS of people that badmouth the course but have never taken it, can't describe Scrum with any accuracy, yet they feel free to spout off their disapproval.  These are the same people that talk about "CMMI Certification."  They're obsessed with the certification part . . . talk about useless overhead!

So I'm not too focused on the exam, but I am geeked to apply some of the things Chris taught us - as a matter of fact I borrowed some of his wisdom the very next day while teaching my own CMMI class!

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I'm convinced now more than ever that Scrum+CMMI = FTW!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, Candidate SCAMPI Appraiser Observer, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations.  Jeff has taught thousands of students and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Learn more about CMMI Training at

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Who performs data collection and characterization on a SCAMPI Appraisal?

Dear Appraiser, 

A while back, we attended one of your CMMI trainings that dealt with determining our data collection strategy for a SCAMPI appraisal.  You basically said that it was up to us to collect and begin characterizing our own data.  However, we find this very time consuming and difficult.  Can you do a CMMI training about how we get someone to do the data collection for us?  ~ Tyree N.

Hey, Tyree,

I could, but I won’t. :).  I would never use my CMMI training sessions to teach you how to cheat yourself out of becoming a great, continually improving company.

I’d rather see you master the data collection process and make it your own.

This starts with understanding that a lot has changed since your last CMMI training.  For one thing, the new SCAMPI v1.3 release changes the options related to when the data will be collected.  The time of data collection is determined by what type of appraisal you are conducting, managed discovery, verification or discovery.   

Here is the break-down:

  1. Discovery
In the Discovery appraisal, the data is only collected when the Lead Appraiser arrives.  Discovery appraisals are the preferred method of Lead Appraisers who, in my opinion, need more CMMI training on the true purpose of data collection.  Discovery appraisals often seem to end in disaster. 

  1. Verification
In the Verification appraisal, you will collect the data, without the help of a Lead Appraiser, before the Lead Appraiser gets there.  Better,  but disaster can lurk for many reasons.

  1. Managed discovery
In the Managed discovery appraisal, you will collect the data, with guidance provided by the Lead Appraiser before I get there, and I will help you by facilitating discussions where you can learn new things of lasting value about yourselves as a company, and where you want to be.

Don’t be alarmed if this all sounds new.  I admit, this approach is not typical ... yet.  I've always conducted appraisals using the "managed discovery" approach - even though it was only recently introduced in SCAMPI v1.3.  

Companies are always surprised when I say to them, “OK, for the next month, you guys are going to collect and characterize some of the data.”
They say, “We’re going to score our own data?” 
And I say, “Yes, did you think I was going to do all of it for you?”

To be more exact, we're going to do a lot of it together.

The point is, Tyree, you’re supposed participate in it because it's about YOU!  This is about you and your company, and making your company better.  You are the one who needs to learn about it collect and analyze data.  I already know how.  Having me characterize your data alone doesn’t help you at all.

Level-seekers think the only reason to collect data is to get the artifacts to complete the appraisals.

Try to remember why you are doing this, guys.  There’s only one reason.  To make yourself better.

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, Candidate SCAMPI Appraiser Observer, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations.  Jeff has taught thousands of students and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Learn more about CMMI Training at

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What the heck happened to Focus and Non-Focus projects in SCAMPI v1.3?

Jeff, I’m a CMMI Appraiser in New Jersey, a relatively new CMMI Appraiser, actually, so I appreciate the information you have been sharing in this blog about the meaning behind the changes to the SCAMPI model.  I would like to add a question.  When they simplified the terminology by removing the terms ‘focus project’ and ‘non-focus project’ in V1.3, what impact does that have on CMMI Appraisers like me?  ~Plato B.

Wow!  Two questions in a row from fellow Lead Appraisers.  Sure, I'd be happy to answer this one.  The impact of this particular terminology change is significant, and affects all CMMI Appraisers, from new to experienced.  Before explaining how, let’s take a moment to define the terms "focus project" and "non-focus project."

As you know, for each maturity level of the CMMI, there are process areas associated with that level.  To assess these process areas, projects were selected to be focused upon (‘focus projects’).   ‘Non-focus projects,’ or extra projects, were also selected as a way to get extra information to help gather more data and to verify the institutionalization of the process.

For example, let’s say a company had 100 projects.  A subset of 25 projects might have been selected to be appraised: twenty focus projects and five non-focus projects.  Because focus projects had to satisfy 100% of the applicable goals in the CMMI model for that level, and because they had to show evidence for all of the associated practices, we would do a deep dive on all 20 focus projects.

Non-focus projects didn’t require a deep dive that included all of the process areas.  With the five non-focus projects, we would pick and choose what process areas we wanted to look at.  In one, we might have looked at how good they were at planning and estimating.  In another, we might have looked at how strong they were at Verification.  Basically we were selecting process areas throughout the organization, and were looking for examples to verify that, yes, in all of these other projects, the projects were consistently meeting the intent of CMMI.

So what changed when the SEI removed the terms from this version of the SCAMPI method?

The simple answer is the sampling methodology changed.  The sampling strategy is beyond the scope of this post (I have blogged about this subject recently), but the big difference regarding focus and non-focus projects is that they no longer exist, and instead we are now required to create a data collection plan based on an algorithm provided by the SEI.  The plan will take an “inside out” view, requiring us to identify the source of evidence for various process areas by identifying which project we are going to look at for that particular piece of data. It’s more complex than that, but you get the picture.  

The new sampling methodology creates an additional planning effort, making preparation for the appraisal more difficult.   It will also be more difficult for companies to cherry-pick the projects that are going to be appraised, broadening the selection of available projects and increasing the credibility of the appraisal and of the CMMI in general.  All good stuff!

We understand why the SEI did this – in fact, we strongly support it.  The new sampling methodology makes appraisals more consistent and helps deter companies who are interested in gaming the system.  But let’s not kid ourselves about the impact of the change.  By simplifying the terminology, the SEI has radically modified the sampling strategy.  The preparation for the appraisal will require more effort and experience, which will increase the amount of time and effort it takes to conduct an appraisal.
Welcome to the ever-changing life of a CMMI Appraiser, Plato.  No one said the path would be easy!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, Candidate SCAMPI Appraiser Observer, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations.  Jeff has taught thousands of students and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Learn more about CMMI Appraisers at

What's with the new "Data Collection Strategy" in SCAMPI v1.3

Dear Appraiser, 

I appreciate your take on the rule changes in the new SCAMPI release [v1.3].  I admit, as a Lead Appraiser, a lot of this has me baffled.  For example, the new requirement that Lead Appraisers have to define a data collection strategy.  I don’t know about anybody else, but I've always thought about how to collect the data.  Are we supposed to do something different? ~ Charles T.

Hey, Charles,

I don't get too many questions from fellow Lead Appraisers (although some should ask more . . . ).

You’re right.  For the best Lead Appraisers, this "new activity" outlined in SCAMPI v. 1.3 isn’t new at all.  If you care about helping companies get better, not just on getting a CMMI level, you'll have a data collection strategy that serves your client in the most useful way.

The difference?  Now there is a formal deliverable associated with it.  And formal deliverables are reviewed, audited, and managed.  The data collection strategy outlines the overall scheme for data collection, declaring more explicitly than ever before how we are going to capture data. 

The creation of this deliverable isn't a mere paper exercise.  It helps us think through the strategy with our clients, and supports the latest (more complex) sampling requirements in SCAMPI v1.3.

If you were not doing this already, this will represent a fairly significant impact on how appraisals are conducted.  The preparation for the appraisal has become more robust, which will increase the amount of skill, time and effort it takes the Lead Appraiser to conduct an appraisal.  It will also become increasingly more difficult for "appraisal mills" to operate on the edges - pimping our 25 or more "successful" appraisals per year.  And this is a good thing!  

Proper appraisal planning takes weeks, if not months.  And that's the way it should be.  Appraisals are not only complex, with many moving parts, but they can impact a business in profound ways.  We don't skimp on this!

The specific changes around data collection strategy include:

  • The choice of data collection approach (discovery, managed discovery and/or verification)
  • When the data will be collected (e.g. preparation phase or conduct phase)
  • What data collection techniques (e.g. demonstrations, presentations, interviews and questionnaires) will be employed for both objective evidence types (artifacts and affirmations)
  • A detailed definition of what data will be collected and from what sources or events
  • The organization responsible for collecting the data
I've been addressing data collection issues in my last few posts, and will do more in the future.  But for now, a lot of folks are asking why the rules have been made so explicit.  I believe the philosophy driving the change is appropriate and think it's about time the SEI has addressed it.

The SEI does not want Lead Appraisers to perform appraisals that have not been appropriately planned and prepared for.  They want appraisals to be useful and professionals - and I'm right there with them on this.  This might be bad news for professional level-seekers, but it's a good thing for our industry.

Don’t take it personally, Charles.  They weren’t thinking of excellent Lead Appraisers like you when they made this rule.  The best Lead Appraisers have been planning and re-planning all along, because we want to see the client win.  Most of us care more about that than so-called "CMMI Certification."

As General Eisenhower famously said during World War II: “No battle was ever won without a plan, and no battle ever went according to plan.”  Good advice for any appraisal.

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, Candidate SCAMPI Appraiser Observer, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations.  Jeff has taught thousands of students and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Do I need CMMI Training to understand the requirements for data sources for appraisals?

Dear Appraiser, I have attended your CMMI trainings … do we need more CMMI training before we can employ proper data collection techniques?  ~ Jorge

Jorge, to pick up the thread of my earlier post,  SCAMPI v. 1.3 tells us we are required to articulate what your data collection strategy is going to be.  The strategy needs to include your specifying the data sources. Here's a bit of a primer.

The data sources can include the following:

  1. Presentations
This is one of the techniques, in CMMI training, that I teach in my classes to employ at the start of an appraisal.   By using this technique you learn from having each in-scope project give a presentation to the team about their project.  They provide a thumbnail sketch about who they are, what they do, how big they are, what the financials are, what the schedule is, what methods they are using, etc.  They will give a data dump to the appraisal team so that they can have some context about what the project is supposed to be about.

  1. Demonstrations
My CMMI training classes and webinars ( gives you tips for collecting data from demonstrations.  For example, if we ask them, “What are you using to store your documents?” they will answer, “we’re using Webex and this SharePoint tool,” or, “we’re just doing it on our network drive.”  Whatever the case, I might say, “OK.  Show me.”  Then they give me a demonstration of that tool, and that would satisfy the requirement of getting the affirmative evidence from this data source.  By the way, printing out the menu page of a tool as evidence is something people often do for evidence - - - kind of a waste of time.  Just SHOW ME!

Why did the the SEI spell all of this out?  Short answer: because people sometimes lack imagination.  Sometimes they read ‘affirmations,’ and say, “Oh, an affirmation is an interview.”  So they make their people memorize processes and policies so that they can talk about them in the interview.  Or, even worse, they do a screen print of the login screen of their document repository and present it as an artifact.  I say, “Don’t go crazy with this.  Just boot it up and show it to me.”  uh oh..... they're in trouble now!

  1. Structured interviews:
These include customized questions that are scripted and get asked during the interview.  The questions are created specifically for each appraisal based on everything I have learned about you - so don't bring in your LA at the last minute!  Our CMMI training cover these concepts, as well as …

  1. Questionnaires: predesigned questions that are scripted and get asked via a survey.
How do these techniques affect you and your company?  Lead Appraisers will specify in advance how we are going to collect the data, put it in writing, and get your agreement.  Again, like most of these supposedly new ways of conducting appraisals, good Lead Appraisers were already doing this.  We were saying something like the following:

 “Here’s exactly how we’re going to collect the data.  You need to prepare your projects to present to the team.  You need to prepare your systems to be demonstrated to us on the first day.”

That approach works when you were dealing with qualified Lead Appraisers.  Unfortunately, some (too many!) don't have any of this figured out.  They show up for the appraisal without sufficient planning and it  quickly turns into a goat rodeo.  Oh yea....these are the cheap ones.

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, Candidate SCAMPI Appraiser Observer, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations.  Jeff has taught thousands of students and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Learn more about CMMI Training at

Saturday, July 16, 2011

CMMI Training in TROY, MI November 2-4, 2011!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Data collection for appraisals seems so onerous. I don't think our consultant knows what he's doing!

Dear Appraiser, 

I’m not sure that the CMMI consultant we’ve been working with really understands what our data collection approach needs to be  - especially with the new release of SCAMPI v1.3.  He says the appraiser just shows up and looks for documents and he refuses to prepare us in any way.  Can you shed some light on what’s changed? ~ Arnold C.

Arnold, thanks for your note.  It’s not uncommon to hear that a "consultant" is confused!  

Data collection for appraisals is an area of specialization, and a Lead Appraiser can really help you out and save you a lot of misery.   That’s partly why I’ve decided to address several of the rule changes in the new release of in SCAMPI in my latest blog posts.  Since you have a specific need, today we’ll look at the various data collection strategies.  Data collection is a complicated subject, and well beyond anything that will fit in one blog post.  But stay tuned!

Today we'll focus on the three different types of data collection strategies identified by SCAMPI and available to Lead Appraisers.  The options (or "modes") are:

  • Discovery
  • Verification 
  • Managed discovery
The v1.3 terminology changes associated with each option represent a fairly significant impact on how appraisals are conducted.  Let’s look at them separately:

  1. Discovery
Think of discovery appraisals like the discovery phase in legal proceedings.  The Lead Appraiser does not participate in any preliminary collection or analysis, but simply shows up for your appraisal onsite (the last part of the appraisal), and data discovery begins at that point (and you'd better hope you're ready!)  Needless to say, Discovery appraisals, while very popular with level-seekers (and Lead Appraisers that want to appear omnipotent) they very often do not lead to useful results.  More often they lead to an extremely stressful appraisal with late nights and lots of heated debate and bruised egos.  In the early days of CMMI, this is how most appraisals were conducted.  Not my first choice.

  1. Verification
At the opposite end of the spectrum are verification appraisals.  Verification appraisals are about getting the team to identify all the work product/artifacts in advance.  When the Lead Appraiser shows up, he or she verifies that you have selected the correct data (or not).  In my opinion, this model has always been superior to discovery because it required you, the appraised organization, to learn about yourselves over time, in an iterative and incremental way, leading to greater introspection and great value.   The verification approach gave you a lot of opportunities to solve problems, which meets the spirit of the CMMI much more closely than the Discovery appraisal, which for all intents and purposes is perceived as an audit.

"Back in the day" prior to SCAMPI v1.3, Discovery and Verification appraisals were our only choices.  But neither really felt right to me.  I felt we needed something more.  Since we were allowed to tailor I starting performing "Verification with a twist" appraisals, and turned them into my particular speciality.  It didn't meet the definition of Verification Appraisal exactly . . . .until ,like magic, a third option appeared which closely matched what we already were doing (I love those change requests!)  

  1. Managed Discovery
Managed discovery is a new category in the model.  It’s a hybrid of discovery and verification.
Actually, managed discovery is just a terminology change for the method I was already using to conduct Verification Appraisals.  It’s how many of the best Lead Appraisers/CMMI consultants have always done appraisals.  We play an active role in helping you prepare, review and identify artifacts in the weeks and months leading up to the appraisal.  We help you plan, and we help you manage the data collection process because we care about your success.  Remember, we're not auditors!

Here’s an example.  When Broadsword conducts an appraisal, I meet with the appraisal team at least 60-90 days before the appraisal to define how the data will be collected.  I help them form their teams, and I collaborate with them to develop explicit assignments for them to analyze specific projects or process areas.  Then I send them out to collect and analyze the the data.  

I meet with them once per week (or more if they need it . . . and some do!)  to review what they’ve come up with.  I answer their questions, I give them suggestions for improving the process they are using.  I talk with them about software development, project management, and engineering, check what they’ve found and lead a discussion on what it all means in the context of the CMMI model.  Through the whole process of collecting data I manage the collection and learning process.  Then, when I arrive for the onsite to perform the Discover portion, we only have to interviews and some additional verification to perform.  The artifacts have already been reviewed!

Let’s face it.  The purpose of data collection is not to audit the process or require the company to show us 8,000 documents.  The purpose of data collection – and all actions associated with the SCAMPI -- is to have reflection, discovery and introspective discussions about the work products over time.  To determine if they are useful to the company and contribute to their success.  You can’t do that in audit mode.

If your CMMI consultant can’t get that, it might be time for another terminology change … as in former-CMMI consultant.

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, Candidate SCAMPI Appraiser Observer, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations.  Jeff has taught thousands of students and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Learn more about the right kind of CMMI consultant at

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I hear that the new version of CMMI says we can ignore "Indirect" Artifacts

Hey, Jeff

Our boss says we know what we're doing and we’re going to go it alone in preparing for our CMMI appraisal.  After reading the changes to the SCAMPI model, we have a question.  Is it really true that people preparing for CMMI appraisals can ignore indirect artifacts?  In other words, I don’t have to get these anymore, right? - Mike H.

Whoooo whoooo!  Party time!  No more indirects!!!!!

Hey, Mike – You are not alone in your confusion over the changes in SCAMPI v1.3 regarding direct and indirect artifacts.

If you are preparing for a CMMI appraisal on your own, you need to understand these concepts thoroughly, or miss your chance at becoming a great company (you DID know that it's not about CMMI Certification right?).  When a lead appraiser – a good one – conducts appraisals, he looks for both kinds of artifacts, direct and indirect.  Both are needed to demonstrate process performance, regardless of what SCAMPI v1.3 says.

He will look for direct artifacts, those were created as a result of having gone through a process.  For example, let’s say your company went through the process of creating a sales plan.  The direct artifact is the binder that the plan is presented in. 

He will also look for indirect artifacts, those that show how the process unfolded.  Emails, calendar entries, project management reports, etc. are indirect artifacts that show how the plan in the binder was created.

The change to SCAMPI doesn't say ARTIFACT . . . it says ARTIFACTS!  One "direct" isn't gonna cut it.

A good lead appraiser wants to see the binder, and wants to know how it was produced.  When he sees all of the emails, he can say, “Oh, you created this sales plan in collaboration with these people, and they came down to visit you, and this is the output.”

In other words, a good lead appraiser operates as though not much has changed at all.

So why did they change the rules, if they didn’t intend for behaviors to change?

It can be traced back to an honest effort to bring in more perspectives from throughout the community.  When the new version of SCAMPI was being developed, the SEI thoughtfully asked for feedback from a lot of people.  Some of them, through no fault of their own, had limited knowledge of CMMI or SCAMPI, and were getting confused over what was direct and indirect evidence.  They complained that inventory effort required to catalogue direct and indirect artifacts was burdensome.

So the SEI said, “OK, we’ll simplify this concept for v1.3, and we’re just going to say that you have to provide artifacts.”  That's with an "s."

But don’t think this means you can take the rest of the day off.  You still have to provide appropriate artifacts.  The new version of SCAMPI still requires evidence of what the project produced (direct artifact) and how it came about (indirect artifacts).  We just don’t care as much about categorizing.
Unfortunately, no matter what rules you have, someone will try to skirt around them. Some of our certificate-wielding friends (you know who you are) sometimes seem to spend more time figuring out how to get around the rules than following them.  If their Lead Appraiser lets them get away with that, shame on both of them.
So, you rule skirters out there (not you, Mike), those of you who want the CMMI certificate only: Don’t celebrate yet.  Nothing has really changed regarding the importance of different types of artifacts.   The SEI is just making your inventory system a little bit easier.

You still have your shot at greatness. Go for it!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, Candidate SCAMPI Appraiser Observer, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations.  Jeff has taught thousands of students and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Is CMMI compatible with Scrum? I don't see anything in Scrum about it.

Dear Appraiser,

I know CMMI can help us, but we're a Scrum shop. We need to know if CMMI is compatible with Scrum.  Specifically, what about CM (Configuration Management) and CM SP3.2 (perform configuration audits).  

We've written a lot about the subject of CMMI and Scrum (and other agile methods such as XP and Spiral) and the answer is "YES!"  Scrum is a methodology, and the CMMI is a model of a great company.  It is methodology agnostic, so can be used with any agile or other methodology.

Read the detail in "CMMI or Agile: Why not Embrace Both!" that was co-written by Glazer, Dalton (me!), Anderson, Konrad (SEI), and Shrum (SEI).  You can find it at in our free "Premium Resources" section.

The biggest problem is one of imagination.  For instance the CMMI guides you to have regular status and milestone meetings.  "MEETINGS?!!!!  We're agile, we don't do MEETINGS!" say many of my agile purista friends. don't do meetings?  How about the daily standup?  How about the Scrum demo?  How about almost EVERYTHING you do?  Scrum is about collaboration if it's about nothing else, and collaboration happens mostly in meetings.

So keep an open mind and think outside the box.

The CMMI talks a lot about estimating.  Planning poker, fibonacci cards, story points?  All good.
The CMMI talks a lot about configuration management.  What?  You don't manage your code with CVS, SourceSafe, Collabnet, or something else?  That's not Scrum.  That's just dumb.

All CM SP3.2 is about is making sure the code and important artifacts are in fact being managed properly.  It means someone is checking to make sure dumb stuff isn't happening.  But it's not in Scrum.

Sometimes Scrum (or anything else) has gaps.  This is where the CMMI can really help you.

Round out what you really like (Scrum, XP, etc) with the CMMI.  It will transform you from good to great!