by , Blog, 4 Comments

Dec 15

Five Reasons You Fear CMMI (and what you can do about it)

by Kevin Cotherman, Blog, 4 Comments

Dec 15

Five Reasons You Fear CMMI (and what you can do about them)

1.    It takes too much time and effort

The CMMI can seem overwhelming and a burden to implement.  There are 356 practices for Maturity Level 3, and each practice needs to have a process describing how to perform that practice.  This does not mean there needs to be 356 separate documents, because processes can be combined into one document or one process covers many practices.  For example, one stakeholder matrix can address 19 practices

There are three approaches for defining and documenting processes.  The first approach has the person responsible for  performing the process, document what they do – using a template so all processes have similar format.

The second approach has someone interview the people responsible for performing each process, and then they will document the processes.  All personnel who will be performing this process need to peer review the draft of the process to identify missing/inaccurate parts; plus this will also serve as training for this process.

The third approach is to purchase a tool.  A tool will save time and money if it contains easily customizable processes and templates, and if it addresses all practices within CMMI Maturity Level 3.

One such tool, CMMI-Live, has a CMMI compliant infrastructure which contains processes and templates for you to customize or update with the way your company does business.  Then you have processes for each practice within the CMMI.

2.    The CMMI tells me what to do – it takes away my creativity

The CMMI is just a set of best practices describing the way projects should be run, and it covers the complete project lifecycle for Maturity Level 3.  The best part of the CMMI is that it tells you what needs to be done, but it does not tell you how to do it; that is your job.  This makes sense because, as an example, the way a small company collects, analyzes, and documents requirements will most likely be very different from a large corporation.  A project team member can be as creative as he or she wants to be in following the CMMI practices.

CMMI-Live uses a collaborative approach by engaging the process users – the front line employees – to develop and improve the processes they are actually using.  This makes the employees part of developing and improving their own processes, which vastly increases the propensity they will use them.

3.    I hate consultants

Consultants come in all shapes, sizes, and unfortunately attitudes.  Your company wants to get and keep a relationship with a good consultant.  Often companies pick a consultant based on a referral, which is better than picking one based on location only.  Your company must get referrals and interview the consultant.  Have the prospective consultant meet and talk with many people within your company.  Since the consultant will be working with you to implement the CMMI, it will be a long term relationship.

I have seen too many consultants come in as the experts in the company’s business and tell the project members how they should be doing their job.  This is a disaster.  The consultant must be an expert in the CMMI and appraisal methodology, but he/she is not an expert of your business.  Even if they have experience in your field or area, they should give process improvement advice, not tell the company how to do their job.  If the consultant has this attitude, then get rid of him/her immediately.  They may give you advice for your business, but you should not feel pressure to take it.

4.    The CMMI is just a way for the company to bid on a contract – it does not have any long term benefits

This is a real issue – one I have seen too often.  The reason companies do not see long term benefits of using the CMMI is because companies stop using it after they are appraised.  If a company continued to use the CMMI, then they would experience the benefits of process discipline, e.g., best practices, greater efficiency, improved quality, and better employee and customer satisfaction.

An appraisal is good for three years, so if the company wants to have an active appraisal rating, then a re-appraisal must be performed before the current appraisal expires.  It is very discouraging to visit a company who is preparing for their re-appraisal only to find out that they stopped using their processes after the initial appraisal.  If they had only continued to use their processes, they would have become more efficient and have better productivity and quality.

The only way to ensure the process improvement benefits continue is to use the CMMI processes after the appraisal.  And the only way to do this is to have senior management demand it and provided the time and money for personnel to continue to follow and improve their processes.

CMMI-Live, with the complete level 3 processes that your organization has customized to fit your business, enables managers to assign tasks to complete all Maturity Level 3 processes.  This will ensure that companies continue to follow the CMMI and gain long-term benefits from process improvement.  This becomes part of the normal business day, which ensures processes are being followed.

You can put all of your department’s processes and task within OnTheSystem, not just CMMI related.  This further ensures the organization will continue to use the CMMI if they continue to use OnTheSystem.

5.    To be appraised and achieve a maturity level takes project personnel away from the primary job of working on the project and satisfying the customer to prepare for the appraisal

This is the most common complaint I hear from companies after completing their appraisal; “It took so long and so many hours to prepare for the appraisal.”  They also say, “I hate that stupid PIID!”

I asked one company how long it took them, and they said 400 hours.  To put a cost figure on this, assume the hourly rate is $50 (which is probably low), then just to prepare for the appraisal cost this company $20,000.

To prepare for an appraisal and complete the PIID (process implementation indicator description) is such a time-consuming, painful, and costly experience that no one, and I mean no one, looks forward to completing it.

CMMI-Live has the PIID built in, so it is automatically being completed by performing normal activities.  Since there are tasks that ensure all practices are addressed, any artifact that is created is attached to that task.  So the project artifact is attached to the completed processes.  This is easy, and part of a person’s normal day.

Consequently, an organization is always in an appraisal-ready state.  No more spending tens of thousands of dollars preparing for an appraisal.


If you want to ask your own questions, you can ask in our contact us section. Kevin Cotherman will get them answered on the next ”Ask The Lead Appraisers” webinar – or if you wish to remain anonymous, just send us an email.

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