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Apr 5

How To Pick a CMMI Lead Appraiser

by Kevin Cotherman, Appraisers, Comments Off on How To Pick a CMMI Lead Appraiser

Apr 5

How To Pick a CMMI Lead Appraiser

When a company decides to implement the CMMI®, one of the first questions asked is, “What lead appraiser should we use?”

What usually happens is someone from the company knows someone from another company who has implemented the CMMI and has been appraised, so that person is contacted to get the name of the lead appraiser they used.  Getting a reference is a great start, but don’t stop with one reference, and don’t agree to that lead appraiser without doing you own due diligence.

Let’s assume you have several names of lead appraisers you are considering.  How do you pick one?  Follow these steps:

1. Make sure the lead appraiser is a CMMI Institute-certified lead appraiser in good standing.  You can verify this by  searching the person name on the CMMI Institute’s web site,  If the appraiser is in the CMMI Institute’s database, ensure the appraiser is certified to appraise the CMMI constellation you are interested in, such as development, services, or acquisition.

2. Check the number of appraisals the appraiser has performed in the CMMI constellation you are interested in.  You can do this from the published appraisal web site,  You can click on “Team Leader” and this organizes the appraisals by appraiser’s name in alphabetical order.  You can also filter on the CMMI constellation to get the list of  appraisers who have performed an appraisal in the constellation you are interested in.

3. While reviewing the number of appraisals each appraiser has performed, write down the sponsor’s name for a couple of the appraisals.  Contact these people to get some feedback on the appraiser.  This is a more objective approach than asking for references from the appraisers, who will give you names of people they want you to talk to.

4. After talking with the sponsors of the appraiser’s past appraisals, you will have a list of candidate appraisers who made the final cut.  Now you should interview each appraiser, in person, if possible.  What questions should you ask?  Here is a list of some important questions:

a. What experience do they have in your industry and size of company?

b. What is their plan for implementing the CMMI and appraising your company?

i.    How long does it typically take?

ii.    What templates, processes, and tools can they provide?  (Note:  I helped develop an innovative CMMI implementation tool that comes with processes and templates for maturity level 3.  Check it out at

c. What is their cost for consulting and for the appraisal?

i.    Typically appraisers charge an hourly rate while consulting and helping the organization prepare for the appraisal.  Ask how they charge for their appraisal.  Be aware that appraisers who charge an hourly rate for the appraisals cannot know exactly how much their appraisal is going to cost.

These are some questions, but you will want to ask more.  It is important to get a feel if the appraiser will be a good fit with your company culture.  I have seen some appraisers who are arrogant jerks who think they know it all and who make unreasonable demands.  Stay away from these people; they will only cause your company trouble.

This may seem like a lot of work to get an appraiser.  Why not just use someone who is recommended by someone you know?  Getting appraised is very important – business and jobs are on the line.  Implementing the CMMI and getting appraised is time consuming for your company personnel, and it is very expensive.  You must make sure you and your appraiser are a good fit.

I created a Lead Appraiser Decision Matrix to help you make your decision.  I will be happy to send it to you.

If you want to ask your own questions, you can ask in our contact us section. Kevin Cotherman and Debbie O’Grady 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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