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The Software Process and Measurement Cast features our interview with Kirk Botula on capability.  Kirk makes the argument that capability is crucial for organizational health and agility.

Kirk Botula is the CEO of the CMMI® Institute, the home of the globally-adopted capability improvement framework that guides organizations in high-performance operations. Botula is a global growth company executive whose career has been focused on advancing the common good through the commercialization of technology. Prior to CMMI Institute, Botula served as President of Confluence, a global financial technology firm with operations in North America, EMEA and Asia.

During his tenure, Confluence became the leading provider in its space achieving market share exceeding 70% in North America and 20% globally, while delivering the industry leading NPS of 40. Botula also served at BNY Mellon, Compunetix, and as a strategist to a variety of nonprofit and for-profit organizations. He has a BFA and MSIA from Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and three daughters.

Reach out to Kirk at info@cmmiinstitute.com (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 402 features our interview with Ulises Torres.  Ulises and I talked about how his firm, Intellego, has leveraged Agile and the CMMI to improve quality, increase customer satisfaction and business. Ulises makes a strong argument that for his company, Agile and the CMMI are better together.

Ulises Torres has over 24 years of experience in IT, either as a Developer, Team Leader, Project Manager or as an Architect, analyzing, designing, building and implementing a large number of applications, mainly with regard to retail, manufacturing, logistics/distribution and financials.  He has worked in software factories, running different projects at the same time and has formal training and proficiency in QA, Scrum, Lean Kanban, Six sigma, OOP, UML, RUP,  CMMI and PMI frameworks.

Ulises work at Intellego, a development of solutions and information management services company with offices in México, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Perú, and USA.

Contact Information:

Email: utorres@intellego.com.mx

Web: http://www.grupointellego.com/en/the-company/
http://www.grupointellego.com/la-compania/

Re-Read Saturday News

This week we continue the Re-read Saturday of  Kent Beck’s XP Explained, Second Edition with a discussion of Chapters 6 and 7.  Practices, Beck notes represent endpoints that need to be pursued using “baby steps” but they are at the core of how we practice XP. Use the link to XP Explained in the show notes when you buy your copy to read along to support both the blog and podcast. Visit the Software Process and Measurement Blog (www.tcagley.wordpress.com) to catch up on past installments of Re-Read Saturday. (more…)

20160324_165235

Nesting Easter eggs show each layer of the process improvement architecture

One of my children owned a (Russian nesting doll) that is now somewhere in our attic.  I was always struck how one piece fit within the other and how getting the assembly out of order generated a mess. I think I learned more from the toy than my children did.  The matryoshka doll is a wonderful metaphor for models, frameworks, and methodologies. A model represents the outside shell into which a framework fits followed by the next doll representing a methodology placed inside the framework. Like models, frameworks, and methodologies, each individual doll is unique, but they are related to the whole group of dolls. (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast features my interview with Jeff Dalton.  Jeff returns to the Software Process and Measurement Cast to discuss the 12 attributes of successful Agile organizations. Jeff talks about the relatively small set of attributes that successful Agile organizations possess and exhibit. These attributes don’t occur by accident, but rather are a reflection of hard work and consistency of purpose.  We can all reflect and adopt these attributes in our pursuit of success. Jeff shows us how!

Jeff’s Bio Jeff Dalton is President of Broadsword, a Certified Lead Appraiser, CMMI Instructor, ScrumMaster and author of “agileCMMI,” Broadsword’s leading methodology for incremental and iterative process improvement, as well as many published articles and ebooks on performance innovation.

Jeff has been selected Keynote Speaker at numerous conferences including the International Conference on CMMI in Lima, Peru, the PMI Great Lakes 2013 Symposium, the 2014 QUEST Conference and Expo, the CMMI SEPG Conference 2014, the CMMI Global Congress 2015, the PM Symposium Indianapolis 2015 and the PM Symposium Chicago 2015.  He has appeared multiple times at Agile Development West, Better Software, Agile Processes and Tools, AgileDC, and at Software Process Improvement Network (SPIN) and Agile Leadership Network (ALN) meetups throughout North America.

Jeff served as the Chairman of the Partner Advisory Board at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) and CMMI Institute from 2011-2014 during their transition period.  He has been president of Great Lakes Software Process Improvement Network, and is a recipient of the prestigious Software Engineering Institute’s SEI Member Award for Outstanding Representative for his work uniting the Agile and CMMI communities through his popular blog “Ask the CMMI Appraiser.” He holds degrees in Music and Computer Science and builds experimental airplanes in his spare time.  Jeff can be reached at appraiser@broadswordsolutions.com.

Contact Data:
Email: appraiser@broadswordsolutions.com.
Twitter: @CMMIAppraiser
Blog: http://askthecmmiappraiser.blogspot.com/
Web: http://www.broadswordsolutions.com/
also see: www.cmmi-tv.com

Previous Appearances on the podcast:
SPaMCAST 296 – Jeff Dalton, CMMI, Agile, Resiliency

SPaMCAST 176 – Jeff Dalton, CMMI, Scrum and Agile

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Re-Read Saturday News

Remember that the Re-Read Saturday of The Mythical Man-Month returns this week when we tackle the essay titled “The Other Face” Check out the new installment at Software Process and Measurement Blog.

 

Upcoming Events

Agile Development Conference East
November 8-13, 2015
Orlando, Florida
http://adceast.techwell.com/

I will be speaking on November 12th on the topic of Agile Risk. Let me know if you are going and we will have a SPaMCAST Meetup.

Next SPaMCAST

The next Software Process and Measurement Cast returns to the topic of Agile Project Charters, tackling the concepts needed to scale a charter to an Agile project or program. When Agile projects scale up to handle larger efforts additional steps are often required. Additional steps can lead to bloat if you do not take care.

We will also have a new installment of Jeremy Berriault’s QA Corner! We discussed the definition of test cases and why they are so important to delivering quality code!

Shameless Ad for my book!

Mastering Software Project Management: Best Practices, Tools and Techniques co-authored by Murali Chematuri and myself and published by J. Ross Publishing. We have received unsolicited reviews like the following: “This book will prove that software projects should not be a tedious process for you or your team.” Support SPaMCAST by buying the book here. Available in English and Chinese.

 

Are you ready to build change?

Are you ready to build change?

Many times an organization or individual will start a change program because they deem it necessary for survival. But change is never easy. Survival and pain avoidance, while powerful, can lead to pursuing change as a reaction to pain rather than as pursuit of value. Pain avoidance and generation of business value both are necessary pieces of knowledge as the intellectual benefits persuade, while pain avoidance sells. In order to ensure that both sides of the change are addressed a framework can be useful to generate focus. The simple CMMI Readiness Checklist can be used for any major change initiative, but is tailored toward the testing whether the requirements for implementing a framework like the CMMI have been addressed.

I have broken this checklist into three categories: resources, plans and attitudes.  Each can be leveraged separately; however using the three components will help you to focus on the big picture.

Scale

The simple checklist can be used as a tool to evaluate how well you have prepared for you CMMI journey using the questions as evaluation criteria.  To use the checklist, evaluate each question on a scale of high, medium, low and not present (with one exception). Each question will potentially contribute points toward the total that can be used to evaluate preparation.

Section and Question Weights:

Resources: Forty-two total points. Each component contributes up to 7 points (7, 3, 1, 0).

Plans: Eighteen total points. Each component contributes up to 6 points (6, 3, 1, 0).

Attitude: Forty total points. Each component contributes up to 8 points (8, 4, 2, 0).

Resources

Resources are the raw materials that you will consume on your journey.  As with any journey having both the correct resources and correct amount of resources will make the journey easier.  Just think of trying to canoe from New York to London for a meeting; the wrong resources can make the trip difficult.

Management Support

Support from management is critical as we have discussed in past checklists, but so is support from your peers and from the teams that will be using the processes.

Score

7 – Senior management is actively involved in guiding and using the outputs of the CMMI.  Senior managers stop people in the hall to discuss progress and recently process implementations. Discussion of progress is an agenda item at all managers staff meetings.

3 – Senior and middle managers attend formal CMMI informational meetings and talk about the need to support the CMMI initiative.

1 – Senior managers attended the kick-off meeting, then relocating in mass to Aruba, leaving the middle managers in charge.

0 – The change initiative is a grass-roots effort.

Cash

Change costs money. Costs can include consultants, training, travel and an odd late-night pizza or two.

7 – A reasonable budget has been established and the implementation team can draw from the budget for planned expenditures.  Emergency funding can be attained to handle issues.

3 – A reasonable budget has been established and approved; however, access must be requested and justified for all expenditures.

1 – Any time that money is required funding must be requested and approved.

0 – Donations are sought in the organization’s lunchroom on a periodic basis (consider a PayPal donation button on your homepage).

Effort

Even if you have bales of cash, developing and implementing processes will require effort. Effort will be required from many constituencies including the process-improvement team, management and from the teams using the process, just to name a few.

7 – A reasonable staffing plan has been established and the change program is the only project the assigned resources have been committed to.

4 – A reasonable staffing plan has been established and the change initiative is the highest priority for the assigned resources.

1 – All resources are shared between the change initiative and are also assigned to other projects with high priority.

0 – You have all the effort you need after 5 PM and before 8 AM and during company holidays.

Change Specialist

Organizational change requires skills that are not generally found in an IT department. The skills needed include sales, marketing and communication.

7 – An organizational-change specialist has been assigned as a full-time resource for the project.

3 – An organizational-change specialist is available within the organization and works on many projects simultaneously. The specialist may or may not have had experience with IT change programs.

1 – Someone on the team has helped craft an organizational change plan in the past.

0 – Organizational change websites are blocked and your best bet is buying a book on Amazon using your own cash.

Projects

Change requires something to impact.  The organization needs to have a consistent flow of projects so that changes are not one-shot attempts.

7 – Projects are constantly beginning that will provide a platform for implementing process changes.

3 – There are numerous projects in the organization; however they typically begin early in the year or on some other periodic basis that makes waiting a necessity if you are not ready exactly on time.

1 – The organization does only a small number of projects every year.

0 – The organization does one large project every year.

Calendar Time

Calendar time is a resource that is as important as any other resource. Severe calendar constraints can lead to irrational or bet-the-farm behaviors which increase risk.

7 – The schedule for implementing the CMMI is in line with industry norms and includes time for tweaking the required processes before appraising.

3 – The schedule is realistic but bare bones. Any problems could cause delay.

1 – Expectations have been set that will require a compressed schedule; however, delay will only be career limiting rather than a critical impact on the business.

0 – The CMMI implantation is critical for the organization’s survival and is required on an extremely compressed schedule.

Expertise

A deep understanding of the CMMI (or any other framework for that matter) will be needed to apply the model in a dynamic environment.  Experience is generally hard won. “Doing” it once generally does not provide enough expertise to allow the level of tailoring needed to apply the model in more than one environment. Do not be afraid to get a mentor if this is a weakness.

7 – The leaders and team members working to implement the CMMI have been intimately involved in successfully implementing the framework in different environments.

3 –The leader and at least one of the team members have been involved in implementing the CMMI in the past in a similar environment.

1 – Only the leader of the CMMI program has been involved with implementing the CMMI in another environment.

0 – All of the team members have taken the basic CMMI course and can spell CMMI assuming they can buy a vowel.

Plans

Planning for the implementation of change can take many forms — from classic planning documents and schedules to backlogs.  The structure of the plan is less of a discussion point than the content.  You need several plans when changing an organization. While the term “several” is used this does not mandate many volumes of paper and schedules, rather that the activities required are thought through and recorded, the goal is known and the constraints on the program have been identified (in other words the who, what, when, why and how are known to the level required).

Scale and Scoring

Plans: Eighteen total points. Each component contributes up to 6 points (6, 3, 1, 0).

Organizational Change Plan

The Organizational Change Plan includes information on how the changes required to implement the CMMI will be communicated, marketed, reported, discussed, supported, trained and, if necessary escalated.

6 – A full change management plan has been developed, implemented and is being constantly monitored.

3 –An Organizational Change Plan is planned but is yet to be developed. .

1 – When created, the Organizational Change Plan will be referenced occasionally.

0 – No Organizational Change Plan has or will be created.

Backlog

The backlog records what needs to be changed in prioritized order. The backlog should include all changes, issues and risks. The items in the backlog will be broken down into tasks as they are selected to be worked on.  The format needs to match corporate culture and can range from an Agile backlog to in a waterfall organization, a requirements document.

6 – A prioritized backlog exists and is constantly maintained.

3 – A prioritized backlog exists and is periodically maintained.

1 – A rough list of tasks and activities is kept on whiteboard.

0 – No backlog or list of tasks exists.

Governance

Any change program requires resources, perseverance and political capital. In most corporations these types of requirements scream the need for oversight (governance is a code word for the less friendly word oversight). Governance defines who decides which changes will be made, when they will be made and who will pay for the changes. I strongly recommend that you decide how governance will be handled and write it down and make sure all of your stakeholders are comfortable on how you will get their advice, counsel, budget and in some cases permission.

6 – A full-governance plan has been developed, implemented and is being constantly monitored.

3 –A governance plan is planned, but is yet to be developed.

1 – When created, the governance plan will be used to show the process auditors.

0 – Governance . . . who needs it!

Attitude

When you talk about attitude it seems personal rather than organizational, but when it comes to large changes I believe that both the attitude of the organization and critical individuals are important.  As you prepare to address the CMMI, the onus is on you as a change leader to develop a nuanced understanding of who you need to influence within the organization. The checklist will portray an organizational view; however, you can and should replicate the exercise for specific critical influencers.

Scale and Scoring

Attitude: Forty total points. Each component contributes up to 8 points (8, 4, 2, 0).

Vision of tomorrow

Is there a belief that tomorrow will be demonstratively better based on the actions that are being taken? The organization needs to have a clear vision that tomorrow will be better than today in order to positively motivate the team to aspire to be better than they are.

8 – The organization is excited about the changes that are being implemented.  Volunteers to help or to pilot are numerous.

4 – Most of the organization is excited about most of the changes and their impact on the future.

2 – A neutral outlook (or at least undecided) is present.

0 – Active disenchantment with or dissension about the future is present.

Minimalist

The view that the simplest process change that works is the best is important in today’s lean world.  In many cases heavy processes are wearing on everyone who uses them and even when the process is okay today, entropy will add steps and reviews over time, which adds unneeded weight.  Score this attribute higher if the organization has a process to continually apply lean principles as a step in process maintenance.

8 – All processes are designed with lean principles formally applied.  Productivity and throughput are monitored to ensure that output isn’t negatively impacted.

4 – All processes are designed with lean principles formally applied; however, they are not monitored quantitatively.

2 – All processes are designed with lean principles informally applied.

0 – Processes are graded by the number of steps required, with a higher number being better.

Learner

A learner is someone that is learning understands that they don’t know everything and that mistakes will be made. They understand that when made, mistakes are to be examined and corrected rather than swept under the carpet. Another attribute of a learner is the knowledge that the synthesis of data and knowledge from other sources is required for growth.  In most organizations, an important source of process knowledge and definition are the practitioners — but not the sole source.

8 – New ideas are actively pursued and evaluated on an equal footing with any other idea or concept.

4 – New ideas are actively pursued and evaluated, but those that reflect the way work is currently done are given more weight.

2 – The “not invented here” point of view has a bit of a hold on the organization, making the introduction of new ideas difficult.

0 – There is only one way to do anything and it was invented here sometime early last century.  Introduction of new ideas is considered dangerous.

Goal Driven

The organization needs to have a real need to drive the change and must be used to pursuing longer-term goals. The Process Philosopher of Sherbrooke once told me that being goal-driven is required to be serious about change.  In many cases a good, focused near-death experience increases the probability of change, but waiting that long can create a negative atmosphere. A check-the-box goal rarely provides more than short-term localized motivation.

8 – The organization has a well-stated positive goal and that the CMMI not only supports, but is integral to attaining that goal.

2 – The pursuit of the CMMI is about checking a box on a RFP response.

0 – CMMI is being pursued for no apparent purpose.

Conviction

Belief in the underlying concepts of the CMMI (or other change framework) provides motivation to the organization and individuals.  Conviction creates a scenario where constancy of purpose (Deming) is not an after-thought but the way things are done. Implementing frameworks like the CMMI are long-term efforts — generally with levels of excitement cycling through peaks and valleys.  In the valley when despair becomes a powerful force, many times conviction is the thread that keeps things moving forward. Without a critical mass of conviction it will be easy to wander off to focus on the next new idea.

8 – We believe and have evidence that from the past that we can continue to believe over time.

4 – We believe but this is the first time we’ve attempted something this big!

2 – We believe  . . . mostly.

0 – No Organizational-Change Plan has been created.

Scoring

Sum all of the scores and apply the following criteria.

100 – 80   You have a great base; live the dream.

79 – 60   Focus on building your change infrastructure as you begin the CMMI journey.

59 – 30   Remediate your weaknesses before you start wrestling with the CMMI.

29 –   0   Run Away! Trying to implement the CMMI will be equivalent to putting your hand in the garbage disposal with it running; avoid if you absolutely can!

Do you have someone backing you up?

Do you have someone backing you up?

Audio Version on SPaMCAST 143

I asked many of my colleagues what they thought were the precursors to beginning a CMMI change program. Almost to a person, they began their list with senior management support, which makes sense as the CMMI has become the top-down process improvement framework of choice, and a prominent attribute of top-down change programs is the need for explicit senior management support.

Deciding whether your process improvement program is best pursued from a bottom-up or the top-down perspective is not a throw-away question. The method you are using changes as it matures over time.  I have heard that during early days of the SEPG conference  there were numerous presentations on how the CMMI could be implemented as a grassroots change program.  Presentations on the pursuit of the CMMI using grassroots techniques are now few and far between, however if you go to an Agile conference you will still see presentations of this type.

Given the importance of senior management support, you need to ensure you have it BEFORE you start any top-down improvement program using a framework like the CMMI.  There are six things to consider when determining whether you have senior management support. They are:

  1. Assigning the right people
  2. Being visible
  3. Organizational change management support
  4. Providing required resources
  5. Enforcing the processes
  6. Having a constancy of purpose

Assigning the right people: Start by assessing whether your top performers and leaders are assigned to staff your CMMI change program. Assigning the best and brightest serves multiple purposes. Top performers tend to demand and draw respect from the staff.  Secondly, assigning the best and brightest is a show of determination by the organization.

Being visible:  Do members of the senior management team attend training classes or status meetings?  Do they stop people in the hall and ask about the program?  Being visible is a convincing approach to proving that the CMMI program is important and success is personnel. Tom Szurszewski said, “The Senior Management/Sponsor should attend the “Intro to CMMI” class, along with the individuals who were being charged with “making it happen.” Participating in training ensures an equal level of understanding and a very public show of visibility.

Organizational change management support: Making the changes needed to support the CMMI tends to require organizational nips and tucks. Only senior management can grease the skids to make organizational changes.  Nanette Yokley stressed the need for an Executive Sponsor that “ideally … understands what they are getting into related to changes needed and long-term process.”

Providing the required resources:  Resources can include budget, tools, space, training classes and others.  Without the right resources, change programs will struggle. Trying to apply the CMMI on the cheap is usually a prescription for problems.  Paul Laberge went to heart of the matter with one of his comments saying, “management must ensure the availability of a resource (or more) to maintain the process improvement program and documented processes.”

Enforcing the processes: When implementing any process changes, using the process can’t be optional. When push comes to shove (and it will), management can’t hand out free passes. Management must enforce the process or risk the failure of the program.

Constancy of purpose:  W. Edward Deming felt so strongly about the need for constancy of purpose that it was the first of his famous fourteen points. Lasting change requires a focus that goes past the first problem or the next quarter. If the CMMI is perceived to be the change “flavor of the week,” the overall degree of difficulty for staying the course will be higher than expected.  Dominique Bourget talked about measuring “the will of the upper management to improve.”  Frankly, that will say a lot about staying power of any change program.

Scoring:

  1. Review each attribute. Can you honestly say that your senior management team (usually more than one) is delivering on each attribute?
  2. Answer each with a yes or no.

If you answer five or more yes you are in good shape. If you can answer yes to less than five, it is time for a serious conversation with your senior management on how to handle remediating the problem and to build management support.

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CMMI, ITIL, Six Sigma, Agile, waterfall, software development life cycle and eXtreme Programming . . .what do all of these terms have in common?  They are models.  In a perfect world, models are abstractions that we find useful to explain the world around us.  Models work by rendering complex ideas more simply.  For example, both a road map and picture rendered in Google Earth are models.  Two very different types of models: an abstraction of a set roads, buildings, parks and plants that exhibit can provide more information than rendering.  Real life is complex, Google Earth is less complex and the road maps are the least complex.  Simplifying a concept to a point allows understanding, while too much simplification renders the concept as a pale reflection.  Oversimplification can lead to misunderstandings or misconceptions, for example the conception that Agile methods are undisciplined or that waterfall methods are bureaucratic.  Both of these are misconceptions (individual implementations are another story).  According to Kenji Haranabe, software development is a form of communication game.  Communication requires that groups understand a concept so that it can be implemented.  Communication and understanding requires finding a level where common understanding based on common words can occur.  Words provide the simplification of real life into a form of model.

Unfortunately it is difficult to determine when enough simplification is enough.  Oversimplification of ideas can allow trouble to creep in.  Oversimplification can water down a concept to the point that it can not provide useful information to be used operationally.  An example of a very simple model is the five maturity levels commonly connected to the CMMI.  The maturity levels build awareness, but provide little operational information.  I do not know how many times I have heard people talk about an individual maturity level as if the name given to that level was all you needed to know about a maturity level.   The less simplified version with process areas, goals and practices provides substantial operational information.  ‘Operationalizing’ an overly simplified model will yield unanticipated results and that is not what we want from a model.  I once built a model of the battleship Missouri that had horrible directions (directions are a model of a model), I used three firecrackers to remodel the thing I ended up with (which was not a very good model).

Models abound in the world of information technology.  If we don’t have a model for it, we at least have TLA (three letter acronym) for it and are working on a model that will incorporate it.  The models that have lasting power provide structure, discipline and control.  They’re also used as a tool to guide work (tightly or loosely depends on the organization) and as a scaffold to define improvements in a structured manner.  Models are powerful; molding, bending and guiding legions of IT practitioners.  The dark side of this power is that the choice of models can be definitional statement for a group or organization.  Selecting a model can elicit all of the passions of politics or religion.  Just consider the emotions you feel when describing Six Sigma, CMMI, eXtreme Programming, waterfall or Agile.  One of those words will probably be a hot button.  The power of models can become seductive and entrenched so as to reduce your ability to change and adapt as circumstances demand.  A model is never a goal!  Define what your expectations are for the model or models that you are you using in business terms.  Examples of goals I would expect are of increased customer satisfaction, improved quality or faster time-to-market, rather than attaining CMMI Maturity Level 2 or implementing daily builds.  Know what you want to accomplish then integrate the models and tactics to achieve those goals.  Do not let the tool be the goal.

Models are powerful, useful tools to ensure understanding, they provide structure and discipline.  Perform a health check.  Questions to ask about the models in your organization begin with:

  1. Is there is a deep enough understanding of the model being used? – With knowledge comes the background to operationalize the model.
  2. What are your expectations of value from the model? – Knowing what you want from a model helps ensure that the model does not become the goal and that you retain the ability to be flexible.

There are many other questions you can ask on your heath check, however if you can’t answer these questions well stop and reassess, re-evaluate, re-train and re-plan your effort.

CMMI, ITIL, Six Sigma, Agile, waterfall, software development life cycle and eXtreme Programming. . . powerful tools or a straight jacket. Which is it for you?