Monday, March 31, 2008

Are external audits covered by PPQA PA?

PPQA and the CMMI do not preclude the use of external resources to perform PPQA process and work product audits. You can “outsource” this activity and still be compliant with the CMMI. However, from a practical implementation approach, this is not a good practice. Do you really want a group/company/consultant who does not have a vested interest in the success of your organization/company to be the eyes and ears of senior management? Just as you want to avoid internal bias and filtering by management internal to the organization when reporting PPQA results, you want to avoid other kinds of bias and filtering by outside factors. For example, there is the risk that an outsourced PPQA group may filter the results so they can grow their presence in your company when it is not justified. When an external company has an active sales and marketing force, there is always pressure to “grow” the account. In addition, what if the external PPQA provider has to pull their resources from you to use on a different project? That will not benefit your organization.

Here is a analogy that might be a bit of a stretch. We have a cleaning service for our home. Every three weeks or so the agency sends some cleaning ladies to our house. Sometimes there are two ladies and sometimes three. There have been occasions when the same ladies come multiple times. Whereas at other times they send new ladies. Therefore, there is no consistency from cleaning visit to cleaning visit. Some ladies do a better job than others. And despite the feedback evaluations we send in after each cleaning visit asking that they continue to send the ladies we are pleased with, there is constant churn. The churn may be due to attrition and hiring of new staff or growing business where the excellent cleaners have to support a larger client base and train new ladies. At any rate, this type of behavior could happen to you if you outsource your PPQA function. That is why I strongly recommend building an internal PPQA capability. Who better to objectively evaluate your processes, procedures, and work products than internal people? And besides, I have found that internal PPQA people are much harder on the organization, thus driving greater benefits, than external people.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Can I Update My Appraisal Results After Submission to the SEI?

I had an interesting call from a client the other day. He wanted to know if is was possible to change the wording in the Appraisal Disclosure Statement after it has been posted by the SEI on the Published Appraisal Results web site. I told him no, after the appraisal sponsor and Lead Appraiser have signed the ADS and submitted it to the SEI, there can be no changes. I then asked him what he wanted to change on the ADS and he said it was the wording of the project descriptions. Apparently they had responded to an RFP that required the bidders have a Maturity Level 3 rating for the type of product development required by the contract. Unfortunately for the client, their appraisal covered a different type of product development and they got downgraded for this reason. There are several lessons to be learned from this situation: 1. appraisals should cover projects that are the core business of the organization and 2. there should be a section in the proposal that explains how the Maturity Level 3 capability and the processes and procedures from an unrelated project will be used on the contract to achieve the same results.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

2008 SEPG Summary

Well, the 2008 SEPG Conference is now a thing of the past. This SEPG was a very informative conference this year. There were many excellent presentations on a variety of topics. Highlights for me were Pat O'Toole's and Herb Weiner's presenation of the ATLAS results for the suggested changes to the High Maturity Process Areas, the keynote speeches on Wednesday by Major General Curtis M. Bedke/Commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory and Karthik and Guha Bala/Vicarious Visions on their use of the Team Software Process (TSP), and the Booz Allen Hamilton presentation on aiding Small Disadvantaged Businesses in achieving Maturity Level 2. Major General Bedke spoke on the increasing importance of software to the Air Force's various applications. And it was a little scary calling up images of Skynet, T2000, and "Judgement Day" since he talked about intelligent robots repairing themselves and learning from their mistakes. The Bala brothers were energetic and fun to listen to. And I was very pleased to see that the gaming industry has matured enough now that they realize the need for discipline in their processes. It apparently only took one bad experience in delivering a game for them to realize that they needed help and TSP was their answer. Their presentation was a great segue after the Air Force as the games they produce include Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, and Spiderman. And of course there was the exhibit hall with several news vendors at the conference this year. The biggest improvement at the 2008 SEPG was the SEI not requiring the attendees to wear the iTag anchors around our necks in order to track attendance at the various sessions. All that you had to do this year was scan a bar code on your badge when you entered a session. And everyone had to revert to the tried and true method of exchanging business cards when you met new people.

Monday, March 17, 2008

2008 SEPG Conference - Measurement and Analysis Tutorials

The 2008 SEPG Conference kicked off today in Tampa, Florida. I was the session moderator for the Measurement and Analysis tutorials: Satisfying Organizational Needs With A Concise Measurment Program and Metrics Based Process Improvement. Both tutorials emphasized the need to tie measures to specific business objectives, to keep the measurement program simple and "parsimonious", and to avoid identifying, collecting, and analyzing measures for every single Process Area in the CMMI. Your measurement program should be built around how you conduct business, not a specific process improvement model. Start small with the easy measures first that people and managers care about. People have to be motivated to use the measures. So you have to be aware of "what is it it for me (WIIFM)" when considering other's motivations. Gain some experience and knowledge from this initial set of measures and then add, modify, and delete measures to grow your measurement program. It all sounds simple and is a common sense approach. Though in my experience, organizations still need some coaching and mentoring in order to correctly focus their attention on specifying meaningful measurements.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mumbai's Dabbawalas

Mumbai's Dabbawalas - Amazing Management Success Story India

From: targetseo, 1 year ago

Mumbai's Dabbawalas - An Entrepreneurial Management Success Story of India - Presentaional Modified by Paavan Solanki, SEO Ahmedabad - One of the Fan of Dabbawals in India.

SlideShare Link

This presentation tells an impressive story. But as an SEI-certified High Maturity Lead Appraiser, I feel compelled to comment on some of the information contained in this presentation. Firstly, slide two makes a statement that this company is CMMI Level 6. This is a meaningless designation. The CMMI only has five Maturity Levels. I do not know what the author means be Level 6. In addition, none of the information provided is indicative of the company's Maturity Level. There is no information provided to indicate that the company has collected and analyzed project and process data to establish Process Performance Baselines and build Process Performance Models, the necessary elements for a High Maturity (Maturity Levels 4 & 5) organization. If you want to see if this company has been appraised and it's resulting Maturity or Capability Level, the official results are contained on the Software Engineering Institute's (SEI's) web site at

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Interpreting the CMMI® Second Edition

Yesterday Auerbach Publications announced that the second edition of Interpreting the CMMI by Margaret Kulpa and Kent Johnson will be debuted next week at the 2008 SEPG Conference in Tampa, Florida. The first edition of this excellent book for implementing the CMMI was released in 2003. The first edition explained to thousands in everyday language the fundamental concepts of the CMMI. Kulpa and Johnson wrote the second edition to cover CMMI® version 1.2 and how to blend different process improvement initiatives. Based on the common sense approach and easy to read first edition, this second edition should be on the bookshelf of every CMMI implementer. You can find out more about this book at Auerbach's site

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What does the CMMI mean by bi-directional traceability?

Bi-directional traceability applies to requirements, design, and implementation and is a way of providing a linkage from the high level requirements to the end product and from the end product back to the high level requirements.