Sunday, November 29, 2009

Finding a Lead Appraiser

My company needs a very inexpensive Lead Appraiser – where can I find one?

I hate to say this, but you are using the wrong criteria for contracting a Lead Appraiser. When it comes to the CMMI and Lead Appraisers, you get what you pay for. And in point of fact, if you go with the lowest price Lead Appraiser that you can find, it is quite possible that this person is either very inexperienced as a Lead Appraiser or may not have the necessary experience or background to provide credible services. The risk you run is that the SEI may not accept the appraisal results in this situation. Then you have spent the money and may need to repeat everything, which can be a very expensive proposition.

Much better criteria to use when considering to hire a Lead Appraiser include:

  • number of years experience as a Lead Appraiser
  • number of appraisals led (SCAMPI A, B, and C)
  • experience in working with small organizations
  • ability to interpret the CMMI to appropriately fit your organization's needs
  • recommendations/testamonials from clients who have worked with the Lead Appraiser

You should interview the Lead Appraiser. Prepare some questions and scenarios that apply to your organization and learn how they would interpret the CMMI in your context and what they would recommend.

The basic question comes down to why do you want to be appraised? Your internal costs for implementing the CMMI will far outweigh any external costs associated with an SEI-certified Lead Appraiser. You should be implementing the CMMI because there is some business value associated with the CMMI. Lead Appraisers are experts in process improvement. As an analogy, if you are going into the hospital for major surgery, do you go to the lowest price surgeon you can find (possibly someone with questionable credentials) or do you go to a surgeon that has a reputation for quality and success?

Think of it this way. Selecting a Lead Appraiser is a very important decision. There is certainly cost factors as well as risks to consider, and possibly other considerations as well. Therefore, I suggest that you look at the Decision Analysis and Resolution (DAR) Process Area and use the practices described there to select your CMMI services provider.

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