Today we’re talking with Laura Adkins, a Senior Consultant with Broadsword and expert in helping small businesses gain the competitive advantage they need to grow. For businesses with under 25 employees, CMMI for small business once seemed unattainable – but people like Laura are changing that by helping emerging IT and engineering firms gain the same advantages as large organizations, with a new subscription program called CMMIxs. Let’s find out how it works!
Q: Laura, thanks for being with us today. What is CMMIxs?
Laura: CMMIxs is an affordable CMMI subscription program for “extra small” or emerging small businesses that want or need a CMMI rating so they can compete on lucrative government contracts. It’s easy-to-use, flexible and designed to help IT and engineering companies with under 25 FTEs overcome the barriers that are standing in their way, and grow.
Q: What are some of those barriers?
Laura: The biggest thing is having the resources and time to devote to adopting the CMMI. A small company that has only a handful of people typically has a culture where everyone does everything, so pursuing a CMMI rating can seem overwhelming.
Q: How does CMMIxs make it less overwhelming?
Laura: Our response to the challenge is to try to break it down into manageable pieces so it is not too overwhelming. So, if they need to take a slower approach because of resource constraints, that’s no problem. CMMIxs is very flexible. We’re good about defining processes that are appropriate for you. We make sure you get a streamlined CMMI process that doesn’t get too heavy on documentation nor burden you with things that don’t make sense for a small company. We customize a solution that makes sense.
Q: How does CMMIxs help extra small companies budget their time?
Laura: When you sign up for the CMMIxs program, you need to commit to a certain amount of consulting days per month, but the scheduling of those days is completely up to you. The schedule is based on what’s important to you and what you need us to do.
Q: What’s an example of this flexible scheduling approach?
Laura: Virtual workshops – they are an excellent way to get things done in just a day or two. That’s one option we recommend. Also, I sometimes attend clients’ SEPG meetings remotely, so I can review action items, see where they are and if I can help. I encourage them to have a backlog with all of their tasks tracked, which makes it easier to manage. And we review documents, so if you are finishing processes, I ask you to send them to me, and I will review them and provide feedback.
Q: How do you address initial concerns that CMMI is geared toward larger companies?
Laura: We just let folks know that we can support your CMMI adoption no matter how small of a company you are. We’re open to different ways to do it to make you successful. We have a program plan for you, and that includes a plan with releases, so that you know that, first, you’ll tackle one thing, then the next, then the next – and you’ll do this every three months. There are different CMMI maturity levels for small business owners to choose from. Having a schedule and a program plan helps everyone see that even an extra small company can achieve the benefits of CMMI.
Q: In the end, what has been the experience of extra small companies that go through the CMMIxs subscription program?
Laura: They are pleased that they have been able to develop all of their processes with our help. Due to resource constraints, it takes time, but once they have their processes rolled out, they can start getting people to use them.
Q: Has CMMIxs been worthwhile for the clients you’ve worked with?
Laura: Yes, they tell me so. After all, extra small companies want to bid on more business, and having a rating through the CMMIxs program will allow them to do that now.
Q: Laura, what one thing should our readers do to get started?
Laura: They should take the micro self-assessment that is available on our Web site, www.cmmixs.com. That’s where you can find out if your small business will qualify for the CMMIxs program and get feedback for areas to focus on.
Like this blog? Forward to your nearest “extra small” or emerging business owner!
Note: large organizations interested in pursuing the benefits of a CMMI adoption are invited to visit our corporate web site at www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.