Hey, CMMI Appraiser – We’re a start-up software company with 10 FTEs, and, I have to tell you, we love our ability to be agile and turn on a dime if need be. What we DON’T love is seeing these big federal contracts go to large companies that have a CMMI rating. Can a CMMI maturity level for a small business work for us even if our goal is to stay small and agile? ~ Steven L.
Yes, CMMI for the small business that wants to stay small is attainable and a good strategy, particularly if you want help managing your uniqueness in a structured way and achieving a CMMI rating to compete for government contracts.
Now, I know a lot of engineering and software professionals who are new to CMMI will say, “No way!” But it’s true. They just don’t realize that the Model is more akin to a context-driven behavioral model than a process improvement model. Because CMMI is a set of practices that guide you to adopt the behaviors of a great company in the context of YOUR business goals and objectives, the Model will guide your company, Steven, to be the best small, agile software company you can be.
Let’s use an example you’ll be familiar with. I assume you are using retrospectives to take a look at how you could make the next sprint better on your Scrum project. Without knowing anything about CMMI, you’re probably already executing a number of CMMI practices related to collecting and analyzing lessons learned from projects.
This is true because CMMI guides you to get the most out of your lessons learned, but it does not prescribe how those lessons are to be captured. I’ll say that again. CMMI doesn’t tell you HOW to get better at performing retrospectives. In fact, CMMI doesn’t tell you HOW to do anything! It says, “Here’s what great companies have told us that they do.” Your job is to apply these lessons to what you are doing in a way that makes sense within the context of your business.
This goes for every area of the business. Whether applied to your software development, operations, finances, sales or marketing, CMMI asks you to perform every operation in the business one way – YOUR way.
Another example is peer reviews. If you’re performing routine maintenance on proven code, you might use a simple work-flow based approach. But if you’re writing code for a re-entry algorithm on a space vehicle, a Fagan Inspection might make more sense. Both are peer reviews. CMMI provides a clear definition of what you should do to be a great company, regardless of what tasks you are trying to accomplish, and regardless of the size of your business.
It’s interesting to note, Steven, that CMMI adoption is on the rise in the small business community – especially among those that are agile. That’s because both CMMI and Scrum are designed to help you pursue the same business goals. Both are tools to help solve business problems. They help us improve requirements churn and volatility, for example. They help us meet schedule and budget, and they help us perform the work that we do every day. So there’s no reason you can’t adopt CMMI and stay small and agile.
Sign up for the webinar in our popular “Everything You Need to Know” series for more information:
What: CMMI for Extra Small Companies Webinar
When: April 13 @ 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm EDT
See you on the webinar!
Note: large organizations interested in pursuing the benefits of a CMMI adoption are invited to visit our corporate web site at www.broadswordsolutions.com.
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Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.