24 October 2006

A nice bit of recognition.

Believe it or not, a process geek who actually has the social skills to market a business and play in the social networking space...

Taken directly from the GBTC Press Release and Web Site:


BALTIMORE, MD (10/19/06) --- Hillel Glazer, Founder and CEO of Baltimore technology strategy company Entinex, is the winner of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council's (GBTC) annual Connector Award.

Presented during last night's annual TechNite celebration, the Connector Award is presented to the GBTC member who, for lack of a better term, "gets it."

"Connectors are more than volunteers. They connect people to people, people to programs, and get others involved. They bring clients, and even prospects, to GBTC programs, connecting them to others in the community. And in doing so, they make our community a better place in which to live and work because they understand the power of connecting," explains GBTC Executive Director Steve Kozak.

Kozak notes that Glazer was an obvious choice because "Hillel not only knows everyone, everyone knows him and he understands what each company does and how they are different."

"Hillel is vested in the concept of connecting people for the benefit of their businesses and knows that putting the right people together for the right reasons makes better business for everyone, even if you aren't directly compensated," Kozak continues.

As the leader of one of the GBTC four business networking groups, Glazer is characterized by group members as "unselfish, insightful, and always willing to help by providing a great idea or the name of someone you should call."

A huge proponent of process-centered management methodologies, Glazer founded Entinex to help small-to-medium sized businesses make the right choices about technology while avoiding costly mistakes and failures. A SCAMPI Lead Appraiser and Introduction to CMMI instructor, Glazer possesses a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and a Master of Science in Technology Management.

Recipients of the Connector Award are nominated and selected by members of the GBTC. Previous winners include business growth consultant Art Jacoby, G.1440 Founder and President Larry Fiorino, and Michael Teitelbaum, President of TruePresence.

The Connector Award is sponsored by the Community Colleges of Maryland. Together, Anne Arundel Community College, The Community College of Baltimore County, and Howard Community College enroll more than 138,000 students in credit or continuing education programs every year, effectively serving the adults who are now, or will become, the technology workforce of the Greater Baltimore region.

Nearly 1,000 executive and business leaders attended this year's TechNite, Greater Baltimore's premier night out for the business and technology communities.

17 October 2006

Templates towards CMMI

The antithesis of agile CMMI

A recent prospect of mine chose to hire a "competitor" whose value proposition is that they sell templates for performing practices of CMMI. Then, the firm comes in from time to time and audits how well the templates were completed.

That's all well & good from a CMMI appraisal perspective, as far as "the letter of the law" is concerned, but on many planes of existence, it not only runs entirely opposite of an agile approach (which I'll get into shortly), but it hardly demonstrates process improvement!

What this sets-up is the following scenario:

Before Templates: Unknown management practices, and unknown development practices. Status quo.

After Templates: Unknown management practices, unknown development practices, PLUS a new set of (likely ill-fitting) unfamiliar process improvement practices -- completely unconnected to, disassociated from and lacking interface controls to operate with their existing practices -- OH WAIT! They never bothered to figure these out!

At lower maturity levels (ML 2, specifically), it's not hard to skate by the appraisal using nothing more than very basic (even garden-variety) templates that channel enough data onto 'paper' to be used as evidence that there is a process and that it was followed. Notice I didn't say that there's process improvement going on, I just said that according to the rules of the appraisal, one could have enough template coverage -- strictly speaking -- to make it through the appraisal.

However, when venturing into ML 3 territory and above, this approach simply fails to produce the kind of indicators that tell an appraiser that a process improvement system is in place. Why? Because at ML 3 and beyond, the evidence needed isn't that there's any ol' process in place, the evidence needed is that there's an actual process improvement system in place. Doing that through *someone else's* templates is just simply too painful to be practical.

But let's not get into a discussion on the viability of getting a Maturity Level 2 rating via store-bought templates. The subject here is whether or not such an approach is even a smart thing to do. It's not and here's why:

Most templates written by other organizations and used by software developers to "comply" with CMMI do not naturally reflect the work being done by the developers. Sometimes there are some lucky shots, but usually, the templates do business one way, and the company does business in another. This sets up a situation where developers and project managers need to take a break from being productive and work on the production of artifacts. As often, the templates may require the production of some additional piece of documentation otherwise useless to the organization's way of getting things done (requirements traceability matrices come to mind).

For these reasons alone -- though simple to describe, they're quite significant -- using off-the-shelf templates towards CMMI ratings is strongly discouraged for true process improvement. However, allow me to shed some light on a fact that few companies lax enough to take this route will know (until it's too late):

During the appraisal the lead appraiser might ask you for additional evidence than what was presented. During interviews, the appraisal team might ask questions that don't come from the templates and don't sound like CMMI. This isn't being "tricky" or trying to "trip up" the company, it's just being thorough in investigating the actual maturity of the organization's capability. You see, the appraisal is about hearing, reading, and in some respects telling the tale of the company's process story. If the story doesn't hold together, it brings into question the comany's true ability to affect process improvement. Of course, if the people who sold you the templates are the ones doing the appraisal, that's a whole 'nuther ball of rubberbands.

And really, exactly how "mature" is an organization's process capability anyway if all it did was fill out templates that have nothing to do with how they actually do work, let alone improve their processes?

As for agile, I'm pretty sure readers of this blog don't need me to point out just how non-agile this approach is -- whether for development, or CMMI.