A starting point for a discussion on marrying Agile methods and CMMI.

SEPG-EUROPE Report… A lot to learn from here…

Munich.  Refreshing!  That’s the word I’d use to summarize what I’ve experienced here this week.  By far, compared to similar conferences in the US, the most noticeable difference between the attendees here and elsewhere is that among the attendees here, they share an earnest desire to use CMMI to improve!  To dig into the model, reach beyond the descriptions of "levels" and really look at what they need to do to improve.  Really, improve.  

Pic of Watts -- KeynoteMuch of the "refreshment" came from the keynotes, actually.  Not that sessions I attended weren’t inconsistent with my observations, but the keynotes contained substance.

Everything from an exposé on policies that really zeroes-in on understanding their role in organizations, to ways in which traditional "need to know what this will cost and when it will be done" can be achieved on agile projects using, of all things, Earned Value and Function Points!

Among the keynotes (and others) were some very impressive explanations of exactly how process improvement (and CMMI, in particular) are necessary strategic assets that enable corporate goals.  How CMMI helps an organization satisfy and demonstrate it complies with external and internal standards.  How CMMI is helping an 1000+ person [yet still entrepreneurial] organization (that started as 13 people in 1999 and continues to grow @ a rate of 40 engineers/month worldwide) establish their organizational level capability to support frequent re-orgs (due to growth), international expansion, adapt new business goals, and introduce new regulatory and compliance standards.

There was even a session by a company who is forced, by contract, to reduce costs (or increase throughput) 10% per year or lose a multi-year multi-million USD contract.  And, of course, they were using CMMI (at ML5!) to do it and they explained how.

I’ve got blog materials for months!

But I’ll leave you with a few gems from Watts Humphrey himself:

  • Requirements ALWAYS change.
  • Time and Schedules are ALWAYS aggressive.
  • Resources will ALWAYS be tight.

These are the realities of technology projects.  You need a process that can address these realities and adapt to change.  A process that expects perfect requirements, plenty of time, and more than enough resources is a process destined to fail.

This, from the man many blame for coming up with "the worst thing that has ever happened to software."

Is it not clear yet folks that it’s not CMMI that’s the problem, just CMMI in the wrong hands, that’s the problem?

SEPG-Europe helped validate for me I’m not nuts.  Here are a few hundred people who really want to make things better.  From my visit at Seimens and my meal with the local Scrum users group, to all the folks I met and heard at the conference.  What it spells is this:  those who take processes seriously are preparing to take business away from those who don’t and keep it for a long time.


My professional passion is to build high performance organizations out of companies motivated to be lean, agile, and achieve world-class results. My best clients are companies who have the courage, leadership, insight, foresight and discipline to be the best places to work, the best value to their customers and the best performing for their shareholders. I take a tough love approach and, frankly, have little patience for executives who *want* these things but expect to achieve them without putting in any effort or making any changes.

One Response to “SEPG-EUROPE Report… A lot to learn from here…”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Is it clear that the problem is with CMMI being in the wrong hands?

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