Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

CMMI Institute to Help Companies around the World Elevate Organizational Performance

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Delivers Process Improvement Frameworks with Proven Business Results

Entinex is a proud partner of the CMMI Institute. We have been using CMMI and its predecessors to help elevate performance for over 16 years and have seen the value of the models to deliver measurable business results for our clients. We look forward to working with the CMMI Institute to extend the reach of the CMMI frameworks to enable individuals and organizations to reach their goals.

Our Founder, CEO, and Performance Jedi, Hillel Glazer continues to be the pathfinder for bringing CMMI, lean and agile practices together. He furthers his involvement by playing a critical role in helping the CMMI Institute formulate its strategies and carry out several important projects, including providing important input to the success of their SEPG conferences and foundational material for CMMI’s product suite in the agile market.

(Also, see this article on CMMI in SD Times.)

November 20, 2013 09:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
PITTSBURGH–The CMMI Institute announced today its strategy to extend the reach of the CMMI model to enable businesses of every size in every industry to elevate performance and to provide tools that equip CMMI practitioners to begin and to grow their journey with CMMI.

The CMMI Institute, established by Carnegie Mellon University, is home to the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), a gold standard of excellence in software and systems development. The Institute will continue to help this market to solve business problems while advancing the use of the model to new industry sectors around the world.

CMMI is used by some of the world’s most admired and innovative organizations, including Samsung, Accenture, Proctor & Gamble, and Siemens. CMMI adoption has been a powerful differentiator for businesses and a catalyst for economic growth in regions that invest in its broad adoption.

“To compete in the global market, leaders must build organizations that can consistently deliver quality and value in products and services,” said Kirk Botula, CEO of CMMI Institute. “The CMMI Institute enables organizations committed to excellence to achieve measurable results in the facets of their business that matter most to their goals. CMMI provides a framework of practices that can help organizations to identify and address key challenges to improve performance and the bottom line. We all know work is not the way it is supposed to be—CMMI helps make it better.”

The CMMI model was developed at Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute (SEI) through collaboration of government, industry, and academia to help the Department of Defense and its contractors like Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing improve their software engineering capabilities. Widely trusted as a mark of reliability, many organizations require CMMI adoption as a pre-requisite for bidding on contracts.

Thousands of companies across multiple industry sectors in 94 countries have adopted its practices to elevate performance and have been appraised for capability and maturity using CMMI methods. The CMMI product suite includes product development, service delivery, procurement, and staff management—making it a worthwhile investment for any business. Carnegie Mellon University founded the CMMI Institute in order extend the benefits of CMMI beyond software and systems engineering to any product or service company regardless of size or industry.

KK Raman, Partner Business Excellence, KPMG India says, "Carnegie Mellon is a pioneer in developing best practices and transitioning them to industry, and this is reflected in the global adoption of the CMMI. KPMG is one of the premier organizations around the world with over a decade long partnership with CMU. We help use the CMMI Institute product suite—frameworks, training, certifications, and appraisal methods—to achieve organizational goals by enhancing processes."

Extending the Benefits of CMMI

The global adoption of CMMI is supported through a vast network of partners who guide organizations in the successful adoption of the CMMI models. As part of today’s news, CMMI Institute is advancing the practice of CMMI with an online self-assessment tool as well as new professional credentials for practitioners.

  • CMMI Self-Assessment Tool: A new online tool that allows organizations to begin their journey of elevating performance as well as to diagnose their existing implementation by assessing the current state of their organization. By answering a brief set of questions, users will gain critical insights that provide an analysis of an organization’s strengths and weaknesses as well as solutions to improve the capability of their organization.
  • CMMI Associate and CMMI Professional Certification: The CMMI Institute will be offering certifications to help individuals translate their experience with CMMI into professional development opportunities. CMMI Associate and CMMI Professional Certifications will provide confirmation of an individual’s knowledge of basic and advanced concepts in CMMI and demonstrate to current and prospective employers they are dedicated to excellence and have valuable skills to help elevate organizational performance.

"As a professional who uses CMMI daily in my work, I am committed to advancing my understanding of the models and to helping my clients and my organization position themselves to successfully meet their goals. The practitioner credentials will not only provide a clear path for my growth, it will also help me to communicate and validate my skills to my clients as well as my organization," said Capri Dye of Hubbert Systems Consulting, Inc.

The CMMI Self-Assessment Tool and Practitioner Certifications will be available in early 2014.

About CMMI Institute

The CMMI Institute, a subsidiary of Carnegie Mellon University, is dedicated to elevating organizational performance through best-in-class solutions to real-world challenges. The Institute is the home of the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) for Development, Services, and Acquisition; and the People Capability Maturity Model which are process improvement models that create high-performance, high-maturity cultures. The models are used in thousands of organizations worldwide to deliver business results that serve as differentiators in the global market.

About Entinex

Entinex, Inc. is an aerospace engineering firm bringing the same skills and critical thinking used every day in aerospace to solve complex business problems. The creative, technical, and audacious characteristics of aerospace are leveraged to create elegant, inspiring, and break-through solutions to real business challenges to companies throughout the world in many fields and industries. The company’s approaches see through hairy, complex business problems with x-ray-vision-like clarity and accuracy and designs, explains and implements solutions with amazingly powerful yet easy-to-apply simplicity.

Maximizing Travel Productivity (place-holder)

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

The instigation for this post comes from too many social media nodes that limit character length. So really, this post is a landing page directed from several other places. You might have reached here by other means, which is *great* and THANKS! The content is for everyone.

In looking back on my recent work-related travels, and in speaking with friends and colleagues about their travels, I realized that I have been losing out on opportunities to be far more productive when I’m on the road.

Specifically, to take advantage of being in a new/different-than-normal locale and to schedule speaking opportunities and meetings that I ordinarily wouldn’t be able to carry out simply for being in the wrong part of the world most of the time.

I got a sense of that last June, but it was thanks to the proactive efforts of a colleague, and, I failed to pick up the clue phone. Last month I took a stab at reversing that pattern and found it very easy to do and rewarding. Now, I’m looking ahead and hoping to pick-up more of the same along similar lines.

So, with this in mind, I’m listing my upcoming farther-than-day-trip travel events and I invite readers to contact me if I’ll be near enough to you such that we can arrange for me to drop in to talk all-things-CMMI-and-Agile. Whether it’s a ‘formal’ speaking or teaching situation or just a meeting over coffee (or beer) (or a white-board) to chat about specific challenges.

If I’m already out and about, it’s great to be able to “get local”. I really enjoy digging into everyday challenges with different crowds. That’s what I’m using in this post as a measure of ‘productivity’. Come to think of it, isn’t this like release planning mixed with process improvement at the personal travel level? Where’d *that* idea come from?! ;-)

Upcoming Travel (and level of flexibility):
22-26 March: San Jose, CA, USA (firm)
27-30 April: London, England, UK (mostly firm)
07-13 June: Prague, Czech Republic (fluid)

So if you are in or near any of these areas, and would like to get together (or have me drop in) let me know.

NUTs, GUTs, Hours and Days. They’re all AUTs and should be treated as such!

Monday, September 8th, 2008

NUTs:: Nebulous Units of Time image

GUTs:: General Units of Time

AUTs:: Arbitrary Units of Time

So much emphasis is placed on time and estimates in planning development work. In reality, even hours, days, and weeks are nothing more than arbitrary measures.

To be clear, time as we typically account for it, is an important component of planning and estimating. But, as are many other aspects of development (and life in general?), are open to several interpretations, and, when taken literally, can result in undesired consequences.

Let’s face it, in the world of development, estimates have lost their original dictionary meaning. I, for one (and I doubt I’m alone), believe this to be unfortunate. Estimates were never meant to be locked-in forever. They were meant to be a guide to making the next set of plans, then moved forward to make the set of plans after that, and so forth. But when estimates started to be used as the basis for long-term budgets, they lost their original definition and took on the expectation of being accurate.

(You can see how this lead to the ideal that to improve estimates, requirements needed to be more, more, more of everything about them.)

Everyone knows that estimates are frequently largely fiction. That’s true of even the most capable and mature organizations. (In fairness, that comment applies when experienced organizations are trying something completely new. In those cases, the new aspects of the effort have low confidence in estimates and the common aspects of the effort would have higher confidence in estimates.)

However, even when not attempting to estimate “the whole thing”, when projects are only trying to estimate a single user story, organizations get very skittish about making any commitments to estimates. This is often a symptom of placing a high premium on the perceived value of the time. In other words, a “day” = a “day” and a “week” = a “week”, just as we’d count time between now and our next vacation.

As a result of this reluctance to ascribe estimates due, in part, to the automatic psychology attributed to the significance and meaning of the number, and in part due to the concern of being held to them, the notion of “Story Points” (look here and here) came about. Story points offers a less concrete, more relativistic, and seemingly more natural way of estimating.

Story points allows estimation based on the relative perceived effort required to complete one user story as compared to other stories. This story takes longer than that story, and so on. This eliminates the natural tendency to put undue emphasis on the number and provides a means of filling a time-box with a number that can be later compared to how much work was actually completed in that time-box.

This approach easily lends itself to tracking story points per iteration, which is one way to measure “velocity”. With the velocity value, the total story points of the project, and the length of the iterations, one can project how many iterations, and thus, how much time, before a project is likely to be completed.

There’s one (maybe more, but only one that we’ll look at here) challenge with story points: as beneficial as they are at eliminating the many “psychological” connections to time that are associated with using “time”, they’re also not very natural to humans. Even those experienced with using story points have learned that the estimates aren’t consistent, story point estimates from iteration to iteration aren’t stable or predictable, and, when required to plan for new, or large, or long-term, or complex situations, points from previous projects aren’t much help and don’t satisfy many organization’s needs for budgeting.

Nonetheless, I still like the idea of story points as a teaching tool and here’s why. It helps introduce the idea that estimates, whether in points or hours, or days, or whatever, are supposed to be meant for tracking progress, not setting expectations that are to be written in stone.

This is especially true when taking a time-boxed (and hopefully incremental and iterative) approach to development. The purpose of the estimate is to see how much can get done in the available allotted time and then throughout that time to check to see how much progress is being made, make adjustments to the expectations, and then at the end of that box of time to see how much was actually done.

In other words, the estimate of a task’s effort should be used as a measure of productivity, not as a measure of accuracy.

Throughout and at the end of the time-box, it is valuable to take note of the differences between estimated and achieved productivity so that future estimates can be somewhat more accurate, but only so that productivity can be more predictable. Clearly, as productivity predictions become more accurate, then budgeting becomes more accurate.

When estimates are used for measures of productivity, it doesn’t matter how much time, in physical clock terms, is being ascribed to the tasks. The number becomes as arbitrary as the notion of time itself. Time is merely the “distance between events”. We’re conditioned to be familiar with time as being discrete and concrete. So, when we use “time” to describe estimates, we’re drawn to compete against the clock to achieve the task within the allotted time. An alternative is to complete as much of the task as we can within the time-box without killing ourselves, then looking back at how much “time” it took to get as far as we got and to use that lesson to better understand our productivity.

Another way to look at it is that “time” allocated to a task isn’t really physical “clock” time. It’s just a way of guessing a rough idea of how much work can get done in the boxed time. As it is, it’s highly unusual for physical clock time to align itself nicely with how much work is actually done in that span of time. But, when it is understood that the estimate of time is nothing more than a guess used to fill-up a time-box-full of tasks, time as applied to estimates might just as well be an arbitrary number.

The only way to get a sense of “estimated time” to align with “clock time” is, well, over time and experience. This time and experience on the project level can take a while to attain. One way to short-cut the wait is with SEI’s Personal Software Process (PSP), which works surprisingly well in development of other work, not just software. At the team level, there’s the TSP, which builds on the PSP so that personal productivity can be used collectively with the overall productivity of the team.

However, this post isn’t a commercial for TSP/PSP. The point to this post is that time associated with the clock comes more naturally to humans, and that using time as a measure of productivity makes estimates more valuable. When estimating a task, worry less about estimating correctly. When working on the task, worry less about getting it done within the estimate. Worry more about checking your progress against the estimate and making adjustments accordingly throughout and at the end of the iteration.

Keep in mind, whether used for productivity or budgeting, organizations who expect the estimate to stay precise throughout the project are deceiving themselves. Organizations who use the 1st estimate as the basis for the entire project are even more deluded. Organizations who are being given the freedom and flexibility to pursue incremental and iterative development often also have the luxury of not being held to providing imaginary long-term budgets and thus using estimates iteration by iteration is acceptable to their leadership.

Used as a measure of progress and productivity, estimates have much more power and add much more value than when used for long-term budgeting. Within a few iterations, estimation, budgeting, productivity and predictability will converge so that clock time and estimated time will be more meaningful to everyone involved.

For what it’s worth: there nothing about the above that runs contrary to CMMI. Not.One.Thing.