Monday, October 6, 2014

How can we get value from Requirements Development within Agile teams?

WATERFORD, MI. October 6, 2014 – For many, the language used in the CMMI practices just doesn’t seem very “agile.”  But there is a solution.

“I try to adapt my language to local conditions when working with agile teams, and my favorite word tends to be ‘stuff,’” said Jeff Dalton, President of Broadsword.

To help translate the practices in Requirements Development into “stuff that needs to happen,” Dalton suggests that agile teams implement a three-tiered architecture that brings clarity to their requirements process and a cascading “definition of done” that helps ensure that the requirements provide a solid foundation for estimation, design, and development.

Dalton describes the details in the latest episode of “Just the FAQs,” a monthly series written and edited by Dalton and Pat O’Toole that answers frequently asked questions about the CMMI, SCAMPI and process improvement.

To ask questions, offer ideas and provide input, readers are encouraged to contact the authors at and

For more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program, visit

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

CMMI vs. Scrum? NO! CMMI + Scrum

"In this article, Jeff Dalton walks us through a fairly thorough application of CMMI in Scrum settings. He further demonstrates an approach to CMMI that is not only compatible with Scrum, but also uses Scrum and agile thinking to facilitate CMMI! It's not merely a matter of such-and-so Scrum practices demonstrating this-or-that CMMI practice -- that would be both easy and disingenuous. Dalton practices what he preaches and would never lead a company down a path that only solves their performance needs once, leaving them with nothing with which to fend for themselves when circumstances change. Instead, he offers us a delightfully simple and robust architecture that we can use to build processes incrementally and iteratively. How agile!" Hillel Glazer.

Download your copy of this article now, compliments of Cutter Consortium!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead AppraiserCertified 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.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Validation and Verification - What IS the difference?

In the latest edition of the “Just the FAQs” CMMI series, CMMI expert and consultant Pat O’Toole clarifies the misconceptions between Verification and Validation. According to the usual explanation, Verification means “you built it right;” while Validation means that “you built the right thing.”

O’Toole has a different perspective.  He says that, operationally, the usual explanation is not useful. According to O’Toole, the best way to eliminate the confusion between Verification and Validation is to consider who is involved.

“When performing something that smells like V&V, take a look at who is involved in the activity. If it’s just our engineers and testers, then it’s probably a verification activity,” says O’Toole.  “Verification is ensuring the work products meet the requirements.

“On the other hand, if the customer, user, or a customer/user surrogate is involved in a product evaluation activity, this tilts the scale much more heavily toward validation,” he said.

O’Toole provides his insights about verification and validation in the latest edition of the “Just the FAQs” series. “Just the FAQs” is a monthly CMMI series published by Jeff Dalton, President of Broadsword, and Pat O’Toole.  The series provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about the CMMI, SCAMPI and process improvement.

"Just the FAQs" is written and edited by Pat O'Toole and Jeff Dalton.  Please contact the authors at and to ask questions, offer ideas and provide input.

Monday, August 18, 2014

How the CMMI's Generic Practices will save Agile

One of the most important components of project success is identifying and involving the right stakeholders. In the latest edition of the “Just the FAQs” CMMI series, Jeff Dalton, President of Broadsword, addresses stakeholder engagement and why it makes the critical difference.

“The entire premise of “agile” is predicated on strong collaboration, transparency, and, most of all, being engaged,” said Dalton. In the article, he also discusses agile values, CMMI GP 2.7, and using tools such as TeamScore to encourage and track stakeholder involvement. 

Dalton launched the monthly series with Pat O’Toole to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions about the CMMI, SCAMPI and process improvement.

"Just the FAQs" is written and edited by Pat O'Toole and Jeff Dalton.  Please contact the authors at and to ask questions, offer ideas and provide input.

Monday, July 14, 2014

How much bidirectional requirements traceability is enough to satisfy REQM SP1.4, and do we have to include both vertical and horizontal traceability?

[Dear Readers, our good friend Pat O’Toole, CMMI expert and seasoned consultant, is collaborating with us on a new monthly series of CMMI-related posts, "Just the FAQs." Our goal with these posts is to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions about the CMMI, SCAMPI, engineering strategy and software process improvement. This month Pat talks about bidirectional requirements traceability. Take it away, Pat! ~ the CMMI Appraiser]

Requirements Management (REQM) SP1.4, the practice that focuses on bidirectional traceability of requirements, is like the obnoxious sibling that demands to be the center of everyone's attention, to the detriment of that very special child who is much quieter and certainly much better behaved.  In the case of REQM, the well-behaved child is SP1.5 - Ensure Alignment Between Project Work and RequirementsSo let’s pause for a moment and give that angelic child the attention she so rightly deserves…

There are essentially two ways for things to get out of alignment with requirements.  First, since most of us are human, every once in a while we make mistakes. Perhaps the designs/test cases don't cover a requirement or two, and perhaps they include a design element/test case that isn't directly tied to any of the requirements – thereby representing defects of both omission and commission. Typically such issues are detected through peer reviews or some other verification technique.  To rectify such issues, the designs/test cases are simply corrected or otherwise knocked back into alignment with the requirements.

The second case occurs when everything is in glorious alignment with the requirements (cue the harp), but then that blasted requirement change is accepted.  Given the change, something now has to be realigned with this updated set of requirements.

The specific goal supported by these sibling practices is, “Requirements are managed and inconsistencies with project plans and work products are identified.”  That latter half of this goal statement – the bit in bold – is the “glass half empty” view of the SP1.5 practice statement: “Ensure that project plans and work products remain aligned with the requirements.

So here’s the punch line – although SP1.4’s expectation of “bidirectional traceability” gets all the attention and, with its discussion of “horizontal and vertical traceability,” more than its share of angst, it is merely the ENABLER of SP1.5 – the “maintain alignment” practice.  The thinking is that by establishing such traceability, the engineers are much more likely to cover all the requirements in the first place or, if not, to have their peers use the traceability mechanism to uncover errors of omission and commission when reviewing their work products.  In addition, bi-directional traceability enables more efficient analysis of candidate change requests, as well as more effective realignment of any and all affected work products with the new set of requirements.  And THAT’s why the model suggests we implement traceability – it’s simply a tool to help us keep things aligned.

And which project work products should be kept aligned with the requirements?  Absolutely EVERYTHING – after all, if it weren’t for the requirements we wouldn’t have a project!  So the project plan, schedule, issues log, risk list, emails, use cases, prototypes, design elements, code, test cases, deployment plans, etc. etc. should all be targeted at meeting the project requirements.  However, although everything the project team does should be focused squarely on satisfying the requirements, not all of the work products they generate will gain efficiencies by being traceable to them.  Which ones do?  Ah, now THAT depends!

So if you only focus on the obnoxious problem child, you may establish a bi-directional requirements traceability mechanism so intricate and academically beautiful that it warrants a patent, but one that may not best serve its intended purpose.  The engineers, who abhor doing non-value-added, administratively burdensome busy work, may begrudgingly use the thing, but their hearts won’t be in it.

On the other hand, if you encourage the engineers to exercise professional judgment by establishing mechanisms that ensure that the key work products stay aligned with the requirements, they’ll get it, they’ll build it and, more importantly, they’ll USE it!  I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have smart engineers do smart things to help themselves than to force them to do something they don’t want to do just because some model tells them that it’s good for them – whether they believe it or not.  Remember – when it comes to engineers, improvement is best done with them and for them, not to them!

© Copyright 2014: Process Assessment, Consulting & Training and Broadsword Solutions

“Just the FAQs” is written/edited by Pat O’Toole and Jeff Dalton.  Please contact the authors at and to suggest enhancements to their answers, or to provide an alternative response to the question posed.  New questions are also welcomed! 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Software Process and Measurement Program Features Broadsword President

WATERFORD, MI – Jeff Dalton, President of Broadsword Solutions, revealed how a more resilient approach is needed to meet the challenges facing organizations adopting agile methods.  During an interview with Thomas Cagley, host of the Software Process and Measurement Cast (SPaMCAST), Dalton also discussed the importance of values and how frameworks such as the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) can be used to make agile more resilient.

Dalton said that project teams are increasingly adopting agile, while other parts of the organization are running the business in ways that conflict with agile. In addition, large-scale adopters such as the DoD and Federal government are requiring agile for projects without understanding and embracing agile values, methods and techniques. Dalton says that these large scale adopters are driving change that will be detrimental to the future of agile.

Dalton also discussed the impact of values.

“We are seeing agile values being adopted at the team level.  Where they should be adopted is in the C-Suite,” Dalton said.  “They should be adopted by CEOs, CIOs, and CTOs in companies, then driven down throughout the organization so that the culture of the company adopts those values.”

Dalton said there is a type mismatch organizationally between agile and process improvement methods.

“Process improvement methods like CMMI, which are operational in nature, are being driven from the C-Suite and not being driven at the lowest part of the organization where the operational activities take place,” Dalton said.  “This is adding tons of overhead and tons of unneeded activity.  We have to start working with our executive teams to start not on agile, not on CMMI, but on values.  Values drive everything in a company.”

To hear the complete interview, go to SPaMCAST 296.

About Jeff Dalton

Jeff Dalton is Broadsword's President, Certified Lead Appraiser, CMMI Instructor, ScrumMaster and author of "agileCMMI," Broadsword's leading methodology for incremental and iterative process improvement.  He is Chairman of the CMMI Institute's Partner Advisory Board and President of the Great Lakes Software Process Improvement Network (GL-SPIN).  Jeff has been named the Keynote Speaker for the PMI Great Lakes 2013 Symposium.  In 2008, Jeff coined the term Process Debt to describe the crushing over-bearing processes too many companies employ to achieve a CMMI rating.  He is a recipient of the prestigious Software Engineering Institute's SEI Member Award for Outstanding Representative for his work uniting the Agile and CMMI communities together through his popular blog "Ask the CMMI Appraiser."  He holds degrees in Music and Computer Science and builds experimental airplanes in his spare time.  You can reach Jeff at

About Broadsword

Broadsword is a Process Innovation firm that helps engineering and software companies do what they do, better.  You can learn more about Broadsword at

Monday, June 23, 2014

Broadsword Keynote Speakers Offer Critical Insights on Performance Innovation and Process Improvement

Speakers Group helps companies solve performance issues through results-focused presentations and workshops

WATERFORD, MI.  June 24, 2014 -- Broadsword, one of North America's leading engineering and software performance innovation firms, has launched the Broadsword Speakers Group to help companies improve performance, build better products and create high performing teams.

Faced with competitive pressures, quality concerns, and significant operational challenges, companies are seeking innovative ideas to improve performance and increase profitability. Broadsword’s speakers meet that need by sharing information and lessons built on years of real-world experience working with clients in software development, design engineering, aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, and state and federal government.

“Teams want practical, useable ideas they can implement right away,” said Jeff Dalton, President of Broadsword Solutions.  “Theory is great, but we share proven approaches built upon evidence-based models that can help a company quickly transform the way they do their work.  We help them to do what they do, only better.”

Building on their experience working with clients on performance innovation, process improvement and organizational change, Broadsword keynote speakers tailor their presentations to meet the business goals of each company or organization. They strive to create an entertaining experience that is relevant, timely and actionable.

Frequently requested topics include the following:

Agile Resiliency:  How to Scale Software Development with Agile Methods reveals how to strengthen and reinforce Agile values, methods, and techniques in an environment increasingly under pressure to meet the needs of large corporations and the Federal government. 

Values-based Engineering:  How Real Corporate Values Either Make or Break Your Company explores the mismatch that often occurs between corporate values and operational excellence, and explores how implementing proven architecture tools can solve the issue.

Organizational Change Management:  Managing People in an Era of Constant Change reveals the key elements of an organizational change management strategy that will result in long-term, sustainable performance improvement and higher-performing teams.

Dalton leads the roster of Broadsword speakers, and is recognized for his thought leadership in Performance Innovation and Agile software methods.  He is President of Broadsword, conference speaker, author, and management consultant with more than twenty-five years of technology and software process improvement experience.  He is a certified CMMI SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Scrum Master, CMMI Instructor, and Scrum product owner.  


Broadsword is a Performance Innovation firm and the world-leader in using Agile and Lean methods to drive high performance engineering using Broadsword's AgileCMMI methodology and collaborative consulting and coaching solutions.  Broadsword is both a Software Engineering Institute Partner and CMMI Institute Partner.  Working with great clients like Boeing, Chrysler, Compuware, L-3 Communications, and others Broadsword's methods have a proven record of success throughout North America.

For more information about the Broadsword Speakers Group, go to  Contact Broadsword via email at or call 888.715.4423.