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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 firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
"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.
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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.
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.
[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 Requirements. So 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 andinconsistencies 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!
“Just the FAQs” is written/edited by Pat O’Toole and Jeff Dalton. Please contact the authors at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com to suggest enhancements to their answers, or to provide an alternative response to the question posed. New questions are also welcomed!
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
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.