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 pact.otoole@att.net and jeff@broadswordsolutions.com 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 pact.otoole@att.net and jeff@broadswordsolutions.com 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 appraiser@broadswordsolutions.com.

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 www.broadswordsolutions.com

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.  

ABOUT BROADSWORD

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
http://www.BroadswordSolutions.com/Speaking.  Contact Broadsword via email at 
Speakers@BroadswordSolutions.com or call 888.715.4423.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Broadsword Presents Agile Resiliency Webinar

BIRMINGHAM, Mich., June 16, 2014 — Broadsword Solutions is presenting Agile Resiliency -- Scaling Agile so that it Thrives and Survives.  The free Webinar will be held Thursday, June 19, 1-2 p.m.  Register online at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/june-19-2014-webinar-agile-resiliency-scaling-agile-so-that-it-thrives-survives-tickets-11481025055?aff=rss.
In every industry, IT and Software Engineering organizations are embracing agile methods to take advantage of the benefits of incremental and iterative delivery.  Large corporations and the Federal Government are increasingly directing software developers to "be agile," but business practices related to marketing, procurement, project management, and systems definition are anything but.  

These organizations all heavily outweigh software development both in budget and in influence. While more software developers are living in an agile world, the business continues to live in a waterfall.  It's not a conflict that will be easily resolved, but there is an opportunity to take control of the debate.

Agile Resiliency is about strengthening and reinforcing Agile values, methods, and techniques so that it can scale and thrive in this conflicted environment by integrating with the architectural strengths of the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), a proven and widely adopted framework used to deploy a continuous improvement infrastructure.  While the CMMI has been successfully deployed for years in support of more "traditional" engineering projects, it is methodology agnostic, so its strength can also be leveraged to strengthen Agile methods.  Why not embrace both?
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 appraiser@broadswordsolutions.com.

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 www.broadswordsolutions.com.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Are SCAMPI Appraisals REALLY too expensive?

[Dear Readers, for the past several months, our good friend Pat O’Toole, CMMI expert and seasoned consultant, has been collaborating with us on a 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 Jeff reveals whether SCAMPI appraisals are too expensive. Take it away, Jeff! ~ the CMMI Appraiser]

Jeff:  I love a good game of “bunchball.”

I mean, who doesn’t? You know, a dozen little Pele’s chasing a soccer ball down the field trying to score a goal and win one for the team.  Finally, one fast kid breaks out for the big kick, and ’’yippeeee!” the hero saves the day with that single goal of the game. Not bad, but hardly the stuff of league championships.

Meanwhile, far removed from the action, there is always one kid who decides not to chase glory that day but to stay back, just in case the ball were to make its way back down to their end of the field. Call it good coaching, training, or just pure talent, but that kid is going places. He plays his position, and he plays to win.

At the last few CMMI events I have attended there has been a lot of talk about how expensive appraisals have become, and that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE! Stories are told of the thousands of hours of work required to “prepare” for an appraisal, and that, in some cases, the cost far exceeds the benefits. If that’s true, then they’re right – we should do something.

But are some of these organizations just playing bunchball while attempting to win the league championship? Is their difficulty in achieving “goals” a signal that the game is too complex, or is it a signal of their level of capability?

I’m a visual thinker and anyone that has worked with me knows how much I love to draw on a whiteboard. Pictures help me think through an idea that I may not otherwise be able to convey using only words. My artwork won’t be fetching any top bids at Sothebeys, but my absolute favorite drawing is of a cliff with a set of (poorly drawn) stick figures.

One set of stick figures is clawing their way up the cliff, hanging off the edge by their fingernails while yelling “whooo hoooo, we MADE Level Three!”  The other set is standing ON TOP of the cliff, lifting barbells over their head, stretching, and quietly saying to themselves “we ARE Level Three.” Which appraisal do you think was “too expensive?”

The antidote to expensive appraisals is for organizations to actually be performing at the target level before they even start working on them! If a team is spending too much time and money locating evidence of process performance, working on PIIDs, and creating “artifacts” to “fill the gaps,” (the expensive part) then perhaps they’re not quite ready for the appraisal that the boss wants to have by Tuesday. That doesn’t mean they’re not doing great things, it just means they are not quite ready for the league championship.

If a bunchball coach were tasked by a school principal to “win the league championship before the end of fiscal year 2014,” what would he do? Well, he might: 
  • bring in consultants to tell them how they won the last game and teach them that one technique they used
  • hire ringers to kick the ball, QA the team, and serve in important roles (like goalie for instance)
  • have the consultant follow each player around and question every move he makes, “writing him up” in red‐pen on a clipboard if he or she does something wrong
  • lobby the league’s governing body to use referees that are known to be friendly to their team

You get the idea.

The team might actually win some games, but after it was over they would just be the same bunchball team.

On the other hand, a wiser (and braver) coach might:
  • advise the principal that his request was not possible, but you COULD have a winning season this year if we:
    • trained and practiced with the team regularly
    • coached the players to play positions, thereby transforming the team from a bunchball team to a soccer team
    • brought in some expert help to assist the team in improving their game, not just advice on winning the league championship
    • evaluated each player for their skills and put them in the right positions
    • made sure we were getting honest feedback from unbiased referees

In other words, we’ll win when we’re ready to win. And we’ll do it by being a great team.

And that’s the point. Appraisals, like league championships, should be challenging but they don’t have to be really expensive. The CMMI is an international benchmark for great performance and if we want the “stamp” to mean something, we should aspire keep them that way. However, an organization that is ML3 will have little trouble proving that they are, and one that isn’t will have tremendous difficulty (and have tremendous costs) doing the same.

“But what about PIIDs ("Process Implementation Indicator Documents") and document inventories?” asked a new Lead Appraiser at the conference.  “Don’t they take a lot of time and effort to complete?”

Hmmmm…. Do they?

PIIDs and document inventories are interesting indicators of appraisal readiness, and might even be useful sometimes. But an ML2‐worthy organization will demonstrate strong, positive control over their work products (“evidence”) through solid Configuration Management and Data Management behaviors. These behaviors make locating artifacts pretty easy, reducing (or eliminating) the overhead associated with an inventory altogether. And THAT makes appraisals a whole lot less costly.

As I’m fond of saying to prospective clients:  “it’s cheaper to be great than it is to fake it!”

©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 apact.otoole@att.net and jeff@broadswordsolutions.com to suggest enhancements to their answers, or to provide an alternative response to the question posed. New questions are also welcomed!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Jeff Dalton to Speak at Agile Development West Conference

WATERFORD, MI, May 2, 2014 -- Leading performance innovation expert Jeff Dalton, President of Broadsword Solutions, has been selected to speak on "Agile Resiliency" at the Agile Development Conference West. The conference will be held June 1-6 in Las Vegas, NV.

Mr. Dalton will present "Agile Resiliency:  How CMMI Will Make Agile Thrive and Survive." 

Large corporations and the Federal Government are increasingly directing software developers to "be agile," but their business practices related to marketing, procurement, project management, and systems definition are anything but. Mr. Dalton shares how agile resiliency can make the critical difference. Agile resiliency is about strengthening and reinforcing agile values, methods, and techniques so that agile can scale and thrive in this conflicted environment by integrating with the architectural strengths of the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI), a proven and widely adopted framework used to deploy a continuous improvement infrastructure. He shows how to use the CMMI's Generic Practices to scale and strengthen agile values, methods and techniques.

Mr. Dalton is a highly sought-after author, speaker, and performance improvement consultant whose talks on "Agile Resiliency" have been heard by audiences across North America and online.

ABOUT JEFF DALTON

Jeff Dalton is President of Broadsword Solutions Corporation.  As the pioneer of using Agile methods to implement CMMI-based solutions that improve software development and organizational processes, Mr. Dalton is a Certified Lead Appraiser and the author of "AgileCMMI," Broadsword's leading methodology for incremental and iterative process improvement.  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 through his popular blog, "Ask the Ask the CMMI Appraiser."  He holds degrees in Music and Computer Science and builds experimental airplanes in his spare time.  Mr. Dalton can be reached at Appraiser@broadswordsolutions.com.

ABOUT BROADSWORD SOLUTIONS CORPORATION

Broadsword is an SEI Partner, CMMI Institute Partner and Performance Innovation firm that is the world-leader in using Agile and Lean methods to drive high performance engineering using their AgileCMMI methodology and collaborative consulting and coaching solutions. Working with great clients like Rockwell Collins, NASA, Boeing, Chrysler, Compuware and L-3 Communications, Broadsword's methods and success are proven throughout North America and the World.

Broadsword is based in southeastern Michigan and can be reached at www.broadswordsolutions.com, +1 248-341-3367 or info@broadswordsolutions.com .