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.

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
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

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

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 and to suggest enhancements to their answers, or to provide an alternative response to the question posed. New questions are also welcomed!