Archive for CMMI

Continuously mowing better at Toyota

Toyota turned into a lawn mower 

In a fine article on “The Toyota way”, Howard Artrip, a Toyota manager in the assembly area examplifies his habit of constant improvement:

“When I’m mowing the grass, I’m thinking about the best way to do it. I’m trying different turns to see if I can do it faster.”

This constant drive to do things better and smarter is what distinguishes the best workers at the best companies.

Constant improvement is what happens when being on level 5 of CMMI.  Reaching level 5 means you must pass levels 2, 3 and 4. For all of these levels CMMI sets specific goals, and that seems to differ from the Toyota way.

As John Shook (“a widely regarded consultant on how to use Toyota’s ideas at other companies”) states in the article, “… Managers keep trying to make their management objectives. They’re moving forward, they’re improving, and they’re looking for a plateau. As long as you’re looking for that plateau,it seems like a constant struggle. It’s difficult. If you’re looking for a plateau, you’re going to be frustrated. There is no ‘solution.'”

“Once you realize that it’s the process itself–that you’re not seeking a plateau–you can relax. Doing the task and doing the task better become one and the same thing,” Shook says. “This is what it means to come to work.”


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how – not – to make a process work for you

Anti patternGary Pollice (“I’m the one with the head”) publised an interesting article on anti-patterns for process adoption in the Rational Edge.

At Getronics in the Netherlands we’re in the middle of adopting our process. We first documented our RUP-based “Getronics Development Process” using IBM Rational Method Composer. We documented some additions and our Getronics best practices and were appraised at CMMI level 2 last December. Now we’re rolling out the process and are facing two views on the way to go ahead.

One group wants to keep moving and go for CMMI level 3 right on. An other group wants to first take all our energy to get level 2 rolled out first, before moving on.

Reading the article from Gary, I would say we’re hitting the “Take all the medicine at once” anti-pattern if we try to move on to level 3 right away. In short, the antipattern says process changes take time, so it is better not to do everything all at once, but to do small process improvements at a time. For our situation, that would mean it is wise to roll out level 2 first!

BookMore anti-patterns can be found in Organizational Patterns of Agile Software Development. Gary Pollice did a review of the book, another review is at

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The Capability Im-Maturity Model (CIMM)

The CMM gives a scale to indicate the software engineering capability in an organization, ranging from chaos at level 1 to fully defined, managed and optimized processes at level 5.

Level 1 is the default level you get, but sometimes you wonder whether an organization is worth this default …

In CIMM, the Capability Im-Maturity Model, you can get lower …

  • 0   : Negligent
  • -1 : Obstructive
  • -2 : Contemptuous
  • -3 : Undermining

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CMMI Horror Stories

"Does CMMI benefit the customer? Several recent program failures from organizations claiming high maturity levels have caused some to doubt whether CMMI improves the chances of a successful project. Is CMMI flawed? Is the staged representation bad? Or is there a more fundamental explanation?"

Rick Hefner presented CMMI Horror Stories this year on the SEPG 2006 (annual conference on Software and Systems process) and was one of the presenters that got top ratings from attendees. The presentation is available as PDF.

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How are your analysts doing?

Now that's timing! I started this week at my new job at Getronics PinkRoccade and will divide my time between doing regular projects and working on Software Engineering Process Improvement. We'll define the processes, set up measurement and determine  how succesful we are and how we can become even better.

Just at the same time Marcus decided to post about a related subject. 

He concluded that you can measure the success of business analysts on three basic areas:

  • Quality (how good are your deliverables)
  • Time (how well do you meet expectations)
  • Resources (e.g. do you facilitate understanding across the business and IT teams)

Marcus references several of his earlier posts.

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Corporate Usability Maturity

From the "king of usability" Jabob Nielsen (who uses the title "User Advocate") two posts describing the way organizations progress through a sequence of stages as their usability processes evolve and mature. Because the sequence is fairly universal, you can match your own organization with the following descriptions to see what your next stage is likely to be.

Stages 1-4:

Stage 1: Hostility Toward Usability
Stage 2: Developer-Centered Usability
Stage 3: Skunkworks Usability
Stage 4: Dedicated Usability Budget

Stages 5-8:

Stage 5: Managed Usability
Stage 6: Systematic Usability Process
Stage 7: Integrated User-Centered Design
Stage 8: User-Driven Corporation

Companies can gradually move from one stage to another (you can't skip stages, just like the CMM). Nielsen gives estimates for the time needed to move up.

I wonder why Nielsen decided to go for eight stages and whether he has a mapping to the CMM (of CMMI) levels. Anyone?

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