Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are Level 5 CMMI Process Areas compatible with Agile?


After a quantitatively manage organization, the next objective is an optimizing quantitatively managed organization. An organization that is constantly improving. CMMI level 5 process areas deal with this. Improvement, change, should be done (otherwise, the organization is left behind by others) but it should be managed with care, not to overwhelm the organization.

The first process area is Organizational Innovation and Deployment (OID). Its goals and practices represent a measured way of selecting and deploying improvements. The second process area is called Causal Analysis and Resolution (CAR) and aims at resolving the root causes of defects for ever.

The specific goals and practices for OID are:

SG 1 Select Improvements
SP 1.1 Collect and Analyze Improvement Proposals
SP 1.2 Identify and Analyze Innovations
SP 1.3 Pilot Improvements
SP 1.4 Select Improvements for Deployment
SG 2 Deploy Improvements
SP 2.1 Manage the Deployment
SP 2.3 Plan the Deployment
SP 2.2 Measure Improvement Effects

and for CAR are:

SG 1 Determine Causes of Defects
SP 1.1 Select Defect Data for Analysis
SP 1.2 Analyze Causes
SG 2 Address Causes of Defects
SP 2.1 Implement the Action Proposals
SP 2.2 Evaluate the Effect of Changes
SP 2.3 Record Data


Both of these processes are designed to work in a quantitatively managed organization. CMMI states that if it isn’t quantitatively managed, it would work, but it wouldn’t be as effective. I wondered when I started reading the book if optimization wasn’t left for too late in CMMI. In one side, how would you optimize if you can’t measure? On the other, my experience with Agile is that optimization comes from the very first moments, at the standup and in the retrospective meetings where opportunities for improvement are detected. Of course all these optimizations are really subjective, as the improvement they provide can’t really be measured.

Another point that I wanted to make is that CMMI mentions that everyone should be empowered to propose optimizations. This goes very much in line with the lean approach to optimization.


I didn’t see any point of incompatibility in these areas. Having a framework in the organization to do Kaizen is very important for the organization as it allows to optimize with the organization’s objectives (i.e. with everyone aligned) , it allows to do it in an orderly fashion and it allows to really know what is been optimized and how much.

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