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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Problems Not Solved by CMMI nor Agile

This article is extension of ours previous articles for CMMI and Aglie methodologies. You can check them by choosing CMMI and Agile from Categories/Menu.

Part One of each CMMI model describes three aspects of development projects as (1) processes, (2) technology, and (3) people. CMMI makes no secret that it focuses on processes.

Meanwhile, Agile methods clearly focus on people and allow people to determine technology and processes. Regardless of the focus of CMMI or Agile, neither can entirely prevent simple human error, departure of key personnel, impact of incompetent personnel, active or passive insubordination, or deliberate sabotage. Neither can prevent the effect of an employee’s personal life on his or her job performance. Each body of knowledge can have mechanisms to catch and manage such matters, but neither can prevent them any more than either can prevent the local economy from creating a scarcity of qualified employees.

Most organizations have experienced ill-fitting employees and the corresponding challenges in placing them or keeping them employed or happy. Most organizations have had to deal with employee losses, loss of project funding, evaporation of technology resources or suppliers, supply and demand in the marketplace, premature obsolescence of core architectural components, and other issues beyond their immediate control.

While derived and adapted abilities can positively influence the non-development aspects of product and service development, there are many aspects to development that neither CMMI nor Agile, as a first tier implementation, are meant to affect. The conclusion here is that neither CMMI nor Agile are panaceas to all that may hinder development.

Perhaps simply a special guidebook for appraising Agile organizational units or projects or a set of Agile alternative practices associated with CMMI goals accompanied by an overview of Agile values and practices would prove useful.

Fundamentally, misuse is a problem for both CMMI and Agile. One of the original signatories of the Agile Manifesto recently wrote that he was hired to perform due diligence by a venture capital firm that had decided to invest only in companies practicing Agile methods. He found that of the companies he visited and examined, only three percent of those claiming to use Agile methods were actually doing so. (Whether another signatory would judge a similar percent is of course a different, though related issue.)

One of many forms of misuse includes aspects of practice introduction entirely unrelated to either Agile or CMMI. Introducing new practices poorly will likely result in failed implementations regardless of what is being introduced. During a panel session on Agile at SEPG 2006, an audience member asked the panel about an Agile implementation failure at his company. The context of the question was that the adoption of Agile was an executive edict with unrealistic expectations of return on investment, disconnected goals, absent the Agile principles, and devoid of the cultural necessities of long-term change success.. This situation was an organizational behavior matter that neither CMMI nor Agile could immediately resolve.

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