The story goes like this. There’s this thing, called CMMI appraisal. It’s a long process of assessment that software development companies undergo to prove they’re serious about their business, document things thoroughly, and have well established processes for everything from ordering printer paper to delivering huge software projects to their clients. It’s how you prove that you’re a real Capable and Mature operation at all stages of development process.
Our team (and especially our CEO) wanted this appraisal.
And now we’ve got it.
Of course, it’s not the end of the story. I am so eager to tell everyone about this struggle. Believe me, you won’t find that many true stories about CMMI appraisal. So sharing it would mean I care about other companies that are seeking this information. And I really do.
Now, closer to how you and your team will go through each and every circle of hell until your company reaches the desired level of capability and maturity in your development processes.
Honestly face the facts
Do you need this CMMI appraisal at all? Is your company really capable and mature enough to prove it? Do you document every project? Is everything legit in your business?
If you answered “yes” to all of the questions — sorry, but you’re so naive. We also thought everything works like a Swiss clock in our company. We believed in unicorns back then too. If you’re the CEO of a software development company, or a project manager, or a business development manager, like I am, and you want to go through a CMMI appraisal, I advise you to drop off everything you know about your company. Be prepared to learn the hardcore truth about how business and processes should be really done.
Meet your appraisal manager
When you realized you know nothing about CMMI (even after weeks of studying what this appraisal is about) you will start panicking. And then praying. At this point, you’ll want to stop reading hundreds of sophisticated CMMI blog posts (#SelfAwareness), and just wholeheartedly welcome somebody alive and breathing to explain what you have to do in simple words.
This person is an official expert from the CMMI Institute, who will assess whether your company is ready for examination or not. This person will answer all your questions (which you will probably have thousands of by that time) and generally help you to get through the whole process.
There are 5 levels of Capability and Maturity of the business. The appraisal of the 5th level is the hardest to get. It requires real proof of the most automated, legitimate, and transparent software development process you can only imagine. When you find this out, you assume that you’re somewhat 2nd or 3rd’ish level. When the appraisal manager says your business is definitely on the third level, you are full of joy, you can’t believe everything is so fine and dandy in your company. But then, like with chocolates, you start to crave for more than you’re capable of. Be careful and chill. You’re not getting appraised at the higher level than your company is capable of complying to.
Pull yourself together and deal with the pain
I’m talking about the hardest part here. You accepted the truth that right now you’re at the 3d level of maturity. Your software development team works just fine. They deliver everything within the deadlines, paying much attention to the clients’ desires and product quality. And then…oops, turns out somebody from your team forgot to create a task for the backend developer, which was successfully completed on Friday 13th a couple of months ago. There are results but there’s no task. Suddenly, your company doesn’t have the appraisal. What is this all about?
Everything has to be transparent. Everything has to be documented.
Diligently documented processes are the only way to be appraised. If you forgot to write something down — you have no proof that it’s done. Gather your team in the meeting room. Tell them about the absolute, non-negotiable necessity to pay attention to the thorough documentation of tasks, processes, and communication.
During this long appraisal process (which can take up to a year of your life), be prepared to welcome slight changes in your office. You will understand once you go through this. As it happens, you can observe symptoms like drinking thousands of cups of coffee, working long nights, giggling for no reason, and screaming “I can’t do this anymore!” every two hours. After this whole thing finishes and you are finally appraised, prepare to throw a party.
Talking seriously, there are changes, really. And they are not that bad. You team gets closer, and becomes a so-called family during CMMI appraisal. You come up with clever ideas on how to improve your business and become more goal-oriented and responsible.
I know, at this point, you wonder whether this suffering is worth it. Yes. CMMI is about running your business smartly. Our team not only managed to clean up our documents. We’ve learned a lot about strategizing, problem-solving, and running an effective business. We became more understanding, goal-oriented, and quality-obsessed. We also had a chance to finally sit and talk properly about all the failures and the pains of our management; about the desired results and realistic ways of achieving them. The most important factor: now we have the habit to document literally everything we do hardwired into our brains. Our clients adore this because they enjoy things being clear and transparent.
No matter how big or small your business is. If you are a software development company that wants to bring management processes to the next level — CMMI is a great challenge to overcome. It’s not "easy peasy lemon squeezy" but it's totally worth it.
The comics is created by and belongs to the QArea team.