Archive for the ‘Agile’ Category


Two posts on Agile and CMMI

September 24, 2014

Two different posts recently on the combination of Agile and CMMI:

1. Can you use CMMI and Agile together efficiently? See for my take on how they complete each other (with evidence of success)

2. Can you use Agile principles for Process improvement? See for the slides on a recent presentation on this topic.



Performance Management 101

March 28, 2014

I have recently started a series of short articles on the generic topic of “Getting Started 101” which talks about the basic principles which need to be in place when starting a programme to improve your organizational productivity, performance or quality. These are posted on my blog at

Two articles have been published so far. The first article is about writing a policy that will encourage change and the right attitude and not just publishing requirements to follow standard practices. It can be found at The second article discusses selecting an effective approach to your project management, and is comparing the approaches recommended by the theories of lean management, agile software development and CMMI-style process based activities; this article is found at

Another article should be coming soon on the topic of measuring quality and performance.


The Q:PIT Newsletter

October 7, 2013

The latest newsletter, written at the SEPG conference (North America) can be found here:


The Sweet Smell of Success

November 9, 2012

It is so rewarding when one gets the opportunity to encounter real maturity and growth. When I first visited this company a little over two years ago, it was a typical organization, seeking to have a CMMI “certification” in order to be able to advertise their success. They had made the usual mistakes, taking short-cuts in the wrong places, trying to force through an approach that did not really correspond to the company’s culture or their business objectives.

Today, I am faced with a company that is well on its way to a successful maturity level 4. Engineers are telling me how useful quality assurance is, people at every level of the organization can explain how an intelligent use of measurements has made them more productive, has increased the quality of the products and services they deliver to their customers. Staff are pleased with the way things have progressed, particularly over the past year. The expansion of the company has been facilitated by this improvement, as they have learned that rather than using CMMI to attract customers, it is more interesting to use quality to keep them.

Measurements and trends of cost of quality and numbers of defects are progressing beautifully. Of course, all is not perfect, but progress is accelerating in all aspects. They are demonstrating how an international organization can combine a successful, flexible and cost efficient approach through a combination of Agile, CMMI and Prince2.

Over the past few years, I  have given them some training, I have tried – as is my wont – to educate rather than to instruct them – and so, I feel I can take some pride in this beautiful success story, but they did it. They understood the principles, they changed the culture, they used training and well placed measurement. They understood that the principles behind models and standards are focused on communication, learning and sharing – and not (as many would have you believe) on bureaucracy and pointless paperwork.

I am proud of this company, and I am willing to grab my little bit of responsibility in their success. But, more than anything, I need to say: congratulations, ISDC! Keep it up.


Orchestrated Knowledge

April 3, 2011

It seems that the recession is (finally) receding into the past and businesses are trying to restart being active – that is good news, indeed. During the recession, when business was at its slowest, organizations should have made the best to plan for the recovery and implement strong training and improvement activities. Most were concerned about the loss of income, so don’t worry, you were not the only one that decided to cut costs and wait and not invest in the recovery…
Possibly one of the reasons that so many organizations hesitate is because of the risk related to working with consultants – you know the story: a consultant is someone who takes your watch and gives you the time. There is truth in that statement, however, I am glad to announce the creation of “Orchestrated Knowledge” (or OK for short), a cooperative of consultants, advisors, trainers who are committed to ethical consulting – guaranteed. Orchestrated Knowledge, which held its first event last month in London, represents a new approach to providing business and public sector organisations with the accumulated wisdom and insight to achieve real and sustainable improvement.
OK partners are committed to the rapid and permanent transfer of knowledge and capability with a focus on maximizing the value delivered to your organisational stakeholders.

OK founding partners include:

    Tom GILB

Tom Gilb is a systems engineer who invented the term “software metrics”. He has long been a vigorous and articulate campaigner for better engineering rigour in software. He is the author of many books on the subject.
He works in partnership with his son Kai Gilb, helping multinational clients improve their organizations and methods by using “evolutionary systems delivery” (Evo). He has guest lectured at universities all over UK, Europe, China, India, USA, Korea – and has been a keynote speaker at dozens of technical conferences internationally. He is a member of INCOSE and is active in the Norwegian chapter, NORSEC, which presented him with an award in 2003.
From a review of “Competitive Engineering” by Tom Gilb: “….addresses difficult software engineering problems that other methodologies don’t even recognize. This is important, groundbreaking stuff.”

    Keith JACKSON

Keith Jackson is a specialist in using business excellence and performance improvement to sustain competitive advantage. He is an experienced conference speaker, teacher, coach to Executives and Project Leaders, and workshop leader. He was one of the drivers behind the European Software Process Improvement Foundation, which ran the European SEPG conference for many years into the early part of the 21st century.
Keith has managed a number of performance improvement and cultural change programmes for multinational organizations, European Government Departments and UK Local Government. His ability to put together a world-class team and co-ordinate their efforts to delight the customer is second to none.
Keith is currently Managing Director of TBL Transformation Business Leadership.
Customer endorsement, Keith Jackson and TBL: “The support and leadership of TBL had provided a vision, goals, measurable targets and, more importantly, the ability and confidence to ensure these could be delivered.”

    Peter LEESON

Peter Leeson is a visiting scientist with the SEI and a SCAMPI Lead Appraiser. He is authorized for both CMMI-DEV (for development) and CMMI-ACQ (CMMI for acquisition). He is also trained in other models and approaches, such as ISO/IEC 15504 (SPICe) and Bootstrap.
Peter complements a quality-engineering approach with a comprehensive knowledge of products such as Prince2, CMMI and ISO standards (9000-2000, 15504) as well as approaches such as Six-Sigma, NLP or mind maps.
With some thirty years experience in the software development industry Peter has a truly international approach to successful improvement effort, working with management and staff to determine the most effective approach for the culture of the business and the society.
Customer endorsement: “Peter Leeson is a very engaging, professional and thought-provoking workshop facilitator and assessor. He has successfully supported numerous activities in our organisation which required him to deal with participants at various levels of responsibility including our most senior leaders.Peter has the personality and experience to approach and deliver,often uncomfortable and challenging subject matter in a non-threatening but focussed manner. Peter is an asset to any workshop activity”


Bob Marshall is the originator of the term “Rightshifting” to describe the process of transforming organisations from the wasteful and ineffective left-hand end of the performance scale to join the high performers on the right hand side.
Bob has arrived at the Rightshifting message based on over 30 years experience in software development and IT. He is recognised as a leading UK expert in Agile methods, and has an extensive background in software quality management and quality assurance. He is one of this country’s leading practitioners in the fields of software development, business process engineering (BPR) & operational effectiveness.
Bob’s experience gives him a rare combination of commercial awareness, management perspective and cutting-edge technical knowledge across numerous disciplines. He is the author of Javelin™ – the only explicitly risk-based Agile project management method. He is currently developing the Flowchain method for chaordic organisations to the right of the Rightshifting curve.

    Grant RULE

Grant partners businesses and public services to deliver better value to their stakeholders by implementing lean, more agile practices. He is a recognised authority on Lean workflow design, software metrics practice and measurement-enabled process improvement. He is a Fellow of the RSA and has contributed to numerous national and international professional bodies concerned with software development standards. He is a member of the Intellect Government Group, an NCC ITDA Assessor and a member of the BCS PROMS-G committee.
Grant is familiar with all the exemplars of success in software-intensive product and service delivery. He pioneered many of the principles adopted by the market-leaders and has huge experience of successful software process improvement. He used iterative delivery methods before the term ‘agile’ was coined. He is a contributor to the Common Software Metrics Consortium, a world-wide group of software metrics experts formed to develop a new method of measuring software output.
Grant works tirelessly to increase awareness of the huge potential Lean systems thinking offers for sustainable business success, better public services, increased workplace effectiveness and individual job satisfaction.
Customer endorsement: “Grant’s knowledge of software measurement and processes is encyclopaedic, and he is always willing to share this with others to drive greater knowledge and control. Grant’s output is prodigeous and fascinating. He has long ago reach guru status.”


CMMI vs Agile?

July 5, 2010

This past week, the SEPG Europe conference was held in Porto (Portugal). A significant amount of presentations and discussions were held on the combination of CMMI-style processes with agile methods. For the largest part, these presentations all said that the two approaches, which are traditionally seen as being at opposite extremes, are completely compatible and benefit from each other if implemented correctly.

Someone who had participated in a number of Agile conferences told me on the last day how impressed he was at the acceptance of Agile by the CMMI community and how he was surprised at the manner in which we were all encouraging a reasonable implementation of a match between the two. The Agile community, he said, refuses to hear anything about CMMI and process and do not allow participation of process people in their conferences. A (very cynical?) consultant immediately responded that this was typical of the SEI trying to embrace, then choke the life out of something they saw as a commercial threat.

I am probably an optimist who tends to believe that people are being honest and constructive until proven otherwise, but I found both these attitudes disappointing.

First, I am disappointed in the insularity of the agile community who do not want to open the dialogue. I have trouble understanding how a community that claims to focus on communication and accepting change would not be interested in hearing more about what other people are doing.

Secondly, I am disappointed in the concept that someone would believe the SEI is trying to take over or destroy the Agile community. I do not believe they have the power to do this but, largely, I believe that the SEI and the CMMI community in general is trying to bridge the gap and demonstrate that applying one set of theories intelligently does not automatically rule out another.

I sincerely hope that (soon) the two communities will work together under the understanding that we are all trying to deploy good products, to the maximum benefit of our users and customers, with the least effort and rework possible.

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