Software Value: Impact on Software Process Improvement | DCG

Business value has not always been the primary driver of software process improvement, but that is changing.  This is the main point of an excellent article by Richard Turner in the March/April edition of CrossTalk, “The impact of Agile and Lean on Process Improvement.”

Turner’s article is a concise and refreshingly frank walk through the history of software process improvement from the perspective of an expert who has been intimately involved.  With a hint of frustration that I certainly share, Turner captures perfectly the thinking that has led to a move away from process improvement initiatives like CMMi in commercial software development organizations:

“One of the drawbacks of earlier process improvement approaches was the concept and distribution of value. The overall value of the process improvement was often situational at best and nebulous at worst.  Where it was seen as a necessity for competitive credibility [as was the case for my development group at Sanchez Computer Associates back in 2001], the value was in passing the audit rather than in any value to the organization and the customer.  In other cases, the value was essentially associated with the success of one or two champions and disappeared if they failed, changed positions or left the company [as I did].  On those occasions where PI was primarily instituted for the actual improvement of the organization, the internal focus on practices was often valued as a way of cutting costs, standardizing work [We certainly needed to make our processes repeatable] or deploying better predictive management capabilities rather than improving the product or raising customer satisfaction.”

While I agree with 95% of Turner’s analysis here, in my experience both passing the audit and standardizing our processes raised customer satisfaction.  We went from having one customer ready to give us a reference to most of our customers being referenceable on the basis of solid evidence that we had fixed the reliability of our software development

Turner contrasts historic process improvement initiatives, mostly targeted at waterfall operations, where business value was not a prime driver to today’s initiatives where, “With the emergence of Agile and Lean, the concept of value became more aligned with outcomes.  The focus on value stream and value-based decision making and scheduling brought additional considerations to what were considered best practices.”

Turner recognizes that in today’s Agile and Lean software development teams, the teams themselves are responsible for their own processes.  Mostly, this is a strength because creative people are likely to optimize processes under their control out of simple self-interest (which benefits the organization).  Where this falls down in my experience is where, “These organizations rely on cross-fertilization of personnel across multiple projects to improve the organization as a whole.”  To put it bluntly, this rarely happens.  Teams can be self-organizing but groups of teams don’t typically self-organize.  Hence, there is still a place for organizational process improvement – with a lean, software value driven emphasis – in the most modern software development organization.  By way of evidence, scrum teams that are working together on the same program struggle to develop ways to coordinate and synchronize their efforts unless a framework such as SAFe is introduced through a process improvement initiative. 

That said, I will leave the last word to Turner, “Process improvement that does not improve the ability to adapt has little value.”


Michael D. Harris, CEO

Written by Michael D. Harris at 13:36

Capability Counts 2016

Capability Counts 2016

The CMMI framework has been around for awhile now, but its use in the industry continues to persist. The framework's focus on quality improvement through the use of best practices makes it of value to almost any organization.

While the framework is still in use, the CMMI Institute has expanded its annual conference beyond a singular focus on the framework itself, to a broader focus on capability. Branding as the "Capability Counts" conference makes sense - all organizations want to build and capitalize on their capability - and this includes more than just the implementation of CMMI. 

We were excited to attend this year's Capability Counts conference in Annapolis, where the wider scope of the conference lent itself to an interesting agenda of speakers on topics from risk management to product quality measurement - and yes, CMMI.

Tom Cagley, our Vice President of Consulting, also spoke at the conference. His presentation, "Budgeting, Estimation, Planning, #NoEstimates, and the Agile Planning Onion - They ALL Make Sense," discussed the many levels of software estimation, including budgeting, high-level estimation, and task planning. He explained why all of these methods are useful, when they make sense, and in what combination.

You can download the presentation below. More information about our CMMI offerings are here - and we're already looking forward to next year's conference!



Written by Default at 05:00

May Conferences with DCG Software Value

Last month we spoke at QAI's QUEST Conference and ITFMA's Financial World of IT Conference. Both conferences had a great turnout, and we are happy to report that we had engaged crowds for our presentations. Now we're looking forward to May. Here's where we're headed:


STAREast is a TechWell conference focused exclusively on software testing and quality improvement. The conference runs May 1-6 in Orlando, but you can see CEO Mike Harris' presentation on May 4th at 1:45pm.


His presentation, "Budgeting, Estimation, Planning and #NoEstimates - They All Make Sense for Agile Testing!," shares a case study that provides an approach that “checks the box” for standard corporate estimation requirements, while staying true to the Agile planning and estimation processes. Using the Agile Planning Onion popularized by Mike Cohn, this approach includes team and project-level implementations of #NoEstimates concepts. Attendees will take away an approach that can be applied to testing for both small and large Agile efforts.


We've attended this conference several times, and we're interested to see what the hot topics are around testing this year.


CMMI Conference

CMMI's Capability Counts conference, May 10-11 in Annapolis, MD, is a must-attend for capability and process improvement enthusiasts. The conference has really broadened its focus to more than just the CMMI framework, allowing for more individuals to find value in attending.


For example, Tom Cagley, Vice President of Consulting, will be presenting on estimation. His presentation, "Budgeting, Estimation, Planning, #NoEstimates and the Agile Planning Onion - They ALL Make Sense,” part of the the “Advancing Your Capability” track, will discuss the many types of estimation, why they all have value and when they should be used (and in what combination).

CIO Forum

May 15-16 you can find Mike Harris back in Florida - this time in Miami - for The CIO Forum, which brings together senior-level IT executives to discuss critical, timely IT issues. Mike was invited back as a speaker for the conference (last year he spoke on the Value Visualization Framework). His presentation, "Portfolio Software Value Management," will discuss the strategic steps necessary to implement software value management at the portfolio level.


IIBA Philadelphia


Finally, if you're a member of The Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), you can catch Tom Cagley and Tony Manno, Vice President of Outsourced Services, presenting at the May 20th meeting on Agile Story Telling.


As always, we'll share links to these presentations once the conference are over. If you're attending any of these events, let us know - we always enjoy catching up with old friends or meeting new ones!

Written by Default at 05:00
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The 2015 CMMI Global Congress

CMMI Global Congress

After a successful (and fun!) time at the CMMI EMEA Conference in Europe, we're now headed to Seattle for the CMMI Institute Global Congress! For DCG, this is a must-attend event - and it has been for years!

We're excited to connect with others in the CMMI community from around the world to see what's working (or not) and to share our own tips and experiences.

If you'll be at the event, please stop by our booth in the exhibition hall. We'll be talking about how to combine CMMI with Agile and lean for a competitive advantage and to reap the most value from your software.

Also, don't miss Tom Cagley's presentation on Agile risk management. Tom will discuss how to combine Agile and CMMI-based risk management techniques to increase the robustness of an Agile implementation without adding overhead and while further dampening risk.

If you can't make it out to Seattle, never fear! We are sharing Tom's presentation just for you!

Download it Now!

This presentation is available to download here.

Contact Tom!

Questions or comments? Tom's always happy to speak with someone new!

Phone: (440) 668-5717

See you in Seattle!

Written by Default at 05:00
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CMMI EMEA: Agile Risk Management



We really enjoyed the latest conference from UNICOM and the CMMI Institute. CMMI EMEA, the ALM conference and the DevOps Summit all combined to bring together a great group of speakers, exhibitors and attendees. The synergy between the topics kept the schedule interesting - and it made it easy to pick and choose which presentations to attend based on which topics were most relevant to an individual's needs and interests.

We met a lot of people at our booth in the exhibition hall (thanks for stopping by!), and we had a great turnout for Tom Cagley's presentation, Agile Risk Management, which was part of the CMMI track of the conference.

What was it all about? Tom's presentation discussed that fact that Agile techniques have not magically erased risk from software projects (we all wish!).

However, Agile is inherently less risky, assuming you actually implement and practice Agile techniques. Tom spoke about how to combine Agile and CMMI-based risk management techniques in order to increase the robustness of an Agile implementation and mitigate risk. Interested? Download it! That's right, we know not everyone could attend the conference, so we're offering up his presentation for download.

Download it Now!

This presentation is available to download here.

Contact Tom!

Questions or comments? Need more information? Contact Tom directly for guidance - or just to chat!

Phone: (440) 668-5717

Written by Default at 05:00
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