CMMI & Lean - What Adds Value?

I have seen a number of articles, webinars and conference presentations in the past year or so which discuss the differences between lean and CMMI or implementing CMMI with a lean approach.  It was one of the latter presentations by Anil Revankar of Wipro at SEPG 2012 that stuck in my head, and I have been wondering why it bothered me.  At face value, it was a good presentation making sound points, and I'm certainly a supporter of taking a lean approach to anything. But still, I was bothered. Today, after a conversation with my colleague, Pat Eglin, about how a small start-up company might start doing business with CMMI Level 3 (or 4 or 5) in place from day one, I suddenly realized what my problem was:  If, at a basic level, lean is about eliminating process steps that don't add value, then what, if any, parts of CMMI don't add value? CMMI implementations can sometimes be accused of being too "bureaucratic" or "stifling innovation," but in my experience, these are mostly bad implementations (due to poor consultants and/or lead appraisers).  For example, I remember one of our CMMI clients in the early days of Agile telling me the maximum size in pages of the process document that he was willing to accept before we even started the analysis. Obviously not a best practice. So, again, what parts of CMMI don't add value?  In thinking about it now, I can see that in certain scenarios, parts of CMMI are valueless.  A trivial example is the Supplier Agreement Management (SAM) - no suppliers means no need for SAM.  The lean analysis should go deeper, but it will always be a custom analysis unique to the situation of the organization implementing CMMI in as lean a way as they can.  I expect (and hope) that most lead appraisers will recognize such an approach as being positive and maximizing the likelihood of success of the CMMI initiative. What do you think? What parts of CMMI do not add value - if any?    Mike Harris DCG President

Written by Michael D. Harris at 10:46
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"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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