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The firm behind had top-notch credentials -- and it didn't help

Patrick Thibodeau | Jan. 2, 2014
The biggest software failure of 2013 and why CMMI certification was no predictor of success.

Last summer, the CMMI Institute conducted its first "customer satisfaction" survey of users worldwide. Nearly 1,900 responded with generally high marks. On a scale of one to 10, fully half of the respondents rated CMMI a 9 or 10 when it comes to evaluating organizational performance; 41% gave it a 7 or 8; and only 9% rated it at 6 or lower.

The Institute provided the raw survey results with comments from responders pointing to improvements as a result CMMI. One U.S. customer wrote: "Most organizations would benefit from the model, but many would lack the very large commitment it takes to follow it through."

Hillel Glazer, the CEO of consulting firm Entinex and author of the CMMI FAQ, a book-length analysis of the system, rejects the idea that the CMMI Institute will raise barriers or foist new requirements on the market. By being independent of the university, Glazer said, the Institute can better focus on the needs of the market.

"Moving towards a 'for-profit,' operation can only influence the market on its own footing," said Glazer.

Jim Johnson, the founder the Standish Group, which has a database of some 50,000 development projects, said "the problem with processes and tools is they leave out leadership, they try to create a cookbook that people can follow, but eliminate the leadership part of it."

Johnson is on the fence about CMMI, but said it "would be down on the long list of things that I would do."

Having the right leadership, environment, executive sponsors, and agile process are among the things that Johnson said he would make sure are in place before looking at CMMI.

And as far as trial-and-error goes, Johnson points to the work needed to create the first light bulb and Apple's iPod.

"Sometimes trial and error is good," he said.


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