A Critical Look at CMM and Agile Through Gen Y


an analogy with manufacturing industry.

"Manufacturing has long recognized the importance of process effectiveness and efficiency. Today, many organizations in manufacturing and service industries recognize the importance of quality processes. Process helps an organization's workforce meet business objectives by helping them work smarter, not harder, and with improved consistency."[6]

The historical fears of the changing world may not be relevant today as the s/w is not organized; either in punch cards or long procedural codes. The object oriented, componentized, building block style of code with the very advanced tools does not make changing people and technologies as big an issue as it was in earlier decades.

The analogy with manufacturing to s/w industry is rather demeaning. In the industrialized world of the manufacturing industry, work is done and goods are produced by machines. Humans only operate machines that are part of a long assembly chain. On the contrary, if it is humans that have to deliver goods that too of intellectual nature, the analogy with manufacturing industry cannot withstand. The only analogy that can suit the situation would be creation of art [20].

It has been mostly the services/consulting companies that went for appraisals and certifications. This is the main reason why there are more Indian IT companies with more certifications than others [11,12]. It would be difficult to find product/technology development companies like Oracle, Apple, Google going for such elaborate process models and certifications. The distinction is that the technology-centric companies need not prove their ability to build new technologies to the external world. The end product in the market place establishes their capability. When it comes to consulting companies, they cannot exhibit "a product" in the market place; since service is a matter of customer experience. Earlier client references may fulfill a part need to showcase their ability. However, a need for a more credible body certifying a consultant company stays intact.

Following excerpt from the case study "Managing Growth in a High Technology Venture - the Fact-Tree Way" explains this need.

""Processes" and "Quality Certifications" were the buzz words now. It was not just the Fact-Tree management that felt a strong need to get the organization certified, the prospective customers, especially the European clients, preferred firms that could flash a Quality certification such as ISO." [9]

The firm discussed in this case study starts with an ISO certification and then suddenly finds itself in the need for an SEI-CMM assessment. The reasons for this as stated in the paper are not necessarily to do a better job, but sustainance in the competition with other companies in the certification race.

The decision of these companies going for ISO, CMM or an Agile model tomorrow is not because of their own convictions and/or internal needs; but would be determined by their competition and what is a "hot" certificate in the market place.

"Meanwhile, Fact-Tree's top competitors were going for SEI-CMM (Software Engineering Institute- Capability Maturity Model) certification and Fact-Tree did not want to stay behind." [9]

It would be an easy observation for anyone who works closely with Indian IT companies. In such an environment where flashing a certificate becomes the business need, everything else including people focus takes back seat. To start and survive in such market starts with the strategy of how quickly the certification can be achieved.

As Nagaraju puts it in his reply to the case study "What is wrong with the Indian Software Industry?" [10], this environment creates more value for the people who fall in line with the process and make them grow up in the career as leaders and managers.


About the author

AgileConnection is a TechWell community.

Through conferences, training, consulting, and online resources, TechWell helps you develop and deliver great software every day.