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I have taken the Intro class Dec 2009 and need to know what's next? How do I attain Lead Assessor? My Organization wants to set up a project to adopt CMMI for some or all departments. I could lead the way If I can get this figured out and attain it soon.

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Steve,

It was a pleasure having you in my December class, and I'm delighted that you may now be inspired to become a Lead Appraiser. Be forewarned, though, that it isn't an easy or particularly quick road for you or your organization; this is why companies often use an external appraiser. I do wish you luck, though. Please keep us posted on your progress.

Here are the typical steps involved in becoming an SEI-Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser. I'm trying my best to make sure this information is accurate as of today, but it's of course subject to change; plus, the SEI will always be the final authority on this, not me.

  1. Take the Introduction to CMMI class. You've been there, done that -- and you have the Flying Monkey to prove it. Congrats!
  2. Study and apply the model for at least 90 days. No, I'm not making this up. It's actually one of the prerequisites for taking the Intermediate class.
  3. Successfully complete the Intermediate Concepts of CMMI class. The SEI offers this four-and-a-half day class in Pittsburgh PA or Arlington VA, assuming you're sticking to the U.S. (current cost: $3000 industry, $2400 government); a few other SEI Partners may also deliver it. (Leading Edge does not currently offer this course, but may consider it for future delivery... probably not in time for you!) You'll also need to pass an end-of-course exam. (Personally, I spent every night of my Intermediate CMMI week reading the glossary. I really didn't feel like failing the exam!)
  4. Become an SEI Partner. (Your organization, not you.) I don't see your organization listed as an SEI Partner. They'd need to apply (by putting together a "business plan" of sorts) and be approved. They will also need to shell out some bucks every year to retain their Partner credential, and additional money for you to retain your appraiser certification. (For example, it costs me about $5000 yearly to be a Partner and retain my Instructor certification; I also paid over $30,000 in per-student licensing fees in 2009!) Check with the SEI for details on becoming a Partner. (I listed this as Step 4 somewhat arbitrarily; really, it could be done anytime before you apply for the Lead Appraiser Training.)
  5. Participate on two or three appraisals. Specifically, participate as an appraisal team member on at least two SCAMPI A appraisals or on one SCAMPI A appraisal and two SCAMPI B or C appraisals within the 24 months prior to class. This is why you'll sometimes see people begging to serve on appraisal teams, often for free -- they're simply trying to meet this requirement. (As CMMI Rocks! grows over the next few weeks, consider using the Job Board for this!)
  6. Take the SCAMPI Lead Appraiser Training. Five days, at the SEI, in Pittsburgh or Arlington. (Again, assuming you stick to the U.S.) This course currently costs about $4800 (industry)/$3800 (government). Make sure you satisfy the prerequisites (e.g., ten years of project management / engineering experience).
  7. Be observed leading a SCAMPI A Appraisal. You'll need an official SEI Observer to do this, and your organization will need to pay an hourly fee for their time, plus travel costs. (Because I haven't gone through this process, I don't have a good handle on cost. You can probably guess it's not cheap, though.)

If you were to try to fast-track your way through this, you could take the April 26-30 Intermediate Concepts of CMMI class in Pittsburgh (subject to availability) and the August 2-6 SCAMPI Lead Appraiser Training in Arlington. Somewhere along the way, you'd also be trying to get your required appraisal experience and your organization would become an SEI Partner. This would set you up nicely for your observation, conceivably at your own organization's SCAMPI Class A appraisal.

I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions. By the way, after reading everything that you have to go through... are you still interested!? Or have I scared you away?


;)

I just received a clarification from the SEI. In lieu of the Intermediate Concepts of CMMI course (Step 3 above), you may substitute the combination of the following three courses for advanced course entry requirements (e.g., SCAMPI Lead Appraiser Training): CMMI Level 2 for Practitioners, CMMI Level 3 for Practitioners, and Understanding CMMI High Maturity Practices.

Be aware, though, that those courses are (respectively) three days, three days, and four days in duration -- for a total of ten days of training! That, along with the associated dollars spent, would be the downside. The upside of taking those three courses versus just taking the five-day Intermediate course? You'll be exposed to the concepts in way more detail -- especially in the High Maturity course.

You don't need to be a Lead Appraiser to lead the charge for your organization. As the Quality Manager for KTC, we went through CMMI for Dev in 2008 and CMMI for Services in 2009 and got CMMI ML3 for both without more than a solid understanding of our processes and procedures and the Intro to CMMI that Bill Smith provided for me and my appraisal team.

Also be aware of the challenges of being a Lead Appraiser for your own organization. If you are leading the efforts to get your business units' processes to meet CMMI standards, you could be creating a perceived conflict of interest if you're tasked with performing a SCAMPI Appraisal against your own work.

It can be done, but you need to be extra careful to clearly document and delineate your role to show the actual process improvements and all the evidence is being generated by the departments and not you.

That's a great summary, David, of the two key reasons why an organization may not want to mint a new Lead Appraiser just to appraise itself. In fact, let's look at some data:


Use of external Lead Appraisers. I took a quick look at the information freely available in the SEI's Published Appraisal Results (PARS) to see how "the big guys" do it. The results agree with what I've experienced anecdotally, but might be surprising to some.


The Top 3 U.S. Defense Contractors in 2008 (per Defense News) were Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, and Boeing. Each one is an SEI Partner, and each has two to five Lead Appraisers on its staff. Hence, they're each more than capable of conducting SCAMPI Class A's on their own business units. But let's look at what they actually do…


There are a total of 41 currently valid SCAMPI Class A appraisal results between the three companies. Of those, only 4 -- less than 10% -- were conducted by their own, internal Lead Appraisers. The remaining 37 were all conducted by external companies -- other SEI Partners. The data is especially dramatic if we focus on Lockheed Martin, the top defense contractor -- of their 13 currently valid SCAMPI Class A appraisals, 0 were conducted by their own LAs; and this is from a company that has five certified LAs on their staff! (By the way, for this discussion we're sticking to CMMI-DEV SCAMPIs and Lead Appraisers. Very few CMMI-SVC appraisals have been done to date.)


Obviously, the top defense companies put a high level of importance on getting the independent perspective. It certainly looks better on paper, and could indeed result in a more objective evaluation.


Cost and time needed to become a Lead Appraiser. As evidenced by my original response to Steve's question, this is significant! There is a middle ground, though…


Again, let's look at those Top 3 defense contractors. Between them, they have eight (8) Lead Appraisers. But they also have 19 certified SCAMPI B and C Team Leaders (the 8 Lead Appraisers, plus 11 others). So, these organizations obviously believe that there's significant value in training people to lead SCAMPI Class B and C appraisals, even if the appraisal for level rating is done by somebody else.


This certainly doesn't mean that an organization pursuing the CMMI needs somebody on their staff to be a SCAMPI B and C Team Leader (any more than they need a SCAMPI Lead Appraiser). The economics of the situation will help to dictate whether or not this is feasible. My guess is that the SCAMPI B and C Leaders at the contractors I mentioned above typically have led multiple events. In a smaller company, there may be no such opportunity -- or need.


So, how would one become a SCAMPI B and C Team Leader? In my original reply to this discussion, perform steps 1 through 3. Skip the rest, and instead take the SCAMPI B and C Team Leader Training. Then, please let me know how it went!

Bill,

Question on the SCAMPI B and SCAMPI C team leader training. Would this be something to go after, once you complete the intermediate course, to help get teams and companies / projects ready for their appraisal however not be the lead appraiser? I have an interest to do just that and after digging around some and reading forums on your site it appears as if this thread answers my question.

Any help is appreciated!

Dale,

Yes.

In fact, I've been thinking about doing that myself. As I eventually add consulting to my service catalog (which currently consists only of training), I can see where it would be really helpful to be certified to lead the less rigorous SCAMPI B & C appraisals.

But before you enroll in the SCAMPI B & C Team Leader Training, take a good look at the course durations and costs:

  1. SCAMPI B & C Team Leader Training - 4.5 days, $3700 (U.S. industry price)
  2. SCAMPI Lead Appraiser Training - 5 days, $4800 (U.S. industry price)

With a relatively insignificant difference in course duration, and a not-too-large cost difference, some people might simply want to do the full-blown SCAMPI Lead Appraiser Training -- **if** there's a decent chance they may eventually want to be a Lead Appraiser. After all, if you're a Lead Appraiser, you're also certified to lead SCAMPI B & C appraisals.

To me, the big problem with those two courses is that there's no "gap" course. Here's what I'd like to do:

  1. Take the 4.5 day SCAMPI B & C Team Leader Training.
  2. Help organizations with their process improvement initiatives. Maybe lead some SCAMPI B & C appraisals along the way.
  3. Then, if I decide to eventually become a Lead Appraiser, take a 1/2 to 1 day course that covers the additional things I need to know.

I've even asked the SEI about this. Their answer was that because no gap course exists, I'd instead need to take the 5-day SCAMPI Lead Appraiser training. Even after already having 4.5 days of SCAMPI training. Um... seriously? Really, SEI, I do love you... just not that much! Do you realize how much music I could download for that $4800?

So go ahead and take the SCAMPI B & C Team Leader Training... unless you think there's a reasonable chance you'll want to lead SCAMPI A appraisals someday. If that's the case, I'd recommend the SCAMPI Lead Appraiser Training instead.

Does this help you, Dale?

Bill

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