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CMMI and Agile Development - A Binary Choice?

The Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) for Development has a long and impressive history in the industry for progressing the cause of process improvement in software and systems programs. Fueled by funding from the US Government, the Carnegie Mellon University’s (CMU) Software Engineering Institute (SEI) worked with the US Air Force, NASA and others in the industry to create a process for quantifying a software development organizations capability maturity. This was first done specifically for software – the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and later morphed into the CMMI which created processes for measuring capability in the following areas of interest: • Product and service development – CMMI for Development (CMMI-DEV) • Service establishment and management – CMMI for Services (CMMI-SVC) • Product and service acquisition – CMMI for Acquisition (CMMI-ACQ) Agile development is a paradigm for software development processes that are characterized by highly collaborative, cross-functional teams who work closely with their customers to deliver regular increments of functional software capability that delight their customers. Agile practices require flexibility and rapid response to changes in requirements. The tenets of an agile development include: • Favoring individuals and interactions over processes and tools • Favoring working software over comprehensive documentation • Favoring customer collaboration over contract negotiation • Favoring responding to change over following a plan The CMMI focuses on having well documented processed that are understood and respected by the software development team and their management. Agile development practices encourage favoring more rigorous interactions and trade-offs over highly structured, well documented processes. At a top level it appears that what the CMMI for Development is trying to achieve flies directly in the face of the tenets of an agile software development project – it seems like a binary choice. And yet some have been quite successful with an intelligent marriage of the two approaches. This paper delves into the specifics of each of these approaches with respect to where and how they have worked and have not worked. Specific instances of successes and failures of the entwining of these two approaches will be presented along with an analysis as to what makes the differentiators between these cases.

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Arlene Minkiewicz (Primary Presenter), PRICE Systems, LLC, arlene.minkiewicz@pricesystems.com;
Ms Minkiewicz is a software measurement expert dedicated to finding creative solutions focused on making software development professionals successful. She has over 30 years in the software industry researching all aspects of the software development process and providing thought leadership to the software community. Ms Minkiewicz is the Chief Scientist at PRICE Systems, LLC. In this role, she leads the cost research activity for the entire suite of cost estimating products that PRICE provides. She has a BS in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University and an MS in Computer Science from Drexel University. She has published many articles on software measurement and estimation in Software Development, Crosstalk, and the Journal of Software Technology and has been a contributing author for several books. She frequently presents at industry conferences on many topics associated with hardware, software and systems estimation and has received numerous best paper awards for her research papers.

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