Monthly Archives: March 2010

Jeanie and David Kitson on The Benefits of Attending SEPG

SEI Partners Jeanie and David Kitson from KAMO Consultants sit down with us to discuss the impact SEI technology has on their customers and the benefits of attending the SEPG conferences.

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Bill Smith of Leading Edge Process Consultants Overcomes His Fear of Grits

SEI Partner Bill Smith of Leading Edge Process Consultants overcomes his fear of the unknown and gives down-home authentic grits a try on the SEPG North America 2010 exhibitor floor. The results? We think Bill has a new best friend, namely the chef who made these here grits.

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Mike Campo – Reaching CMMI Maturity Level 5

Mike Campo of Raytheon sat down with us to discuss the business benefits of reaching CMMI maturity level 5.

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Segway of Savannah Gives SEPG Attendees a Lift

Segway of Savannah was on hand in the SEPG North America 2010 Conference Exhibitor Showcase to show attendees the benefits of proper Segway handling. Clear the area, please!

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Cutting the Ribbon on the Exhibitor Showcase at SEPG North America!

The SEI’s Dr. Paul D. Nielsen and Anita Carleton cut the ribbon as we enter the the Exhibitor Showcase at this years SEPG North America 2010. Take a spin around the room too!

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SEPG North America 2010 – View From Above

A view of things from the mezzanine of the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center at this years SEPG North America 2010 in Savannah, Ga.

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Welcome to SEPG from Bob Rosenstein!

The Up Side to a Down Economy

It’s been my experience this year at SEPG that the level of discourse on the subject of performance improvement is far higher than in prior years.  That, among other things, is why so many of the people who are here this year are truly dedicated to improvement and are coming to get help on serious challenges.  In other words, the down economy has shrunken the size of the conference and what’s left is a greater concentration of people more dedicated to performance improvement and dealing with tough issues, and are not looking for simplistic answers.  More simply: A better conference!

One might argue that my perspective is biased by the people I hang out with, so how can I really tell?

By listening to the questions others are asking.

People are generally asking really good questions and there’s much less (in fact, none that I’ve heard) of the whining (yes, I said ‘whining’) that often accompanies many questions in these conferences.  Fewer (if any) people are expecting “silver-bullet” answers as in many prior events.  This year’s conference attracted people who are ready to hear successes, discuss lessons, and get down to the hard work of improvement.

I’m also on this year’s conference program committee.  All I can say (not because it’s secret, but because planning won’t start for at least a month) is that what we have in mind for 2011 will shape the SEPG-NA conference to be even that much more relevant, timely, valuable and give people even more immediately usable, tangible take-aways. Anyone coming to Portland next year will never be the same.

–>>  Hillel

Hillel Glazer, Principal & CEO
Entinex, Inc.

Speed Dating at the Booths

by Bill Smith
CEO, Leading Edge Process Consultants

How can you possibly visit all of the booths on the SEPG exhibit floor, when there are sessions to attend, colleagues to chat with, and ghosts to chase?

Speed dating! Or at least, something like it.

Here’s what I decided to  do:

  1. Visit a booth.
  2. Briefly introduce myself.
  3. Listen to whatever they had to say for two minutes.
  4. Thank them.
  5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 as needed.

(Can you tell I used to be a programmer?)

So it was totally like speed dating. I was trying to quickly find “matches” for me… without those nasty little expenses like dinner, movie tickets, and lawyers. (Yes, lawyers. After all, I am married, so I suspect that if any of these booth encounters became real dates, there could ultimately be legal expenses. But enough already about Tiger Woods…)

Of course, there were complexities. What if I already knew the person at the booth? What if they simply had no two-minute  “elevator speech”? (Then, I would argue, what the heck are they doing staffing a booth?) What if this became, well, awkward?

I say that’s all part of the fun!

I started in the rear of the hall because it would have been way too obvious to begin in the front. Immediately I was saying “Hello” to David and Jeanie Kitson of KAMO Consultancy.  So, right off the bat I’m confronted with two people who know me and wonder what the heck am I doing.

Especially when they see the cameras.

Oh, I forgot to mention that part. When I told my buddy Dana with the SEI what I was going to do, she immediately asked if I’d mind if she and Daniel (an SEI video guru) could tag along and film. Afterwards, Daniel would edit it down to a reasonable length. Fine with me, I said.

Anyway, about David and Jeanie and all the other folks I spoke with… sure, I could keep writing. But I think I’ll let the video do the talking instead! (I’ll post a link to it here once it’s been edited and uploaded.)

SEPG from an Exhibitor’s Perspective

It’s not so easy being an exhibitor during these economic times.

But a down economy has also its advantages. Effectiveness suddenly becomes an issue. With Savannah being our fifth SEPG, we really see a shift in the CMMI community. The CMMI model itself didn’t change so much in these years. OK, we saw new constellations, but the basic structure remained the same.

What really has changed from our perspective is the way how people like to implement CMMI. More and more people are hunting for new approaches that make it easier to define and perform processes or speed up SCAMPI preparations.  Especially organizations having to comply to multiple models (CMMI, ISO, SPICE, SixSigma, LEAN, yadda yadda yadda…) this becomes crucial. We definitely see much more demand at our booth for these kind of solutions  than a few years ago.

To add one more datapoint, Sam Fogle, CMMI Lead Appraiser and a dear friend, just told me at dinner tonight, that during his talk the room was just packed. His topic? CMMI PIIDs and how to save time in filling them out.

To put it all into a nutshell, we definitely see that cost and time effectiveness of CMMI process improvement made it into the organization’s top priorities. It’s not about the CMMI level anymore. Finally, organizations seem to understand CMMI. And this is really good news.

Erich Meier
Method Park CTO & “Stages” Chief Architect

SEI Member Awards & Luncheon

The SEI Member community gathered yesterday over a delectable lunch to recognize three outstanding SEI Members at the 16th Annual SEI Member Awards & Luncheon. Each year the SEI Member community comes together at SEPG North America conference to honor the best and brightest among SEI Members. Winners are nominated and selected by fellow SEI Members for their extraordinary contributions, innovations, and advocacy.

The Award Categories include:

Outstanding Contributor Award
The SEI Member Outstanding Contributor Award is given annually to an SEI Member whose achievements have resulted in lasting, positive change.  All the nominees in this field enhance our everyday lives through the work that they do.

Outstanding Advocate Award

The SEI Member Advocate Award is given annually to an SEI Member who demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities by actively engaging the community. They lead by example. Nominees in this field think outside the box. They are innovators. Leaders. Pioneers.

Oustanding Representative Award
The SEI Outstanding Member Representative Award is given annually an SEI Member who displays independent and innovative thinking. Nominees for this award are leaders in their community and pioneers in the fields of software and system engineering. Their work often explores alternative solutions and inventive methods for continuous process improvement.

This year’s winners are:
The SEI Member Outstanding Contributor Award
Kathy Smith, the Global CMMI Lead for HP Enterprise Services (formerly EDS).

The SEI Member Outstanding Advocate Award
Gary Coleman, Director of the Enterprise Process Improvement Division at CACI International, Inc.

The SEI Outstanding Member Representative Award
Bill Smith, CEO and Founder of Leading Edge Process Consultants LLC.

Please congratulate these outstanding SEI Members as you see them during the remaining days of the conference.

Day One at SEPG

By Karen Smiley, agileteams
Today was a good start to my SEPG, thanks to a combination of good plans (well-executed) and serendipity.

First, on this morning’s shuttle bus, I met up with two European colleagues I hadn’t seen since my 2007 rotation to Shanghai. After registration check-in and joining another US-based colleague, we went off to separate morning sessions.

I was pretty happy with my two: Judah Mogilensky and Hillel Glazer tag-teamed on their ’super-sonic SCAMPI’ approach that’s both leaner and more collaborative, and Beth Layman gave a nice talk on making (re)appraisals more efficient. A key takeaway both sessions emphasized: more reliance on ‘affirmations’ and less on ‘indirect’ evidence.

On the walk to lunch, I met up briefly with some SEI and external colleagues from my TSP coaching days, who I plan to catch up with further over the next few days.

Choosing an afternoon session was tough: multiple models, CMMI+TSP, requirements, or agile CMMI? Again my colleagues and I split up: one was room moderator for the CMMI-TSP session, and another wanted to see Bill Diebler’s requirements, so I flipped a coin and went to agile CMMI.

Kent Johnson offered some interesting data on how a 500-person company in Denmark made significant productivity improvements by adding agile to their CMMI maturity level 5 approach. I was a little puzzled though by some of the measures proposed, for instance the completeness of the items in the product backlog: in agile, the product backlog shouldn’t be defined in great detail too early – selected stories are clarified collaboratively with the Product Owner during sprint planning. (Plus, how to actually measure this idea of backlog item completeness was never explained.) But it was generally a worthwhile session.

Locating a seat in this crowded afternoon session gave me another lucky reconnection: I ended up sitting right next to someone I had worked with in another state over 15 years ago. It was so nice to catch up with Caroline on break and afterward! Then I strolled down to the requirements session I’d missed to meet Bill F2F, and we had a good chat.

The last good news item of the day: the Savannah river’s been reopened and the ferries are running again! I’m looking forward to riding tomorrow.

Final thought on what I enjoyed about SEPG today: to me it’s always a nice treat to participate in a technical event that has more than the typical ratio of 5-15% women – it’s been closer to 50% in my sessions today.

Biggest disappointments so far? The rooms are crowded, drink selection and availability could be better on breaks (bringing my own water bottle tomorrow), and wireless connectivity in the session rooms is too weak to use.

I took a few photos, but don’t have time to offload and attach them tonight; I’ll post a comment here when they’re available.

Haunted Happenings

Good Morning SEPGers! 

I hope all who attended the Haunted Pub Crawl last night had a wonderful time!   It was a pleasure to meet those folks who made it out.

I look forward to running into familiar faces at tonight’s Exhibit Showcase Grand Opening!  Be sure to stop by booth 304 to say hello!


Crystal M. Craven

Monday Program Updates

Hi, ya’ll!  Welcome to day 1 of SEPG North America 2010.  We have just a few program updates today that I wanted to share on here with everyone.  Take a look at the updated schedule below:

  • Updated

The Agile CMMI: Obtaining the Real Benefits from Measurement and High Maturity will begin at 1:30 p.m. in Room 104 in the Convention Center.

1:30-5:00 p.m.
Agile CMMI: Obtaining the Real Benefits from Measurement and High Maturity
Kent Johnson, AgileDigm, Inc.
Margaret Kulpa, AgileDigm, Inc.

Half-day tutorial, 1768
Room 104

  • Canceled
    8:30-10 a.m.
    Organizational Change Management: The Key Differentiator for Sustainable Process Improvement
    Julie Calfin, Broadsword Solutions
    Mini-tutorial, 1913
    Room 103
  • Added
    8:30-10 a.m.
    CMMI and ITIL and ISO 2000
    Kieran Doyle, Lamri

    Room 103

An Unplanned Savannah Encounter

So I check into the Westin, and I’m in my room looking out the window at what I think is the Savannah River. But wait a second, it ends. The river, that is, actually stops. No, not by flowing into something bigger, which is what I’d expect from any landmark whose last name is “River.” Instead, it just sits there looking like a river-shaped lake. A river-lake. Huh? And honestly, it’s not all that impressive. I could easily swim across it, if it weren’t for the gators. And I just know they’re there, because it looks exactly like the kind of place I would live if I were an alligator.

And here’s the thing. I’ve heard there’s plenty to do “on the other side.” But the other side looks like… um… well… weeds!

Bummed out by the river-lake, but still inspired by the beautiful day outside, I head downstairs in search of an exit. As an experienced traveler, I realize that most hotels are equipped with a way to get out. Except for maybe the one in the Eagles song where “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” But I’m in Georgia, not California, so there’s gotta be a way to leave, if only for a few hours.

Now I lurk the lobby, silently assessing which door will get me to this “river” the fastest. And I’m not even sure why I feel driven to go there and get to the other side. Remember, it’s just weeds! Okay, and maybe some cattails. But for whatever reason, the Eagles are now joined by the Talking Heads in my brain. “Take me to the river…”

That’s when I hear someone say “Hi Bill!” I look over and see Heather Oppenheimer checking in at the front desk. I’ve met her once before, at last year’s SEPG Conference in San Jose. We chat for a minute, and she eventually agrees to accompany me across the river. Cool! Because if I’m going to be walking through a swamp, I’d at least like somebody to chat with. And maybe to help pull the leeches off afterwards. If we survive the crocs.

Stepping outside, the day is indeed glorious. Sun bathers abound, and I realize that my all-black outfit doesn’t quite… blend. But there it is in front of me — the Savannah River! Big and bold, with what appears to be lots of civilization on the other side! Where are the weeds?

Heather politely informs me that what I saw from my window was simply a wetland, not the actual river.


So we take a ferry across and it’s obvious I’m with the right person. Heather has much more of a “plan” than me, which I appreciate. Truthfully, I never had much of a plan other than to cross that river. We browse some nifty little shops, I buy a little wire sculpture of an Alien/Predator dude, purchase two huge dog biscuits imprinted with “SAVANNAH,” and we finally end up eating at a place called Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub. And we talked and talked and talked. About the CMMI for Services and Miami Beach, about SEI training and aging parents. The conversation flowed, just like the river. (I guess wetlands flow too, just not so fast.) I discovered much more about a person who had previously just been a very casual acquaintance. We even found out enough about each other and our businesses that it wouldn’t be ridiculous to think of working together on something in the future. (At least, that’s my perspective; I can’t necessarily speak for her!)

When I got back to my room later that evening, I realized this is a key part of what SEPG is all about. Sure, there are plenty of planned activities. There are presenters to hear and booths to visit and, heck, even a Gala to attend. But the unplanned can sometimes be even better. Who knew?

I look forward to the rest of the week at the Conference. And I have a hunch I’ll be crossing that river a few more times, too!

Bill Smith
CEO, Leading Edge Process Consultants