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Mike Tarrani
Linda Zarate
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Monday, April 15, 2002


Flu? Flown! Workload? Groan! The past few days were spent suffering through a mild case of the flu. I seem to be back to normal (depending, of course, how you define normal). It appears that my workload is growing, which means that my entries here are going to remain short, and other avocation activities are going to be put on hold. One of those activities is writing book reviews on Amazon.

I have a small backlog of books for which I owe publishers and authors a review, after which I am taking a break from reviewing for Amazon.

When I'm in Kuwait I'll refocus my energies and attention on Mike Sisco's IT Manager Development Series and his IT Manager Toolkit. I've read most of the books in the IT Manager Development Series, and have reviewed Acquisition: IT Due Diligence (see my 1 April review below) and Acquisition: IT Assimilations (see my 31 March review below). Both are outstanding. I haven't looked at the tools in the IT Manager Toolkit that Mike sent me, but will later this week.

Terror? Here's an article that will give you pause: Win-XP Search Assistant silently downloads files. Another reason why I have no intention of downgrading my system to XP.

CMM Assessments. I recently read Assessment Coordinator's Handbook: Planning for a Well-Orchestrated Software Appraisal by Ken Dymond, who also wrote A Guide to the CMM: Understanding the Capability Maturity Model for Software (see Linda's 3 July review of that book).

Assessment Coordinator's Handbook: Planning for a Well-Orchestrated Software Appraisal is worth it's weight in gold to right readers. This short, 41-page guide is an invaluable resource to anyone who is getting started in assessments. It's been designed to augment SEI assessment training, therefore does not supplant official SEI materials. Here are the key features:

  • Gives a two-phase approach for preparing and training for CMM assessments that are consistent with SEI guidelines. Phase I covers pre-assessment training and planning and Phase II covers on-site assessment activities.
  • Provides detailed checklists for each phase. The author's extensive experience in assessments has been condensed into the essentials, which save you significant planning and artifact development time.
  • Checklists are provided in two levels of detail: summary and detailed. These are augmented by exhibits in the back of the book that provide an example schedule that you can use to benchmark your own plan, a project selection matrix, and an excerpt from a master task list. Using these you can refine your own planning approach.
At first glance the price-per-page ratio will make you question the value of this book. However, consider that you'll have a succinct guide that distills the essentials. This book can easily save you 50 hours or more of planning time, as well as step you through the process from the viewpoint of an experienced assessor. When you factor this into the equation the value becomes apparent. More importantly, much of the material and the approach can be refactored into planning for other types of assessments - not only for SEI CMM, making this book extra valuable to consultants who engage in assessments of all types.

Take-Aways. Although you'll have to purchase Mr. Dymond's books, I've collected papers that he's written that will be of interest if you are among the target audience for his books:

The last two fit nicely within Linda's organizational and core processes theme.

An added bonus is a Word document titled Capability Maturity Model Benefits by Richard Waina. Enjoy.