It’s almost here!  The CMMI Conference (a/k/a SEPGNA 2014) is coming to the Washington, DC area on May 6-7 and, if you’re just joining us, we’re counting down my Top 5 Reasons for going (back) to SEPGNA 2014.  Today we’ve arrived at Reason #2!

Drum roll, please! Reason #2 is …

To spend quality time with your customers.

We all know that one secret to success in business is building strong relationships with the customer.  This is especially true in the context of CMMI, where we are focused on helping companies improve performance, drive Process Innovation, and be the great companies they are striving to be.

If you are a CMMI practitioner or a supplier of CMMI services, the CMMI Conference is more than an opportunity to acquire knowledge that can help you be a better resource for your customers.  It’s a rare chance for you to spend quality time with customers off-site in a dedicated learning environment.  So consider the following question as a personal challenge:

Will you take the opportunity to build stronger relationships with your customers by bringing them to the CMMI Conference?

As part of my commitment to the CMMI, I always invite my customers to the Conference.  Here’s why I am encouraging my fellow CMMI Institute Partners, consultants and suppliers to do so as well:

Where else do you get to spend quality time with your customers?  So often in our day-to-day work, we are on-site to solve problems.  There are subgroups to be evaluated and artifacts to be collected.  But during the 2-day Conference near Washington, DC, you’ll be able to connect with your customers on a personal level.  You’ll dine together, attend sessions together and – with networking events scheduled in the evenings – you’ll be able to hang out and just talk.

Where else do you have the opportunity to guide your customers through the learning process?  Think about it.  Would you rather have your customers try to grasp the real meaning of CMMI on their own, or with you by their side?  Would you rather leave them in the dark about the long-term value the Model provides, or help them see the light?  Clearly, you want to be there in the sessions with them.  You want to ask them about what they are learning.  And when questions inevitably come up, you want to be right there to answer with real-live examples from their current projects.

Where else can you introduce your customers to the leaders of the CMMI Institute, as well as other adopters of the CMMI?  For me, this is one of the most rewarding experiences at the CMMI Conference.  I love to see new friendships form when I connect my customers to others who have overcome the same problems they’ve been facing.  Plus, this will be my first opportunity to introduce several of my customers to the smart folks from the CMMI Institute, the sponsors of the CMMI Conference.

In my opinion, missing the chance to invite customers to SEPGNA would be a mistake.  You’d only get half the value.  Sure, you’ll learn plenty of strategies, tips and techniques that can make you a better CMMI consultant or CMMI supplier.  But you will have bypassed the opportunity to integrate customers with each other, so that they can have a support system of their own.  And that would be to deprive them of something extremely valuable that they can’t get anywhere else.

As I said in a previous post, the CMMI Conference is a chance to talk about things that matter!  You and your customers are going to have a blast together.  What could be better for your relationship?

So let’s be generous and share the knowledge.  I urge each of you to invite at least one customer, whether they be internal or external, to come to our nation’s capital and take part in the conversation.  And don’t forget to register here.

The countdown continues!  Check back soon for Reason #1.

Register for the CMMI Conference.

Like this post?  Please forward to your nearest engineering or software professional!

Jeff Dalton is President of Broadsword Solutions Corporation  and Chair of the CMMI Institute’s Partner Advisory Board.

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