Organizations face enormous pressure to expand operations, increase profits, and reduce costs as new and existing competitors challenge their position in an ever-changing landscape. New technology, emerging economies, and increased threats from competition require that companies remain innovative, efficient, and lean. In order to drive effectiveness and maintain focus on delivering customer’s expectations, and staying in tune with what customers will demand in the future, organizations look for proven methods for managing process, product, and performance.
Improve Performance with CMMI for Development Appraisal
A common methodology that may be adopted for introducing process control and improvement is the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) framework. CMMI is a process approach that provides organizations with the appropriate processes to improve their performance. CMMI was developed by a group of experts from industry, government, and the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) and is now supported and managed by the CMMI Institute. CMMI may be applied to a wide variety of organizations, from small to large, across multiple sectors. There are three CMMI constellations in which to fit any type of organization:
- CMMI for Development (CMMI-DEV) provides a detailed, integrated framework for organizations that develop products and services.
- CMMI for Service (CMMI-SVC) provides a comprehensive set of processes for organizations that provides services.
- CMMI for Acquisition (CMMI-ACQ) provides best practices for organizations that acquire products or services.
Benefits of a SEI CMMI Appraisal
The CMMI frameworks provide guidance to help organizations provide decreased costs, improved on-time delivery, improved productivity, improved quality, improved customer satisfaction, and an impressive return on investment. In its research to help organizations improve the quality of their work, SEI established three core areas of importance: people, procedures and methods, and tools and equipment. It is the belief that processes are what hold all of these elements together. Since its inception in 1995, CMMI has focused on the importance of process effectiveness and efficiency and the support it provides people and technology.
Each CMMI constellation is built on a framework of process areas that are interrelated processes that should be addressed to instill best practices and improve performance. Each process area is composed of a collection of practices that when applied together, fulfill various goals within the process. All CMMI models contain sixteen core processes that contain key similarities in each framework, but also may be modified to fit a specific area of interest. Each Process Area consists of specific goals and specific practices, which are unique to an individual process area and generic goals and generic practices, which correspond to each process area. A process area is considered satisfied when both the specific goals and practices and generic goals and practices are successfully implemented.
CMMI Levels of Maturity
The CMMI framework consists of levels of maturity, each level dictates the Process Areas that need to be implemented.
|Processes are unpredictable, poorly controlled and reactive
(not supported by the CMMI Framework)
|Processes characterized for projects – still somewhat reactive|
|Processes characterized for the organization – more proactive than reactive|
|Processes measured and controlled|
|Focus on Process Improvement|
SCAMPI A: Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement
Based on the level of implementation, an organization will seek an appraisal to assess their level of maturity. A Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPI) A verifies compliance of presented artifacts/evidence for each relevant practice, resulting in a rating. The SCAMPI A Appraisal may be Staged or Continuous. A Maturity Level is granted following a Staged appraisal and a Capability Level is granted following a Continuous appraisal.
CMMI-DEV: CMMI for Development
CMMI for Development is a framework for any organization that builds products and/or services. Organizations that are involved with developing may include hardware and software companies, aerospace or automobile manufacturers, defense, telecommunications, etc. CMMI-DEV applies to all organizations that must consider design and engineering during the development of a product or service.
An organization would benefit from employing CMMI-DEV when the guidance is needed to become more efficient due to customer demand to provide better products more rapidly and less expensively. The speed of technology and constant updates and introductions of new products has created a knowledgeable consumer who expects more with less. However, this demand coupled with more complex products and services places a burden on organizations that must be able to manage this process which often involves integrating and acquiring products from a large network of providers.
CMMI for Development Process Areas
CMMI for Development includes process areas that encompass four categories: Engineering (this category is specific to CMMI for Development), Process Management, Project Management, and Support. These areas contain the specific practices expected to contribute to institutionalization. CMMI for Development Maturity Level 3 contains 18 Process Areas:
Generic goals and practices are as equally important as specific practices during implementation and considered to be “generic” as they apply to all process areas. The generic practices are actions necessary to fully instantiate a process area. The Generic Goals and Practices applied to each process area include:
Level 2 – Institutionalize a Managed Process
- Establish an Organizational Policy
- Plan the Process
- Provide Resources
- Assign Responsibility
- Train People
- Control Work Products
- Identify and Involve Relevant Stakeholders
- Monitor and Control the Process
- Objectively Evaluate Adherence
- Review Status with Higher Level Management
In addition to the Level 2 Generic Goals and Practices, at Level 3 and above, organizations must implement the following generic goal and practices across each process area:
Level 3 – Institutionalize a Defined Process
- Establish a Defined Process
- Collect Process Related Experiences
Each process area and corresponding goal entails specific practices to be performed. It is common that organizations have already invested time and resources for fulfilling specific processes and procedures or tools may cover multiple process areas. Since many organizations have implemented partial processes to meet customer requirements, the most practical way to implement CMMI is to evaluate your current processes against each of the required process areas, practices, and goals. After instituting the CMMI framework guidance, the appraisal is a method in which a company can prove that they have successfully implemented the requirements. After documenting processes and performing reviews, a company can then look to a lead appraiser to work with internal appraisers to review its processes and ensure that the company is adhering to the both the specific and generic goals and practices. At the end of the appraisal, the company is presented a report validated by SEI that it can provide to existing and potential customers.
Challenges of a CMMI Appraisal
The challenge that many organizations experience when employing the CMMI framework is the expertise, timeline, and the level of depth that needs to be implemented to meet the principles of the framework and gather artifacts for conformance. When an organization begins to apply the model to their organization, determining the appropriate model for implementation, the scope of the project, and applying redundant or overly documented solutions for common areas and issues can cause the timeline to increase or circumvent user buy-in. By over-engineering processes, creating process without employee involvement, or not providing sufficient explanation to the reason behind the implementation, organizations may expend precious resources and time, and have a less favorable opinion of the benefits of the CMMI methodology.
Collectively, these process areas are practices integrated into an organization that want to achieve a certain level of process maturity and appraisal rating. An organization must implement all of the required components (the goals) of the applicable framework. Additionally, an organization must implemented the expected component which are the practices typically needed to accomplish a goal. An organization may demonstrate that they meet a goal without implementing all practices if they can demonstrate a goal is fully satisfied by another path of implementation. However, it is atypical that an organization would not implement all of the required and expected components of each process area within their level of maturity. An organization must demonstrate that each process is implemented through evidence in the forms of artifacts (records) and affirmations (interviews) during the appraisal.
CMMI has multiple frameworks and levels of maturity which can be complicated to understand how to implement at your organization. Organizations need to decide what area(s) of their business should implement the framework, which constellation to select, the maturity of the model to apply for an appraisal, the types of tools and methods to use for an effective and maintainable system, employee participation, and how to navigate through an appraisal to demonstrate conformance. Based on the level of effort and perceived complexity, many organizations are looking for consultants to:
- Reduce the timeframe for implementation to meet customer and bid requirements;
- Understand how to implement best practice methodology and establish metrics to monitor and improve performance;
- Understand the best approach to integrate the CMMI framework with existing processes;
- Implement guidance to ensure that process improvement facilitates efficiencies instead of adding unnecessary documentation
- Select the lead appraiser that provides the most value to the organization and ensure successful achievement of appraisal rating.