Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Can we get to Level Three in 12 months?

Dear Jeff,

I represent a privately held software firm. We were assessed as a CMMI Level 2 organization the first week of April, 2007, and the executive team has challenged the Development organization to achieve CMMI Level 3 within a year. We have had an SEPG in place for over a year, and presently the only full-time person committed to this effort is myself. I have extensive CMM experience from Motorola, as well as leading our CMMI effort here the last 18 months. I know 12 months from CMMI Level 2 to CMMI Level 3 is a challenge, but I truly believe we are capable of obtaining this goal, but to be truthful, the amount of time the Development staff has to dedicate to quality initiatives is minimal. How realistic is it for a software company who has essentially one product that has developed over the course of 10-15 years to achieve CMMI Level 3 within a year after achieving CMMI Level 2?

What are the unforeseen challenges in your opinion?

Level Two to Three in one year is possible . . . but extremely challenging. It comes down to a question of resources and commitment. The SEI expects it to take 18-24 months to make this transition but I believe that is primarily a guideline that assumes that no mature ML 3 process are in place and that you just went from zero to ML 2. That doesn't sound like your situation. Your experience with Motorola, a premier player in the CMMI, will help you here.

Having your SEPG in place will help, but you're going to have to figure out how to get work done. There will more than likely be a large amount of work to do over the first few months and, since you're a lone ranger, that will be difficult, if not impossible.

I advocate a "virtual team" approach that allocates 5% of all participants time (2 hours per week) in which they focus, under your direction on three components: process design, communication, and education. Once you scope this out, plan it, and make task assignments you become a project leader for the development of a large process "product."

To learn more about this you can download my white paper "Agile CMMI" at www.broadswordsolutions.com/resources.php. The second half of the document explains this technique in detail.

The first test is management's commitment. Tell them about your plan to harness the power and brains of all of your software engineering colleagues to make this real (and to aid in adoption) and gauge their reaction. If you sense enthusiasm and PUBLIC support, then jump in. If not, run away as fast as you can.



Anonymous said...

I work for a very large company, well know in the aerospace industry. In 2003 we evaluated our self against CMMI Level 3 criteria and it wasn't until almost 10 months later that we perform our class A appraisal. It takes time, but more important an organization fully engaged in commitment to improvement. We had a dedicated team group of 30 members responsible for developing and launching the process based on the CMMI model and the Quality organization of +230 members to ensure adherence to the process. Your organization members must be committed and engage. If they are not up for the challenge, is not worth the hassle. But if they are, you’ll see the difference and the improvement. Last October we reached CMMI Level 5 across our entire division, over 4K employees.

Jeff Dalton said...

That's an awesome accomplishment. Congratulations and thanks for your post!