We are a ten-year-old product company and would like to conduct a CMMI Appraisal. We want to use the Staged Representation but thought we had to be appraised first at Maturity Level 2, then, 3, 4, and finally, 5. Can't we just go right for ML 5?
Sure, you could try do that, meaning that it is not explicitly forbidden by the SEI, but I have to ask, why would you want to? The entire purpose of the Staged Representation is to first build a foundation, then institutionalize it, then identify the variation in the process, and then optimize it. I don't see any value in skipping any of these steps - in fact you would not be successful if you tried to skip any of it!
Even though you may skip appraisals, you will never be able to achieve ML5 without performing the processes, building the foundation, gathering and analyzing the data, and so on. So, there really is no "skipping."
If you choose to do all of the work, but skip the appraisals and attempt to achieve ML5 during your first SCAMPI A, you should be aware of two things:
First, even though it's a ML5 appraisal, you will still be appraised on the ML2, 3, and 4 process areas - just in a more rigorous fashion than if they had just been done at ML2. This is because once we pass ML2, we are including GP3.1 and GP3.2 for all of the ML 2 Process Areas.
The second, and this is really the kicker, is that the SEI has said that they will be scrutinizing and auditing EVERY ML4/5 appraisal, and giving special attention to those that attempt to go directly to ML4 or ML5. Red flag.
One of the reasons for this is that they have stated that no consultant, or LA, that was competent and ethical would recommend such an approach, except under the most extreme circumstances.
I worked with a company once that was ISO9001 Certified, had achieved CMM ML5, had adopted ITIL and were rated at SPICE Level Three. They were ready for ML5, and didn't require the appraisals at ML2, 3. and 4.
If this is your situation, then great! If not, I wonder if your CMMI Consultant really is "top notch!"