Thursday, January 17, 2008

Can we go directly to CMMI Level 5?

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!"


Anonymous said...

Our company is certified CMMI level 3 from 2 years.
Please, is it possible to achieve directly the maturity level 5 from the level 3?

Anonymous said...

We are a 10 year old Software company having ISO9001-2000 certified.
We are planning to go for SEI CMM level 4\5?

blakenan said...

First, thanks for this blog. Your balanced and clear commentary is very valuable and appreciated.

Second, in this post you make the statement that the SEI "...have stated that no consultant, or LA, that was competent and ethical would recommend such an approach..." regarding a leap directly to ML5.

Can you provide any details/reference on this statement? I'm trying to bolster a case within my company that a leap straight to ML5 is ill advised and this would help make my point. Thanks again...

Jeff Dalton said...


Right in the Intro to CMMI training materials the SEI cautions against "skipping levels."

The reason is that maturity actually means....well, maturity. Just like a kid can't jump from 8-year-old behavior to 15-year-old behavior, neither can an organization. It doesn't make any difference what kind of documentation or processes are defined (especially true for ML5), it's about behavior.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an older post, but are your recommendations still the same? We too would like to go for the highest level initially and feel our organizational behaviors reflect ML5.....

Jeff Dalton said...

No, as a matter of fact, I feel even more strongly that I did. Maturity Levels exist for a reason - you're not READY for ML5 yet! You may be able to produce a bunch of documents, but you won't get the value.