Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How does the CMMI compare to TS and other manufacturing performance models?

We are a manufacturer and the use of CMMI has been mandated by our customers, whilst this fits well with 85% of the organisation which is software manufacture it is hard to fit it to the hardware manufacture side; especially when one compares them with manufacturing specific models like APQP/TS 16949.

When one does a gap analysis on TS, RD, VAL, VER, and PI versus the 24 disciplines in APQP there is a large gap around the area of “design for excellence” (DFMA, D and P FMEA, MSA, PPAP etc.).

How easy is it to hybridize the model and still satisfy external appraiser’s requirements? When will we see a constellation for manufacturing? Am I the only person wrestling with this issue?
Is the answer really 42?

The CMMI is best suited for software, although it can be applied elsewhere. Here in the US, defense contractors who are required to achieve CMMI ML2 or 3 tend to segment off their software organizations for their appraisals and declare their manufacturing operation “out of scope.” This is allowed in the CMMI model, and is known as an “organizational unit,” but some companies choose to submit the entire company to an appraisal. If you believe you need or want to included your entire company in an appraisal you should not have any trouble making it work for you (and to benefit from it).

You’re right, TS is better suited for manufacturing – although in practice it isn’t that much different than CMMI. At its core it’s nothing more than a product management behavioral model – it does not instruct a company “how” to do anything – it’s merely a set of guidelines of “what” should be done.

If you analyze the text of the PA’s you’ll see it is broken into “Goals” and “Practices” (both the Generic and the Specific variety). The Goals are required and could apply to almost any type of industry, and are not really software specific. The practices (at least the Specific variety) are NOT required, but expected, and they DO read like a software process. From purely an appraisal perspective, you could replace the Specific Practices with some that are more appropriate for your manufacturing environment, and meet the Goals using those as “alternative practices.” This is perfectly acceptable in the CMMI and as an appraiser I would not have any trouble “passing” an organization that took this approach.

As to the gap analysis you’ve described, you are not comparing “apples to apples.” In listing the CMMI “engineering” PA’s and comparing them to DFMA, FMEA, etc you are leaving out the PA’s such as OPP/QPM, OID/CAR which would play a role and be integrated with VAL and VER to form the equivalent. Unlike other process models, the CMMI is a highly cross-functional interdependent model and needs to be viewed as a system – not stand alone PA’s.

I would recommend that you do a high-level mapping of how the CMMI would align with the more manufacturing specific model. I think you’ll find that they are equivalent with a little bit creative integration – and that is the way the model is intended to be used. I admit it’s not as clean as we may like it to be – but it does work.

You will want to meet with and explore your Lead Appraiser’s intellectual flexibility on this – not everyone has a “systems of systems” capability and it will require this to successfully understand how you’re applying the CMMI model. Contrary to myth, not all LA’s are brilliant and wise!

I wouldn’t expect the a manufacturing – or other industry specific – constellation anytime soon. It’s not a constellation that’s on the “horizon.” The next release will be “SERVICES.” And no, you’re not the only one wondering about this.

If the answer is not “42” it’s “B.” Either one will yield the same result J

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