Saturday, August 9, 2008

Should SAM Apply to internal support groups like QA?

Congratulations on your blog! I visit it often to get the right answers about CMMI. This time, I have a question for you about SAM

We are medium-sized organization that is implementing CMMI ML 2 and we have a QA internal group that support all the project groups for ver & val activities.

Should this organization use SAM to define the services agreements between these two groups?

To SAM or not to SAM - that is the question! This is oft debated in the Lead Appraiser community, because the SEI, in it's wisdom (and I'm not even being sarcastic here) has agreed that SOMETIMES SAM just doesn't apply to an organization and, as such, may be declared Not Applicable for purposes of the appraisal.

Let's separate the appraisal from actual process adoption - which should be pretty close but in practice sometimes is not.

For a SCAMPI ML2 appraisal, the term "supplier" applies to any organization, internal or external, for which you create and maintain agreements for the delivery of products and/or services that are integrated into your products or services.

So, in that scenario, I sometimes see software engineering organizations using SAM to manage the relationship and service-level agreements with the infrastructure (servers and networks) group, or maybe with a testing organization. This makes a lot of sense to do and if you are organized that way, then GREAT! In that scenario SAM could apply to you.

Settled? Not so fast!

Many organizations do NOT run their businesses that way, and, especially for the smaller groups, SAM can be useless overhead and is often declared "NA" if the groups are internal.

Now, I've heard some LA's "declare" (as if they're Zeus) that SAM MUST be applied in this scenario - and this is where I violently disagree with some LA's slave-like adherence to the model (if you hear them say anything like "the SEI makes you . . . " in any way, then run away as fast as you can!).

If this is your scenario, why not just include those groups in the scope of the appraisal, so they would be appraised just like any other part of the organization? This approach more than meets the spirit of the model if you also include them as part of the appraisal scope AND there is no need to create and maintain an entire set of process assets related to SAM.

ahhh! Less work - I love it!

So, in your scenario, the QA group would be interviewed and would need to produce evidence for VAL and VER (and probably some for REQM, PP, and PMC as well).

Of course, all bets are off with a TRUE external organization - say if you decide to contract out your QA to a third party. Then SAM probably would apply to your CMMI effort.

Good luck!

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