Friday, December 12, 2008

What is the minimum number of projects that need to be appraised?

Is there a minimum requirement for the number of projects that must be appraised for a L3 rating?  I was told that at a minimum 3 projects from the organization must be appraised for all SPs and all the SPs should have been implemented across all the 3 projects. Is that true?
Not exactly.  This seems like an easy question to answer, but like everything else related to the CMMI, it's more complex than it appears.  The SCAMPI MDD (and LA's guide for conducting appraisals) says that:
"In appraisals where the reference model scope includes any project-related PA, the organizational scope must include at least one focus project. If the organizational unit includes more than 3 projects, then the organizational scope must include sufficient focus projects and non-focus projects to generate at least 3 instances of each practice in each project-related PA in the model scope of the appraisal."
It then goes on to say:
- Focus projects must provide objective evidence for every PA within the model scope of the appraisal which addresses model practices applicable to those projects (this includes not only "SPs" but applicable "GPs as well!)
- Non-focus projects must provide objective evidence for one or more PAs within the model scope of the appraisal which address practices performed on projects. 
- Support functions must provide objective evidence for their functional areas (for instance Process audit function, SEPG, management, etc).
So, my reading of the MDD is that if you have three or more active projects, then you must come up with evidence for AT LEAST three instantiations of each practice across the focus and non-focus projects and at least ONE of them has to be a focus project (providing evidence for all PAs).  In this example, you could have a minimum of three focus projects, or you could have one focus project and ten (for example) non-focus projects, as long as you have three examples of evidence for each practice.
The MDD doesn't directly speak to what happens if you have only ONE project (I have several clients in this situation).  My interpretation of the rules here is that if you have only one active project, then that one project is a "focus" project and all of the evidence has to come from that single instantiation.
This scenario is unlikely in ML3 though, because you'll also need to add in "support" groups such as SEPG, QA audit, process management, et al and you will end up with more than one "project" to appraise then.
One more wrinkle.  The sample to be appraised is something that the Lead Appraiser and the Sponsor need to agree upon.  I received an RFP once from a DOD contractor that said they had "already determined the appraisal projects" and that there was no opportunity to discuss it.  That's a no-no.  The LA needs to buy into the sample in order to maintain integrity of the appraisal.

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