We were wondering how to determine if SAM was applicable to our organization? Can you give us any advice?
Sure! Back when I was a novice Lead Appraiser my SEI observer, the very knowledgeable and all-around nice guy Steve Masters, told me that "SAM is your friend." That has always stayed with me as I've worked with many clients and tried to reach a deeper understanding of the meaning and value of the CMMI model.
I think what he meant was that Supplier Agreement Management (SAM) could be used in many situations that might not technically be "required" for an appraisal, but can help you nevertheless.
So this brings us to the amazing realization that the CMMI is really for improvement, and not meant to achieve a "level."
Oh, I know it's hard to believe my friends, but it's true!
As you probably know, SAM is the only Process Area that a Lead Appraiser and Sponsor can agree is "Not Applicable" to an Organizational Unit (the group being appraised). The unfortunate outcome of the way this is described and implemented by the SEI is that virtually all organizations that seek a Maturity Level spend (too much) time trying to figure out how to frame the "N/A" argument so that it's credible. I think this is a mistake as SAM can be extremely useful.
SAM is useful for many internal relationships - and perhaps this is where it is most valuable. If IT's development organization needs services from it's operations/infrastructure group, SAM can be very useful. If the sales organization needs services from the Call Center, SAM can be very useful..... and so one.
The same is true for external suppliers where a bona-fide contract must be put in place.
So, whether or not your conducting an appraisal, SAM might be of use. But for those of you focused on an appraisal here are some of my rules for making the determination (keeping in mind that every situation requires discussion and context):
- do you procure any services or products from an external firm that builds a component or part of a component that gets integrated into your product? Yes, SAM should be applicable.
- do you depend on any external service or product that is required for you to complete your work? If so, SAM is probably applicable.
- do you use contract labor where the people are de-facto members of your team using your process? If yes, then SAM is probably not applicable.
- does an internal call center take calls for the sales department? If yes, SAM might be applicable.
You get the picture. The bottom line is, if you have risk and you expect performance, SAM is your friend.