Friday, November 25, 2011

What Process Areas should the SEPG be assessed on?

Dear Appraiser, 

In planning an SEPG review, I am including OPD, OPF, and OT Process Areas in scope.  Am I on the right track for an internal audit that is limited to the SEPG group covering only those 3 PA's?

I have a PPQA role in the organization and have been asked to do an internal SEPG review of a newly formed development group targeting a CMMI Appraisal at ML3 in 2012 ~Ingrid

Dear Ingrid,

When you say "SEPG" I am going to assume you mean "the people responsible for the process."  The SEPG is not strictly part of CMMI, but in my CMMI Training classes I spend a good deal of time talking about the role and types of people who should serve in this important group.  This group goes by many names (a little bit like Gandalf in Lord of the Rings), but usually focuses on the prioritization, approval, development, deployment, and monitoring of the set of techniques and processes used by your organization.

If you started 10 years ago, you must have a very mature SEPG with its own processes that are improved, maintained and monitored.  If you're close to being appraised at ML3, I'm sure you have ALL of that under control! ;)

As steward of the process, the SEPG (or EPG, EPI, SPEG, PIT, etc) performs and improves many of the practices in OPF, OPD, and sometimes even OT.  I say "many" because there are some that address process infrastructure (like "Process Asset Library" and "Measurement Repository") that are not practices at all.  And then there are some that are often performed by other people like "Deliver Training" in OT.  The SEI has done a decent job at spreading the wealth!

So OPD and OPF are good places to start.  Easy right?  


Depending on how it has been structured over the year, there are probably other practices to consider.  The CMMI Appraiser in me is asking "how about GP 2.8" for all of the Process Areas?"  Who is monitoring the process if not the SEPG?  How about GP2.9 and the aggregate data that's collected for compliance?  Who is looking after that.  Trending of metrics?  Reporting to management on process performance (GP2.10)?  How about managing improvement ideas (GP3.2) and managing tailoring guidelines (IPM)?  These are all things a CMMI Appraiser or CMMI Instructor will be on the lookout for.

Another way to think about it, as opposed to by Process Area, is to consider all of the things needed to maintain, monitor, and improve the process infrastructure - and that's what you need to be looking at.  If the SEPG doesn't do those things - who does?  As a CMMI Consultant I often spend more time working with the SEPG than I do working withe teams to develop the process!

Training could be a whole other ball game.  Sometimes the SEPG handles training - sometimes it's part of HR or another part of the company.  Just remember that, if the SEPG handles it, they need to be sure that a training "capability" is in place.  Another word for that is "infrastructure."  If they sanction "OJT" as their method that might work, if they actually DO have OJT training that has an infrastructure.  With your sized organization I would assume a more formal program that included strategic and tactical plans, materials, trained trainers, and well defined training for practitioners by role. If I were providing CMMI Consulting to you, this is exactly what I would recommend.

Should people be trained on CMMI?  A lot of people (including CMMI Lead Appraiser's that I know) say "no."  I used to think this also.  But the last few years, whenever I teach an "internal" CMMI course" I always hear that they wished they had sent more people to the class.  Maybe that's because I include a lot of additional material about making it real though.

One more thing - the SEPG doesn't get a free pass.  They ALSO have all of the GP's to consider.  How are they being monitored?  Do they follow their process?  Are they trained?

It's important work - but you sound like the right person for the job.  Good luck! 

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, Candidate SCAMPI Team Leader Observer, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations.  Jeff has taught thousands of students and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Learn more about CMMI Appraisals at

No comments: