Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What are the steps to achieving a Maturity Level of CMMI?

Dear CMMI Appraiser:

For years, I have heard that the CMMI was a framework for helping us take action to improve engineering, and through that process, become a great company. We never did become a great company, but now our customers are saying we have to do this. Where do we start? ~ Carla F.

Carla, you could start by thanking your customers. They want you to do the things you’ve known you should do anyway. It reminds me of my relationship with my personal fitness trainer – except your customer is paying you!

In many ways, the journey to adopting the CMMI is similar to the journey to becoming physically fit. Companies that work with Broadsword go through a predefined, fully detailed progression in their quest to achieve CMMI Maturity Level 3, for instance, and put themselves on the path to becoming a great company. Here’s a graphic of the progression we take you through:

Step 1: SCAMPI C – The SCAMPI C (Gap Analysis) is first and foremost a way for your company to find out about itself and how you stack up against the CMMI model.  It’s also an opportunity for your CMMI Appraiser to learn as much about your company as he can, and for your company to learn about the CMMI Appraiser. This is important because you will be spending a lot of time together, generally a year or two, making decisions that will have an serious impact on the behaviors of your people. And so, helping both sides feel more comfortable with each other is one of the most beneficial aspects of the SCAMPI C.

As a result, you will hopefully realize that the CMMI isn't a paper-chase, it's about making your company great!

Step 2: Training – There are a number of training courses that need to take place in your journey to becoming a great company. First is the introduction to CMMI training course, followed by training on how to become expert process engineers.  We teach you how to execute our AgileCMMI methodology, and how to design and develop processes. Your entire appraisal team goes through the training, plus anyone who plays a key leadership role in the company in terms of how they want the work performed, such as project managers, program leaders and line managers.

Step 3: Tune-up – After the SCAMPI C, and often concurrently with the training, we will provide you with a plan that identifies all the tuning up or development of processes that must occur in your company. The plan includes everything you need to do in the context of AgileCMMI, the Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to be created, as well as all of the releases and iterations that must take place between now and your SCAMPI B Appraisal.

Step 4: SCAMPI B – After you’ve done the training and the tune up, you are ready for the SCAMPI B Appraisal. The SCAMPI B is an formal appraisal that serves as a tool to give you the information you need to completely understand your current state in relation to the CMMI. It gives you the information you need to determine whether you will succeed in the formal SCAMPI A, as planned.

Step 5: SCAMPI A –After you’ve satisfactorily completed your SCAMPI B, you are ready for a formal SCAMPI A appraisal, and you’ll want do all you can to assure a positive result. If your SCAMPI A is successful, congratulations!

But don’t party too hardy and forget everything you’ve learned. To return to the fitness metaphor, once I’ve achieved my target weight, I don’t want to celebrate by eating a gooey chunk of chocolate cake. Being CMMI Maturity Level 3 doesn’t make you a great company. It just means you are sufficiently equipped with the infrastructure and tools you need to become a great company. Whether or not you make the changes in your company – and make the commitment to long-term health as an organization – is up to you.

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

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

Visit www.broadswordsolutions.com for more information about running a successful CMMI program.

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