Friday, November 8, 2013

Why is REQM at ML2 while RD is at ML3?

Dear CMMI Appraiser, Why is Requirements Management (REQM) staged at ML2 while Requirements Development (RD) is staged at ML3? Don’t you have to develop requirements before you manage them?

[Dear Readers, our good friend Pat O’Toole, CMMI expert and seasoned consultant, is collaborating with us on a new monthly series of CMMI-related posts, "Just the FAQs." Our goal with these posts is to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions about the CMMI, SCAMPI, engineering strategy and software process improvement. To kick off the series, Pat addresses the MOST frequently asked CMMI-related question of all time - "Why is REQM at ML2 while RD is at ML3?" Take it away, Pat! ~ the CMMI Appraiser]

Thanks, Jeff! It does seem a bit strange that the CMMI authors suggest that you learn how to manage requirements better before you learn how to develop better requirements, doesn't it?  Almost like putting the cart before the horse.

But if you think about it, this situation is no stranger than the authors suggesting you learn how to plan and monitor your design, development, and test activities before you focus on performing those activities better (that is, Project Planning and Project Monitoring and Control are staged at ML2, and yet Technical Solution and Verification are staged at ML3).

In order to understand both of these situations, you have to remember that the CMMI isn't staged in the order that you actually DO things, rather it's staged in the order that the model authors suggest that you IMPROVE them. So the authors are suggesting that you should get better control over your ever-changing requirements as part of ML2’s focus on basic project management. They suggest you will be better served to wrestle this particularly sticky problem to the ground before you invest significant time and effort trying to get better requirements through ML3’s focus on more sophisticated and consistently performed engineering activities.

As indicated above, most people think that “project management” is the foundational concept of ML2, and if that works for you, then fine. But some of us view ML2 as “project triage” – let’s first focus on stabilizing the patient’s vital signs before we perform major surgery. In other words, we believe you should attempt to get some level of control over each project’s chaotic requirements, estimates, suppliers, and configuration items at ML2 before you start trying to establish better ways of performing the various engineering activities at ML3. After all, if you don’t allocate sufficient time to do more than “code and test” today (or, worse yet, just “code”), then what’s the point of trying to improve the engineering practices that you don’t allocate sufficient time and resources to perform anyway?

However, just because the CMMI authors felt that way should not prevent you from doing what is right for YOU – which, by the way, is the underlying philosophy of the continuous representation. If you perceive that your pain is more in the area of RD than REQM, then don't let the way the model is staged dissuade you from addressing things that you believe will alleviate your pain. After all, reducing pain and improving performance is what model-based improvement is really all about!

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

“Just the FAQs” is written/edited by Pat O’Toole and Jeff Dalton. Patrick OToole is Principal Consultant at PACT and Owner, PACT. Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, ScrumMaster, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff pioneered agileCMMI, the leading methodology for incremental and iterative process improvement. He has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Please contact the authors at and to suggest enhancements to their answers, or to provide an alternative response to the question posed. New questions are also welcomed!

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