Thursday, June 28, 2018

CMMI in Aerospace - some things to think about

Dear Appraiser - we're a large aerospace engineering company, and we're just not sure how CMMI fits into our company. Give me some ideas please! ~Paul G Cincinnati, OH.

Paul - CMMI and Aerospace? it's a great question because it opens up the idea of multi-dimensional process deployment - something I'm super passionate about.

You see, we tend to think about process in a single dimension - we plan, we estimate, we design, build, test, and deploy.  But no!  It's much more interesting and cool than that.

In a typical aerospace, defense, or aviation organization, there are many sub-organizations that execute a process, but they each need to do it differently.  On size does not fit all.  And then after they are done their pieces, they need to do it together. So there isn't ONE process - there are many.

Even though the CMMI has one "Project Planning" process area, and one "Technical Solution" process area, they are MANY instantiations of it within a large aerospace organizations - and each one is different - because each one has different goals, objectives, and needs.

For instance, the software teams may be using a product backlog, planning poker, and an entire set of agile frameworks, methods, and techniques.  The Systems Engineering team may be using MS Project, Gantt charts, and a set of waterfall techniques.  Yes - they're both executing Project Planning.

Take this organization that I work with in Mason, OH.  They design and build cameras and other optical equipment that goes in to space.  They have the following types of independent engineering organizations.:

Systems Engineering
Design Engineering
Software Engineering
Hardware Engineering
Validation Engineering
....and more.

Each one of these groups has to 1) estimate the work, 2) plan the work 3) understand the requirements, 3) design the solution 4) integrate the solution design with the OTHER engineering disciplines, 4) build the solution 5) integrate it with the OTHER engineering disciplines and 6) test both the individual and integrated solutions and finally, implement the overall solution.

Each one of them is very different - with different goals and objectives, and a flexible set of processes is needed.  The CMMI does a great job at providing the architecture for this.

How does CMMI play into this?

CMMI helps us create an architecture that aerospace, defense, and aviation companies can use to develop a flexible and tailorable process that makes sense to all of the sub-organizations. The opposite of "everyone doing everything the same," the CMMI enables a process that is modifiable and flexible enough to meet the needs of all of the various engineering disciplines.

So take a look.  At its core, the CMMI is not a process (or really even a process model), it's a flexible, agile, and modifiable architecture that let's you apply different processes and behaviors at all levels, in multiple dimensions, to deliver high quality products.

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

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.

Visit for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation, software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

No comments: