Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What is CMMI Certification?

What is CMMI Certification? Please give details.

What a great question!

Sometimes we get so buried in process areas, practices, and software process improvement that we forget that there are new people coming into the fold everyday. Thanks!

To begin with, the SEI discourages the word "certification" and instead likes us to refer to a company as having "achieved CMMI Level 2" (or 3/4/5). Organizations achieve CMMI, people do not. Many people use to the word "certification" so you often see it in the metatags of sites (like this one, Broadsword's, and the SEI's). You "achieve" a level of CMMI by building, deploying, and managing a process within your engineering and project management organizations that refelects the best-practices identified in the process areas of the CMMI model, and then, once institutionalization is apparent, having an SEI authorized SCAMPI Lead Appraiser lead you through a SCAMPI Appraisal.

Depending on the appraisal type you select, it will result in either a gap analysis or a set of formal findings that identify your company as having achieved (or not achieved) Level X. You can visit our website at hppt://www.broadswordsolutions.com/resources.php to learn more or go the the SEI's site at http://www.sei.cmu.edu/CMMI. Wikipedia also has a good description of the CMMI as well.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What electronics engineering, software engineering/software development trade magazines do you read?

Dear Readers:

AskTheCMMIAppraiser has been asked to write articles for a number of trade magazines, but before we do we want to hear from you on YOUR favorite engineering, software engineering, electronics, software development, or technology trade magazines. We want to hear straight from you, the professionals, so please leave a comment with your favorite. Thanks!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Do we need a policy for each Generic Practice?

Should policies (Gp2.1) address every Generic Practice (Gp2.1-GP2.10) in a given Process Area?

Hold on a second while I consult my 3725 page policy manual . . . hmmm here it is, policy number 1634111a.7....

I don't mean to make fun of your question, but its circular nature sure gave me a headache!

The purpose of GP2.1 "Establish an organizational policy" is to set the expectation that the processes that are adopted by the organization are to be used. If you have a mature, self-disciplined organization then maybe something very limited is all that is necessary. We test this on appraisals by asking people how they know they're supposed to use a certain process. There answer SHOULD be that management has set that expectation in some way. Sometimes for a less mature organization more detail is needed, but if they need a policy for each practice then you have bigger problems!

GP2.1 i specific to a process area - not the practices in the process area. Sure, we test the institutionalization of a process at the practice level, but it is almost never performed at the practice level. A Process may have practices from many different PA's represented in it, so it's a little tough to set the expectation that a specific practice be performed in a vacuum.

And, since most of the GPs are mirrors of the PAs anyway (GP2.2-2.4 is like PP, GP2.6 is iike CM, GP2.8 is like PMC, etc) then does it really make sense to have policies for each GP?

There is no requirement for this level of granularity in the CMMI - and if it doesn't make sense for your business then there is no reason to do it.

That's what I think. Good luck!


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I don't understand CMMI Certification. Can you clear it up?

I am preparing a presentation on CMMI but I am a bit confused about CMMI certification. I know for example that a person can have a Prince2 certification, but I do not know if there is an equivalent for people on CMMI, about certifications. Indeed, I have read on the internet that a CMMI certification is gained by a company (and not by a person like Prince 2). Is a "CMMI Appraiser" someone who has that "certification"? Is it then obtained by level? What is his role?

It is a company (or part of a company) that achieves a CMMI Maturity Level, not an individual. So, for example, XYZ Company is CMMI Maturity Level Three. A "Certified Lead Appraiser" is an individual who is authorized to conduct a CMMI (SCAMPI) Appraisal and award a Maturity Level to a company. This person has been through extensive training, has decades of experience, has passed both written and verbal exams at the SEI, works for an SEI Partner, and pays annual license fees. Hope this helps.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Our LA says reviewing test results satisfies VER SP2.2. What do you think?

Just wanted to know your clarification on the following

Process Area: Verification (VER)


Specific Practice:

SP2.3 Analyse Peer Review Data



Reviews and Internal Testing (Component, Unit, Assembly, Performance) - The input provided by the Lead Appraiser(LA) was that analysis done in any of the above testing phases by the project can be considered for VER SP2.3


Process Area: Validation (VAL)

Specific Practice:

SP2.2 Analyse the results of the validation activities


The following are being used for addressing VAL SP2.2:

As per the inputs from the LA, evidence of reviews done by customer for design or any inputs provided for testing.



Nice chart!

VER SG 2 is specific to PEER REVIEWS, so testing evidence is not typically what we look at.  If your LA is saying test results, and review of those results, is valid Direct Evidence for VER SG2 then you are getting incorrect information that may not stand up to scrutiny.

VER SG1 and SG3 can indeed be evidenced IN PART by test results and reviews, but not completely.

Peer reviews are structured reviews, walkthroughs, Fagen Inspections or any other formal review of a specific work product or set of work products.  They need to be identified through practices in SG1.  They also must be planned for.

VER SP2.2 “Analyze Peer Review Data” includes not only analysis of the results of the peer review, but an analysis of the preparation, participation, and data associated with the conduct of the peer review itself.

Some of VAL can be evidenced by customer review outputs, but SP2.2 is specific to performing analysis, so just meeting minutes or a sign off falls short of the intention of the model’s authors.  It includes analyzing results against expected results, categorizing or measuring (i.e.; analyzing) the results, and recording information.  Customer inputs for testing does not satisfy this practice.  Again, the information you are getting would not stand up to scrutiny.


Friday, April 10, 2009

How to not pick a Lead Appraiser!

Dear Readers, 
I often get questions about how to go about choosing a Lead Appraiser.  LAs should be selected after a careful discussion of their experience, knowledge, culture, philosophy, and willingness to spend the energy to learn about your business before he/she waves his magic wand and proclaims you MLx (of course, it's more complex than that!).
By way of example, here is the worst possible thing you can do.  I had an inquiry the other day that went like this:
 Riiinnnnng! (telephone)
Me: “hello?”
Caller:  “hi, we’re shopping for an LA to give us a maturity level.”
Me: “Wow.  hmmm.  Great.  Well, uhh, ok...  tell me, what are some the reasons you are interested in achieving a CMMI maturity level?”
Caller: “We don’t need to talk about all that. We have a company from India that says they can take us from ML1 to ML3 in three months for $15,000.  Can you beat that?”
Me and my telephone: “click”
I’m serious.

I was selected to be an Appraisal Team Member but I don't show up on the SEI's site. What gives?

My company is now working on the CMMI-3 appraisal. I attended the "Intro to CMMI" training and also successfully registered as an ATM on the SEI website. Two weeks later, I'm still not showing up in the SEI's system.
I was told by the CMMI consultant to check "My Appraisals", but unfortunately, till now nothing can be found (http://sas.sei.cmu.edu/AppSys/).  I think the Lead Appraiser has NOT selected me from the pool.

What concerns me is any adverse impact on my company's CMMI-3 appraisal if still nothing can be found in "My Appraisals" by the start (even the end) of SCAMPI A appraisal ?

Could you please kindly tell me the criteria for an ATM to participate on a CMMI-3 appraisal?

In order for you to participate and be added to an appraisal a few things have to happen.

     - You need to successfully complete the Intro to CMMI course
     - You have to demonstrate the pre-requisite experience as outlined in the SCAMPI MDD for engineers, project managers, or managers
    - You need to fill out, sign, and submit the SEI’s FERPA form (if you are in the USA)  
    - You need to register on the SEI’s ATM Pool registration page (sas.sei.cmu.edu).  If you were able to do this then the first two items were satisfied.
    - Your Lead Appraiser must create the Appraisal Record in SAS
    - Your Lead Appraiser must add you to the appraisal as an ATM
    - You need to complete the SCAMPI Team Training given by your LA
 This all should be done prior to starting the appraisal, but it MUST be done by the end of the it. 
From your message it sounds as if your LA has either not created the appraisal record, or if they have, has not added you the appraisal team.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Should we be freezing our artifacts six months before our SCAMPI Appraisal?

The Contractor at my Government office who is responsible for building a new, complex IT system will be conducting a SCAMPI-B this fall in anticipation of an eventual SCAMPI-A the following year. 
The Contractor wants to "freeze" various process documents 6 months prior to the SCAMPI-B so that all process output artifacts are in sync with the process description artifacts used in the appraisal. 
Freezing "living" documents for 6 months seems a bit extreme to me, given that some of the documents are deficient in how thoroughly or accurately they describe existing process. Does this seem like a reasonable request? (Note: I'm fine with not changing the actual processes/procedures for 6 months. It's the idea that we won't try to improve the deficient description of those existing processes that concerns me. Particularly since the Contractor continues to bring on new staff, who need to rely on these documents).
I'm visualizing what "freezing the artifacts" might look like - sounds like an old batman episode!
Freezing artifacts is often one of the things we see from organizations that are trying hard to “pass” an appraisal, but perhaps don’t have the processes embedded in their culture (which is kind of the point, isn’t it?). 
It seems as if your contractor is overly risk-averse.  A SCAMPI-B is in itself a risk mitigation event, and to work so hard to reduce risk for this event seems counter-productive.  It’s supposed to uncover problems.
In your case it seems like the risk mitigation strategy they are deploying is in conflict with the very essence of continuous process improvement!  It’s one thing to freeze process – it’s another thing to freeze the outputs.
I usually recommend freezing everything starting with the SCAMPI A Readiness Review (about 60 days prior to the onsite of a SCAMPI A).  Anything earlier than that isn’t productive, in my opionion.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Two more hours until YOUR questions are presented at SEPG 2009!

Yep, in two short hours yours truly will present your questions (and my answers) as part of my "Notes from the Blogosphere" presentation.

Last year attendees rated this #1 at SEPG 2008.  Lots of fun and prizes will be given out.

See you there, we hope!


We're not really sure about IIPD. How does it fit in?

We're trying to reach CMMI ML3.  We don't understand how IPPD fits in.  Is it required?  Is it useful?

IPPD, or Integrated Process and Product Development,  is what is called an “Addition” in the CMMI model.  Unlike the rest of the Goals in ML3, which are required, the Goals in IPPD (two in IPM and two in OPD) are optional when you are trying to achieve ML3.
The Goals of IPPD provide guidance to better manage integrated teams, or teams that cross organizational boundries.  You may not feel you need the practices contained within it, and if that's the case, they are not required.
That said, I think IPPD is great and very useful and should be used to guide you in the way projects, teams, and organizations interact.
But, from a pure ML3 perspective, these Goals are optional.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Jeff Dalton (that's ME!) wins presitgious SEI Member Award at SEPG 2009

In a cermony attended by three-hundred of his peers, Jeff Dalton was awarded the prestigious SEI Member Award for "Outstanding Representative."

This award is given to the SEI Member who has show consistent innovation, new idea generation, and has demonstrated that they "think outside of the box" when it comes to delivering CMMI services.

What do Appraisers look for?

Our company is  aspiring to achieve CMMI level 2.  We have been doing GAP Analysis for level 2. But we always stuck with one question What do CMMI Appraisers look for?

The practices listed in CMMI are  vague. For example in Configuration Management Process Area the first practice says "identify configuration items" .  What if we identify certain CM items which are important according to organization, will appraiser say you didn't add this item in your CM list  and fail us.

What if in some practices we don't see business value and we don't implement, would appraiser say strict "NO" and we fail.

The CMMI model consists of Process Areas, Goals, and Practices (as well as many other things).  As a Lead Appraiser it is my duty to verify that every Goal (specific Goal or Generic Goal) within the targeted maturity level, has been "satisfied."  There is no opportunity for you to declare a goal "out of scope," with the possible exception of those within Supplier Agreement Management."  We also EXPECT to see that all of the practices are being performed, or we expect you to demonstrate an alternative practice.  The practices are used to satisfy the goals.

The example work products under each practice give you some idea of the types of evidence we are looking for - but it is only an example list - there are many other possibilities.

We are looking for two pieces of evidence - one "Direct" and one "indirect" which could also be an "affirmation" or a verbal statement.  Both pieces have to be there to you to succeed for each practice.

Is there a simple book with a set of steps for achieving CMMI ML2?

We are a small business that provides federal government contractors and  staffing augmentation to various state and local government agencies. We are finding that more of the federal work we are going after requires at least CMM Level 2.  I am trying to understand the easiest way that we can get to the level 2 benchmark. Can we simply document our backoffice processes. Do we need to also document our CRM & HRM process? Where do we start? I think our situation is much simplier than documenting a full SDLC methodology. Is there a simply book that says follow these steps? Please advise.
The CMMI for Services, which sounds like the "flavor" (or constellation) of CMMI that you would use, has 25 Process Areas.  In Maturity Level Two there are eight process areas that must be satisfied and appraiser using an external SCAMPI Lead Appraiser.
Those eight process areas are: Project Planning, Project Monitoring and Control, Measurement and Analysis, Configuration Management, Process and Product Quality Assurance, Supplier Agreement Management, Requirements Management, and Service Delivery.
In order to achieve Maturity Level Two you must demonstrate sustained, consistent processes performance in all the Process Areas, with the POSSIBLE exception of Supplier Agreement Management.  You demonstrate this by defining, using, and then being appraised on your company's standard processes.
You probably have less work to do in the CRM/HR area than in the area that focuses on the development, maintenance, delivery, and monitoring of your company's services.
These processes don't come out of a book - they are YOUR processes, so it would be difficult to write a book that was specific to your company.
Your best bet is to get smart about the CMMI by taking the CMMI Intro class from an SEI Partner, download the CMMI-SVC specification from www.sei.cmu.edu/CMMI (only read Part 2 for now!), and then engage a professional to help you navigate the roadmap.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

SEPG 2009 Starts Tomorrow!

We're in San Jose this weekend wrapping up a two day meeting with the Broadsword clan.  Don't miss out on this awesome event!

Tuesday: SEI Member Lunch!
Tuesday: CMMI or Agile: Why Not Embrace Both! with me, Mike Konrad, and David Anderson
Wednesday: JCI Experience Report with Ross Timmerman and me
Wednesday night: Broadsword Cocktail Mixer! Fairmont hotel, Garden Room at 5:30 - win an iPod Shuffle!
Thursdsay: MORE Notes from the Blogosphere.  YOUR QUESTIONS on display at SEPG 2009!

Hope to see you there!  


Do we need to have a plan for every process area?

GP2.2 says "Plan the Process" and I’ve been trying to find out, to no avail, do we need separate plans for:  Integrated Project Management (IPM),  Technical Solution (TS),   and  product Integration (PI)?
The intent of GP2.2 is not to have a separate plan for each process, but to account for the tasks and deliverable of the process within your integrated plan.  This is the best way to institutionalize the process is to plan for it, monitor that plan, and take corrective action when something does not adhere to the plan.
If you take REQM as an example, wouldn't you plan for eliciting their needs, reviewing the requirements, performing validation, updating traceability, and all of the other practices?  In a way, the plan DRIVES the process, so it's pretty important.
So, no, you don't need a separate plan for each PA, but your plans do need to contemplate important process steps, and that's covered in IPM.

Do we need separate policies for every Process Area?

We're working towards ML3 and are trying to understand how to address GP2.1.  Our consultant said LA's will only accept a "policy book" with a policy for each PA signed off on by management. Is that true?

Well, you couuuuuuuld do it that way, but why would you?  Either your consultant has never done a successful process implementation, or he's looking for work to do!

From a process perspective, what is the practical difference between:

IPM and PP?
PP and PMC?
TS and PI?
REQM and RD?

The answer is that these are not silos, but threads, and the expectations (policy) of using the process (and the process itself) should be based around those threads, not around the PAs.

So you might have one policy for the Project Management PAs, another around the Engineering PAs, and so on.  The categories in the CMMI continuous representation (Project Mgmt, Process Mgmt, Support, and Engineering) might be a good place to start.


We are a testing company going to ML3. Do we need to perform TS and PI?

We are a testing company in SoCal.  We want to go to ML3 and our appraiser tells us we can leave Technical Solutions and Product Integration out of scope for our appraisal.  That doesn't sound right - what do you think?

Whoa nellie!  The SCAMPI MDD ia clear on this subject (and I wish more LAs would read it!).  If you’re going to achieve ML3 using the CMMI-DEV Constellation then PI and TS are required.  The only PA you may leave out of scope for an appraisal is POTENTIALLY Supplier Agreement Management (SAM).  So yes, you would need a policy to set expectations for TS and PI, a process to follow, tailoring guidelines, and so on. 

Putting aside the SCAMPI requirements, why would a testing organization NOT want to use these process areas?  You select and use technology, write scripts, execute test plans, run regression and integration tests right?  Most of that is covered in TS and PI and is a perfect fit for your kind of business.


Must defect measures be consolidated into the measurement repository?

I met an ATM that told me that an appraised organization failed ML 3 because the LA said it is required to consolidate in the measurement repository data from defects. The measurement repository of the organization contains consolidation of historical effort estimation data. The organization answered to the LA that according to its business objective, historical effort estimation data is the most important data to consolidate, no defects. The LA reply that in ML 3 the measurement repository must contain a set of measures not just one measure. I am not sure if this is right.
Sometimes I just want to take a cricket paddle and swat some of my fellow LA's on the side of head. NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!
Yes, OPD has a requirement for establishing a measurement repository, and the informative material describes what the contents MIGHT be.  No where in that description, or in the process area in general, does it describe specific measures that need to be in the repository - other than to say "product and process measures."
To further make the case, the use of the repository is to satisfy practices in IPM to "plan the project."  In that context, you're argument seems solid to me.  Knowing the little that I know about your experience, and if all else you've said is accurate, I would not approve of your Lead Appraiser's opinion.
You may consider engaging an LA that understands the model better and has more practical experience.

Are Process Performance Models required for QPM?

We are struggling in the creation of Process Performance Model (PPM) which are fit and working. Is it a requirement for ML4 QPM? What are other alternatives for PPM?
Actually, the Goals and Practices in Quantitative Project Management (QPM) don't specifically direct you to use PPMs at all, although it is mentioned in the informative material.  So the simplistic, "answer in a vacuum" is "no." HOWEVER, if you're striving to be a ML4 organization, you must also be performing Organizational Process Performance (OPP), which DOES have a practice that expects process performance models to be developed.
The expectation is that QPM uses these PPMs to plan and manage the project.  So the PPMs originate with OPP, but is used by those who execute QPM (which could be completely different people).
If the reference in OPP to models was only in the practice (SP1.5 - Establish Process Performance Models) then it would only be "expected" (practices are expected, goals are required right?) then I could suggest an alternative, but alas, the Goal (SG1 in OPP) does indeed state the baselines AND models need to be developed.
So, yes, PPMs are required. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Executive Brief Interview with Mike Konrad and Jeff Dalton on CMMI and Agile

CMMI and Agile: Opposites Attract

Nice article on the subject in "Executive Brief."


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Does SAM apply if our customer mandates the supplier?

A company has a customer who supplies software modules that are integrated into the final product. The customer has mandated a 3rd party to supply another software module that is also integrated into the final product.

Is SAM applicable in this case? The company has no contract with either in respect of the supplied modules (other than the contract to deliver the final product). The company has no ability to manage the customer as they would a 3rd party supplier.

Wow, this reminds me of the time I met a judge and asked him "I have this friend . . . !"

It's a really interesting question. We often debate the merit of "alternative practices" amongst the SEI community (read: process nerds) with MOST people insisting that their "alternative implementaion" of SPs are "alternative practices." Usually they are not.  Alternative practices are an accepted, albeit rare, way to satisfy the Goals in CMMI, which I'm sure you know are required.

In this case, I'd say "we've got a live one here maw!"

Most of the practices in SAM SG1 are about selecting and acquiring a service/product from a supplier. Even though you're achieving SG1 your customer situation may very well serve as an alternative for the practices within it. Without knowing all of the details, I'd say there is a good chance you'd be OK here.

It's not so clean for SG2. You do, in fact, accept the product, and I'm sure you make sure that it works correctly, and that it can be integrated into your environment. So you're not completely off the hook for SAM.

Whatever you decide, I suggest you document your situation and when you're ready to engage a Lead Appraiser (hey wait a minute . . . isn't THAT SAM???) you discuss it with him/her to make sure you see eye-to-eye on this. If you don't, get a second opinion.

Friday, February 13, 2009

If we don't use all of the practices on smaller projects, can we still achieve ML2?

We're trying to reach ML2. But we have to deal with both large projects (from 700h to 10,000h) and small projects (<>700h)
When we conduct a SCAMPI A Appraisal we "sample" the projects that an organization is executing.  Even though we may only look at a subset of projects, the expectation is that ALL projects within an organizational unit are performing at ML2 (or 3, 4, or 5).  So that imprecise answer is no, you must be performing all of the practices on all projects.
The more precise answer is that there is room for "alternative" practices.  If you have, say, a one-person project, there should be alternatives to the standard process which is probably designed for teams of programmers.  An example may be practices that require progress reviews.  You may require larger teams to have weekly team meetings that are just for the project team.  In a one-person team, that person is having that same meeting 24x7!  So a practice like that may not be relevant as an event and may not be represented by evidence. 
Now, the GOAL must be achieved - even if an alternative to the practice is performed.  So you just can't do NOTHING, but there is some flexibility in the performing alternates to the practices.
Whether or not your Lead Appraiser understands these alternatives is another story though!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

We're a ML3 company trying for ML4. But we don't understand GP3.2

I’m EPG practitioner of ML3 company and we would like to achieve ML 4. But, I’m not sure for interpreting GP 3.2 in the process. We are so confused whether every process has a measurement metric included in MA.

Because GP 3.2 specifies “collect work product, measures, measurement results, and improvement information derived from planning and performing the process …”.

Could you give me some advice for this?

The more cynical of my Lead Appraiser colleagues might ask “how did you get to ML3 without knowing this?” But I won’t do that. I can think of MANY reasons why this may have occurred!

GP3.2 exists in the model to codify the need to proactively gather information from the project’s use of your process that could be used to improve performance for future projects. This could be “reuse” data, such as useful templates or examples. It could be useful measures that provide the NEXT project with information that would help them. It also could be “lessons learned” gathered from performing retrospectives, post-mortems, and reviews of what worked and what didn’t.

So GP3.2 doesn’t require a metric for every process area, and the Process Area “MA” certainly doesn’t require this.

However, if you’re planning on moving to ML4 you will need to be measuring the performance of selected sub-processes. And to do this you will want to have some granular metrics about the performance of specific sub-processes. One practice that supports this is GP2.8, my favorite, because it requires you to consider these types of measures WAY back in ML2. These measures should help you identify “process levers” that you can manipulate to change the results of a process.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Follow AskTheCMMIAppraiser on Twitter

To receive Tweets set your Twitter account to follow "CMMIAppraiser."  You'll get daily tips and commentary about the CMMI - all for free!


If we don't use Process Action Teams (PATs) will we fail an appraisal?

It may seem like a silly question, but it is important for me to understand. I’m not opposed to PATs, but I just need to know if without PATs we will fail the appraisal. We are going for CMMI Appraisal Level 2.

Thanks for your question.  This business just gets curiouser and curiouser (to borrow a word from Winnie the Pooh).

For the benefit of our readers, a Process Action Team, or PAT, is a group of individuals who focus on developing, deploying, and maintaining one or more processes within the organization's set of standard processes.  Here at the Broadsword labs we call them "SIGs" or Special Interest Groups because, well, we do most things differently around here!

Let's separate out your process improvement program and your Appraisal.  An appraisal is nothing more than a user acceptance test to determine if your processes and it's performance have reached ML2 performance.  These are two completely different events.  Your process improvement program is something that you execute in order to develop valuable and useful processes that give you that extra competitive edge, or if your like a lot of my clients, just helps reduce the chaos.  You might use PATs (or SIGs) to help you do that.  You often see SIGs as part of a ML3 effort as a result of executing the OPF and OPD processes.

But you're not doing that.  You're still going for ML2.  While I might recommend SIGs as part of your program at ML2, I would not be appraising their existence or their performance as part of any ML2 appraisal.  There is NOTHING in the model that mandates that PATs be used.

So the short answer is "NO" you don't need PATs for your ML2 appraisal.

Hope that helps!

How do we apply TS and PI to a pure testing environment?

We provide a pure testing service for one of our clients and we are wondering how to apply TS and PI to these activities.

We are going for CMMI Re-Appraisal (Level 3) during the last part of this month and our Lead Appraiser has clearly said that all process areas, except SAM and those at the organizational level are applicable to even these projects. He wants us to map the direct & indirect evidence against the SP's for TS and PI in the PIID sheet for these two projects.

How does one do that for a projects that is just Testing projects?

Excellent question!  The CMMI, especially the PA's Technical Solutions and Product Integration, are steeped in the language of software development, and it's not always obvious how these might apply to another discipline, such as testing (or paper clip distribution for that matter!)

But first I must digress.  SHAME ON YOUR LEAD APPRAISER for not providing you with some guidance!  Your original message (which I edited because it's my blog not yours) indicated he was insisting on certain things without providing you with some guidance and interpetation of the model.  He should be ashamed.  We're not auditors - the SEI clearly states that a SCAMPI Appraisal is a COLLABORATIVE event, not an audit.  While he can't do the work for you, he should be helping to guide you.  'nuff said.

The good news is it's entirely possible and simple to apply to these two PAs to your situation.

TS: What testing alternatives did you explore?  Did you use a purchased tool, build your own, or reuse something from another project?  Did you write test cases (code)?  Did you reuse them from other projects?  Did you create a test plan with instructions?  I bet you did a lot of this, and these are directly related to practices in TS.

PI: Did you set up and environment for testing?  If you do load, integration, and performance testing you must have determined sequence, developed interfaces. and so on right?  Well, these are good examples of tasks in the PI process area.  By the way, it's some of the SAME evidence you might provide for VAL and VER.

Best of luck on your appraisal!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jeff speaking at SEPG 2009 in San Jose, CA

The SEI's annual conference, SEPG 2009 is coming soon in San Jose, CA.  SEPG is the big one, the place where process geeks like me and you get to come together, network, learn new things, and make jokes that only we will understand ("so a PPQA auditor comes into a bar....").

Taking place March 23-26, the conference draws 1500 of the world's best practitioners of process improvement and features dozens of great speakers including many of my favorites like Pat O'Tool, Steve Masters, Mike Konrad, David Anderson, Hillel Glazer, and Rick Hefner.

Yours truly will be speaking at least three times: a re-dux of last years #1 presentation (as voted by attendees) "MORE Notes from the Blogosphere" in which we'll examine the most common questions posted to "Ask The CMMI Appraiser" and play a game of "Stump the Appraiser" (with plenty of swag), "Successfully reaching CMMI ML2 with Agile Methods" with my friend and client Ross Timmerman of Johnson Controls, and "CMMI or Agile: Why Not Embrace Both" with Mike Konrad and David Anderson.  Also as a back up I hope to be presenting "Encapsulated Process Objects."

Be there or be square.  We'll have a blast!

CMMIAppraiser on Twitter

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

There seems to be redundancy between OPP and QPM. What gives?

I would like to have your viewpoint on the differences between the two PA’s QPM and OPP, especially when the scenario is that the organization has identified sub processes like Cost and Schedule Variance as selected sub processes and all the projects follow this organization wide. Now there seem to be lot of redundancy in that case among various practices of QPM as well as OPP.
Ahhh, the 'ol OPP vs QPM redundancy question!
I'll admit that back in the day I had similar issues with the high maturity process areas, but I've been to the SEI mountain, worshiped at the alter of high maturity, and been fully indoctrinated into the cult-like interpretation of the informative material!  Just kidding, it's great stuff!
I understand that you've identified sub processes that your are monitoring and measuring, and that is great!  But it's not quite what the practices are ALL about.
Think of OPP as setting up an infrastructure and engine for statistical monitoring and analysis - an infrastructure that the projects will later use while the execute processes based upon QPM.  The projects also feed the engine, for OPP is a hungry one!
What kinds of things take place in OPP?  Gaining a solid, statistical understanding of a selected set of sub processes and their performance.  This understanding includes analysis such as the identification of the natural bounds of the process (within control limits) and the use of other methods to understand process performance. We call these "baselines."  It also includes "modeling" which uses the data to predict what will happen (within limits) if certain actions are taken in the future.  We call these "models."
QPM is the CONSUMER of the OPP baselines and models.  When a project starts up, the PM will "compose" the process based on the project's goals/objectives AND the baselines and models made available to her via the OPP-related work.
So, for example, if the project is very high risk, with medium complexity, and a compressed time-frame, the PM might select sub processes from the set of standard processes that will help them succeed given those conditions.  He also will constantly monitor the sub process performance using the tools and methods spawned by OPP-related processes to understand whether or not they are going to meet their objectives.
There is a clear delineation between OPP and QPM - one is a supplier, the other a consumer (and then ultimately a supplier BACK to OPP to feed the baseline data).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What do I need to do to for our company to become CMMI Maturity Level Three

What does our company need to do to become CMMI ML3?
The CMMI is an integrated process model with +-350 distinct practices that define what a “great company” does, at least within it's engineering, product, software, or services organization.  Consider them a list of requirements for your process.  So, your first step is to become smart about the model.
The CMMI model specification can be downloaded from the SEI’s site at www.sei.cmu.edu/CMMI in PDF format, or a better choice is the CMMI book by Mary Beth Chrissis, Mike Konrad, and Sandy Schrum available on Amazon for about $50.00.  It has case studies as well as background information.
A better choice might be for you and your key project leaders and technical leads to take the “Introduction to CMMI” course either at the SEI or from an SEI Partner in your area.  As an alternative, you might consider a ½ day CMMI Executive Briefing.  I give these often with various clients around the country.  You can also download "Agile CMMI" from our website at www.broadswordsolutions.com/resources.php.
There are also numerous presentations, white papers, and documents on the SEI’s web site for free download.  One I would suggest is “CMMI or Agile: Why not Embrace Both!” co-authored by me and a few other folks in the CMMI / Agile world including Hillel Glazer, David Anderson,  Mike Konrad, and Sandy Schrum.
The next step would be to engage a certified CMMI Lead Appraiser to conduct an informal gap analysis (known as a “SCAMPI C”) and perhaps meet with you and your sponsor to develop an appraisal strategy and plan. 
You would then need a period of time (either on your own or with a qualified CMMI consultant) designing, deploying, and using processes based on the CMMI specification.  Along the way you might conduct some informal appraisals, perhaps a SCAMPI “B,” and then, when you are ready, a SCAMPI “A” appraisal.
A SCAMPI “A” is a rigorous, time consuming, intensive event that takes weeks (or months) to prepare for, and then requires a 1-2 week on-site appraisal conducted by a certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser with a trained appraisal team.  The Lead Appraiser will lead you and team through the SCAMPI appraisal which will result in you achieving (or not achieving!) maturity level two.
Whew!  There’s a lot in here.  It’s a major project, but well worth doing because it will put you in an excellent position for competing and winning in a difficult economy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Can we have a global configuration plan or does each project need one?

I would like to ask you a question about Configuration Management from ML2. At the place I'm currently working at we have implemented a global CM plan applicable to all projects (in addition to that, we also have what we call a 'cover page', which is where we include all the roles with the corresponding team members). Should any of them present any difference with the original CM plan, we have a section destined to these particularities inside an application called Team Foundation Server (TFS).
Is it correct to be doing the afore-described, or should we be using a specific CM plan for each project?"
Well, that depends!
I personally can't stand that answer when I get it, but your post left me with no choice!
It all comes down to "what" is in the plan and the characteristics of your projects.  If your projects all use identical work products and code modules, and there is little or no variation, then yes, one plan could work.  Other factors influencing my response would be company size, project complexity, timing, and methodologies being used.
One approach to consider might be to split the CM Plan that your using into one global document that is "common" to all, and another piece for the "project specific" data.  It sounds like you're doing some of this using TFS, which is great, but I have to believe there is more uniqueness to each project than you've described.  If not, you're probably in decent shape.