Thursday, May 20, 2010

Are Practices really "expected?" They really mean "required" don't they?

There often seems to be heavy debate about the implementation of Specific Practices. I know the model says they’re Expected, but aren’t they really required? Kind of like when your boss says “I expect you to have this done Monday morning,” he really means “I require you to…”
I’m just not sure how else you could satisfy a Specific or Generic Goal without doing the Practices. I was also told by a very seasoned SEI employee (teacher and certified high maturity lead appraiser) that he had never seen an “Alternative Practice” used to complete an SP. For example, is there any way we would complete the Requirements Management PA if we didn’t do bi-directional traceability or have a change proposal process? Could we pass Configuration Management without keeping CM records or performing CM audits?
We’re young in our CMMI deployment so I’m trying to set the expectation now as to what we really need to be doing. Thank you very much for your help and clarification.
I expect you to follow my advice…. Unless you have a better idea!
Seriously, it’s a great question. I interpret the “practices are expected” statement a little differently than you though.
In the CMMI model Goals are “Required” – no exceptions! Well….wait, except SG2 in OPD and SG3 in IPM (IPPD) . . .and both Goals in SAM if…. don’t get me started J
The practices are what the authors of the model “expect” you to do to achieve the goal – but they wanted to leave the door open for things they didn’t consider. If you were to ask a seasoned SEI employee (and a HMLA at that) about what things they didn’t consider, they might answer “nothing” – but on the other hand, they’re not practitioners they’re researchers. But they did want to leave open the possibility of “alternative practices” to satisfy the goals – so that’s the reason for the language.
Now, getting a lead appraiser to pay attention long enough to be properly educated on your alternative to the practices under a goal may be harder than it sounds…. but that’s another rant.
Someone told you none exist? Hogwash. Examples? Sure, here are some. TS.SP1.1/SP1.2 and practices in SAM and DAR all address decision making for the purpose of selecting technology or suppliers right? But what if your customer MANDATES a supplier? Or what if your company buys a product line from another company and you are obligated to use the same platform and development tools? Are you going to “select alternative solutions or “select suppliers?” Probably not. Those are both “alternatives.”
You’d be amazed at the useless work some companies perform just to be “compliant” when it makes no business sense. Dumb.
Do yourself a favor. Stop worrying about compliance. Worry about how to become a great company . . . .then if there are any gaps (there won’t be many) fill them in using the lightest process you can. And then find a Lead Appraiser who gets it and is willing to work hard to understand your business enough to fairly appraise you.
So, back to my first sentence. I expect you to follow my advice, unless you have a better way to achieve your goal!

Monday, May 10, 2010

What Process Areas have to be Capability Level 4 for us to be Maturity Level 4?

Dear Appraiser,
I have a few questions to ask you about CMMI. These questions came up during my lectures and I would like to confirm them with you.
1) For Maturity Level 4, which PAs need to have Capability Level 4?
None. To achieve a maturity level all PAs in ML2/ML3/ML4 must be at least Capability Level 3 and the PAs in ML4 must be applied to a business-appropriate set of sub-processes. Using the staged representation GG4 does not exist - only GG2 and GG3.
2) For Maturity Level 5, which PAs need to have Capability Level 5?
uhh....again, none. Using the staged representation PAs must only have GG2 and GG3 applied to them (equivalent to Capability Level 2/3). But GG4/GG5 are not required as they are redundant to the PAs in ML4.
Please tell me you're not lecturing about CMMI.....

Can any Process Areas in CMMI-DEV be skipped?

For Maturity Level 2, 7 PAs must be appraised. What if the company does not need SAM, does it still need to implement the SAM or not? How about the other 6 PAs, can any of them be skipped?

I had a client once that told me that they "didn't plan" so Project Planning was "not applicable" for them. That's a true story!
Supplier Agreement Management (SAM) is the only process area that MAY be deemed "not applicable" if the company truly has no need for it - in other words they do not use both external or internal suppliers. NO OTHER PROCESS AREAS CAN BE "NOT APPLICABLE!"
And even SAM requires that you and your Lead Appraiser agree on its applicability.
Have at it!