Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CMMi 1.2 Level 3 Query

We have planned to use CMMI 1.2 model for our Organization for process improvement and we are targetting to reach maturity Level 3. The constraint here is we have a very small team in development. E.g. there are only 3 members for database management, 1- 2 team members for front end development (the same is true for middleware development), and a few for production support projects. I am not sure how to manage peer reviews and many other aspects. In all there are around 20 members in the development team. Please let me know the challenges we may face during our journey to maturity Level 3, based on your experience.

Also I am driving the CMMi initiative. Is there any mandate that I should be an SEI-Certified Assessor? I have the required experience in Quality Management System for driving the CMMi initiative, but unfortunately I have not taken any formal Certification on CMMI. Please let me know your thoughts on this point as well.

There are many challenges with process improvement and implementing the CMMI regardless of your size. However, for small organizations, the challenges can be even greater. The biggest challenge is probably budget. Small organizations usually do not have a lot of extra funds for activities not directly associated with producing a product or service. Therefore, you are faced with adding the responsibilities of mapping, defining, and documenting your processes and procedures to your normal 40+ hour/week job. Industry averages over the past two decades show that Process Improvement is roughly 3 – 5% of the organization size. Configuration Management takes another 3 – 5%, as well as PPQA. Worst case the total could be 15% of the organization. So for a development team of about 20 people, you would need 1 person full time on Process Improvement, 1 person full time for CM, and 1 person full time for PPQA. Senior Management is usually reluctant to set aside this much budget when you begin your journey. There is no visible business case for the additional people and what happens is that people have to wear multiple hats to cover these new positions until the burden gets so big that either you stop these activities or management agrees to the additional funding.

Beyond this much it is difficult to provide more information without a better understanding of your organization, management commitment, line of business, etc. There are many ways available to you to scale the CMMI to your organization. You just have to be very careful not to implement something because you think the CMMI requires it, but there is no business value to you. That is the situation that gives process improvement a bad name. Everything that you do with the CMMI must be value-added. About the only way that I know of to avoid mistakes and/or potential obstacles is to work with an experienced CMMI consultant and Lead Appraiser. Over the years we have seen what works and what doesn’t work and there is no need for you to reinvent the “process improvement” wheel one more time.

A third point is that your description implies that you are going directly to Maturity Level 3 without first establishing the foundation of Maturity Level 2. That approach can be a costly one and could jeopardize your program, unless you have a history of process improvement in the organization. The SEI and all Lead Appraisers that I know always recommend that you implement one Maturity Level at a time. The CMMI Staged Representation is a foundational model. You must first establish a firm foundation for process improvement, and that is what you achieve by attaining Maturity Level 2. Then Maturity Level 3 builds upon the foundation of ML 2. Then ML 4 builds upon ML 3. And ML 5 builds upon ML 4. Please keep in mind that I am not saying that you have to be appraised at each level with a SCAMPI A Appraisal. But you need some indication that you have implemented a Maturity Level. The big mistake many organizations make is skipping over ML 2 and going directly to ML 3. There are some fundamental differences in how Project Managers behave at ML 2 vs. ML 3. By skipping ML 2, you run the risk of having ML 3 processes documented but practiced as a ML 2 organization. Therefore, when you are appraised, the results have a high probability of being ML 2, which would NOT be a happy day.

There are no SEI requirements that the person in the organization responsible for implementing the CMMI be an SEI-authorized Lead Appraiser. There really is no benefit to you or your organization for you to become a Lead Appraiser, unless you have lots of internal opportunities to lead appraisals, or your company is in the business of providing CMMI services to other clients. Becoming a Lead Appraiser is an expensive proposition. You have to take at least three classes, which can be a total of $15,000. Before you can be accepted in the classes, you have to be an appraisal team member on at least two appraisals. You have to pass several exams and be observed leading an appraisal. Then you have to lead at least two appraisals over a three year period. In addition, a Lead Appraiser cannot lead an appraisal of his or her own organization.

My best advice to you is to hire a CMMI expert to help you on your journey.

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