Friday, July 31, 2009

Application of the CMMI for Services

I am in the process of preparing a "justification" presentation that talks about why the CMMI is important and how it can be applied. Though I have enough material and data to substantiate this, I don't have data that is contextual. I am looking for data, links, or any input that would point me to where the CMMI was applied to a Staff Augmentation organization or a comparison where I can see how each CMMI constellation (DEV, ACQ, and SVC) can be applied (Development Orgs, Support and Maintenance Org, Outsourcing Org, Staff Augmentation Org).

Though I could be wrong here, but I seriously doubt that the kind of information you seek exists at this point in time. Keep in mind that the CMMI for Services (CMMI-SVC) was only released in late February 2009 and the first appraisals to this constellation cannot occur at least for another 2 or 3 months. So there won’t be any anecdotal evidence or case studies available to provide the information you seek. I would imagine that the first opportunity to see any information of the type will be at the 2010 North American SEPG Conference. And since you are asking about applying the CMMI to a Staff Augmentation organization, the applicable CMMI constellation would the CMMI-SVC. There just isn’t a lot of information about its benefits right now, not enough time has elapsed since its release.

Is There a Difference Between Software and Firmware Development wrt the CMMI?

Would you kindly let me know the difference between the development of software and firmware and what CMMI practices are useful for firmware development? Is there a need to have Configuration plan for firmware development projects to control the code version?

Though the location of where the software or firmware resides is different as well as the code, there is no difference in the development practices and activities that occur. The CMMI for Development (CMMI-DEV) applies equally well to any type of product development. All projects have requirements, the work needs to be planned and managed, the work products and deliverables need to be managed, designs have to be developed, etc. The specifics in the processes most likely will vary from hardware development to software development to firmware development, but all of the Process Areas (Engineering, Support, Project Management, and Process Management) apply.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Product Planning and Configuration

It is common knowledge that Maturity Level 2 is project specific, and still I find at times Lead Appraisers asking funny questions during SCAMPI A appraisals. Quite recently, one of my friends told me that his Lead Appraiser is looking for planning at the product level, as well as Configuratuion Management at the product level. I was a bit amazed, thinking that Maturity Level 2 focuses on Project Planning, not product planning. What do you think about this situation? Have you been faced with this situation before? Is there a workaround for it?

From what you describe, it sounds like this Lead Appraiser could be misinterpreting the CMMI and possibly misleading the organization. The CMMI is quite clear that the Project Planning (PP) Process Area (PA) is for project planning purposes, not product planning.

"The purpose of PP is to establish and maintain plans that define project activities."

However, sometimes the difference between project and product can be blurred. By not knowing the context of the situation you described, the Lead Appraiser may have been trying a different approach to draw project planning information out in the interview sessions.

In one respect, it really doesn’t matter the line of questioning in a SCAMPI interview session. The Lead Appraiser could really ask about any topic. However, once he or she starts deviating from the CMMI, they are on shaky ground and could lose credibility. What does matter however, is the set of findings produced by the Lead Appraiser and the Appraisal Team. If there are findings associated with product planning that cannot be tied to the satisfaction of a CMMI Specific Goal or a Specific Practice, then these would be non-model findings and should have no impact on the resulting appraisal rating. However, if these non-model findings do impact the appraisal rating and the Lead Appraiser and Appraisal Team fail to demonstrate the linkage to Goal and Practice satisfaction/implementation, then the Lead Appraiser has not correctly performed his or her Lead Appraiser duties and the SEI should be informed about this issue so it can be investigated.

Why SAM is excluded ?

Why is SAM removed from CMMI L3?

Supplier Agreement Management (SAM) is not excluded from the CMMI-DEV or CMMI-SVC. When you say L3, I assume you mean Maturity Level 3 and SAM is definitely NOT excluded from ML 3. If, however, the Lead Appraiser in working with the organization determines that SAM is not applicable to the work performed by the organization, SAM will be considered Not Applicable to the scope of the appraisal. And that could be at any Maturity Level. Please read previous my posts regarding SAM for more information. and

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Criteria For Selecting and Qualifying an Instructor

What are the important criteria that we should use to qualify and select internal and external instructors?

First of all you need to specify what kind of instructor you want to select and qualify, as well as the topic(s) you wish this person to teach. Then you would need to identify the core competencies for instructors in your organization. Coincidentally, I just created a job description for a Trainer position at my client based on some core competencies I found by searching the Internet. Here is a list of candidate competencies for your consideration:

Establishes and maintains instructor credibility

  • Demonstrates content expertise
  • States the learning objectives
  • Provides a model of professional and inter-personal behavior

Demonstrates effective communication skills

  • Uses appropriate verbal and non-verbal language
  • Uses frames of reference, language, and technical terms familiar to the students
  • Demonstrates that students have understood the message

Demonstrates effective presentation skills

  • Uses appropriate modulation of voice to keep students engaged and interested
  • Makes eye contact with individual students in the class
  • Uses appropriate gestures to communicate
  • Make effective use of moving around the room while facilitating discussions
  • Uses anecdotes, stories, analogies, real world examples, and humor effectively to illustrate key concepts
  • Uses relevant and short “war stories”
  • Encourages students to share their experiences

Demonstrates effective questioning skills

  • Asks students open ended questions
  • Appropriately directs questions to students
  • Uses active listening techniques to draw information from students
  • Paraphrases student questions to ensure that everyone understands

Responds appropriately to student’s need for clarification or feedback

  • Identifies students with clarification and feedback needs
  • Provides prompt, timely, and specific feedback focused on the performance, not the person
  • Welcomes questions from the students

Provides positive reinforcement and motivational incentives

  • Matches learning outcomes to student needs and goals
  • Determines if the student has mastered the material by the end of the class
  • Uses introductory activities to develop learning motivation
  • Makes the learning experience relevant and fun
  • Uses feedback and reinforcement during instruction

Uses instructional methods appropriately

  • Demonstrates proficiency with a variety of teaching methods
  • Limits the amount of lecture time
  • Uses demonstrations
  • Uses group and individual exercises
  • Facilitates group discussions
  • Uses instructional techniques that fit the situation
  • Encourages group dynamics associated with the media selected
  • Uses slides or other media as an outline for class discussion rather than lecture

Uses media effectively

  • Demonstrates proficiency with the training equipment (projector, laptop, hardware, etc.)
  • Troubleshoots problems associated with training equipment
  • Makes effective use of flip charts, presentation slides, hardware, etc.
  • Faces the audience when presenting and avoids reading the slides

Demonstrates understanding of the principles of adult learning

  • Makes the training topics relevant to the student’s needs
  • Makes the students partners in the learning experience

Need Some Clarification About Process Improvement

What types of activities should be considered process improvement? If we modify the templates (any major changes), do we categorize these changes as process improvement?

Merely modifying a template may or may not constitute process improvement. Your template may have changed because of external reasons (your customer wants you to use a different template) that have nothing to do with process improvement. You should explain the rationale for modification, then you would have a stronger case to demonstrate process improvement.

Process improvement suggestions can come from any number of sources:
  1. Appraisal findings
  2. PPQA audit findings
  3. Lessons learned
  4. Employee suggestions

If you couple the source of the process improvement suggestion with the actual change, usually spelled out in the Process Improvement Plan, then you have the information you need.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Process Improvement Measures

Do you have any suggestions for a size and quality measure for a Process Improvement organization?

There are other questions that need to be answered first in order to provide a proper response to your question. What does your Process Improvement process say? Examine your process to see what type of activities you have documented, where are the spots in the process you can collect data, and what data you can collect. You also have to consider your business goals and objectives for your Process Improvement organization. Then you will have some idea of the measures you can use for size and quality of your Process Improvement effort. Experts can offer you all different ideas, but if these ideas don’t support your goals and/or your process is written in such a way that it doesn’t support these measures, then you will have to consider something else.

Measurement and Analysis vs. Generic Practice 2.8

Would you expect that measures being reported for Generic Practice (GP) 2.8 on all Maturity Level (ML) 2 and ML 3 Process Areas (PAs) would follow the complete Measurement and Analysis (MA) PA? That is these GP 2.8 measures would have written objectives, operational definitions, storage, collection and analysis procedures in line with MA Specific Goal (SG) 1 and SG 2. Or can the PAs be monitored (measured) and controlled without the full breath of the MA PA?

This is a good question. So let’s take a step backwards and look at the CMMI and Generic Practice – PA Relationships. The summary table in the Generic Practice section of the model clearly states that Project Monitoring and Control (PMC) can implement GP 2.8 for all project-related processes. And MA provides general guidance about measuring, analyzing, and recording information that can be used in establishing measures for monitoring actual performance of the process. Please note that this information is GUIDANCE and part of the INFORMATIVE material. Therefore, it is not required that the org use MA for GP 2.8. HOWEVER, from a practical point of view, why would MA be part of the model if there wasn’t a requirement and expectation that it would be implemented? Since it is a ML 2 PA and you are asking about ML 3, as a Lead Appraiser I would expect to see that MA was used for defining, collecting, analyzing, and reporting both the project and process measures. Without implementing MA for the process measures, the org would be receiving little to no benefit from GP 2.8. And as I have seen GP 2.8 implemented, sometimes the process measures are embedded in the project measures that have been defined using MA.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Requirements Traceability Matrix Question

Is Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM) a configurable item (CI) or not? Do we need to maintain its version history?

This is a question you really have to answer for yourself by first addressing some more basic questions. How critical is the RTM to the success of your project, organization, and business? What do you use the RTM for? Tracing requirements? Verifying and validating requirements? Regression testing? What value to you, the project, and the organization is the change history of the RTM? If you identify strong business needs for the RTM, then the answer to original question will become obvious.

From my perspective, the RTM is not a CI per se as it is a tool for managing your requirements and not necessarily a product component. But it is a very important, if not essential tool, and maintaining its change history could be necessary for project and organizational success.

Appraisal Team Member Qualification Requirements

What are the requirements to be an Appraisal Team Member (ATM) in SCAMPI A appraisal?

I have heard many opinions on ATM qualifications, such as:

  1. Not part of process definition
  2. Not involved with Process Implementation
  3. Not being an SEPG member.

I am unaware of any criteria set by the SEI on this topic.

The ATM qualifications are spelled out in the SCAMPI Method Definition Document (MDD) Section 1.3.2 SELECT TEAM MEMBERS. I have extracted the pertinent text here.

Parameters and Limits
The minimum acceptable team size for a SCAMPI A appraisal is four people (including the appraisal team leader).
All team members must have previously completed the SEI-licensed Introduction to CMMI course.
With regard to engineering field experience, the team (as a group) must have an average of at least 6 years of experience, and the team total must be at least 25 years of experience in each of the disciplines to be covered in the appraisal.
With regard to management experience, the team (as a group) must have a total of at least 10 years of experience, and at least one team member must have at least 6 years of experience as a manager.
The team must, in aggregate, have representative experience in the lifecycles being appraised.

Optional Practices
Although not required in the Parameters and Limits section above, the following are considered recommended best practices and should be employed whenever feasible:

  • Each member should have good written and oral communication skills, the ability to facilitate the free flow of communication, and the ability to perform as team players and negotiate consensus.
  • At least half of the team members should have participated in a previous process appraisal.
  • Team members should be perceived by the appraisal sponsor as credible.

Additional appraisal team member selection considerations include

  • Consider the personal characteristics of individual team members (e.g., communication preferences and personality types) and how these characteristics may affect the dynamics of the team.
  • Use one or more authorized SCAMPI Lead Appraisers as team members.

And there is one more ATM requirement that is documented in the MDD errata. The Appraisal Sponsor cannot be an Appraisal Team Member.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Importance of the Sub-Practices

I am trying to explain to a organization that they need to look at the sub-practice areas and make sure that the artifacts for the SCAMPI A also answer the subpractice areas. I understand that the subpractice area are a detailed description that provides guidance.

Has the organization been trained on the SEI’s 3-day Intro to CMMI class? The CMMI instructor should have explained and emphasized the role of the informative material (e. g., sub-practices). And in the words of Rusty Young, this material is “informative” NOT “ignorative.” Another way to look at the informative material is if it has no value to the model, there is no point in including it. Then the model would only consist of goal and practice statements, which would only take about 10 pages to document. The sub-practices are provided to help the reader understand the intent of the practice and goal statements.

HOWEVER, in a SCAMPI A appraisal the appraisal team will only be evaluating the required (goals) and expected (practices) components of the model, NOT the informative material (sub-practices et. al.) So you would be mistaken if you required the organization to provide evidence (Direct and Indirect) for the sub-practices. The organization only provides evidence for the goals and practices in a SCAMPI A.

CMMI Novice Question

I would like to know if all the Maturity Level 2 Process Areas must be completed for a Maturity Level 2 appraisal? There are some process areas which are not applicable to our organization.

For the CMMI for Development (CMMI-DEV) there is only one Process Area (PA) that can be designated Not Applicable (N/A), SAM. Therefore, at a minimum, REQM, PP, PMC, MA, PPQA, and CM are required for a Maturity Level 2 (ML 2) appraisal. And if the organization has outsourced some work, then SAM is also applicable.

I find it hard to believe that you can state that one or more of these PAs are not applicable to your organization. Every project has requirements to manage from the janitor to the President. Everyone works on a project. You just have to define what a project is. And then you manage the project. Everyone can define specific measures that can be used to manage the project. Everyone has some sort of configuration items or documents that have to be managed. And everyone needs some sort of objective evaluation of the process and project compliance. For a small organization, you may have combined one or more of these PAs under one person. But that does not mean these PAs are not applicable.

Now if you said that you had problems with the engineering PAs (RD, TS, PI, VER, and VAL), then I would suggest that the CMMI-DEV may not be the appropriate model constellation for your use and you should look at the CMMI for Services (CMMI-SVC) or CMMI for Acquisition (CMMI-ACQ).

Friday, July 24, 2009

Reducing the Time it Takes to Review a Document

I have problem. Currently we are taking 12 minutes to summarize articles that are published in our newsletter. Can you suggest how can we reduce the processing time to 8 minutes?

Without having any insight at all into your process, I cannot provide you a solution. However, if you want to shorten the process time, here are the steps I would follow:
  1. First answer the question why you want to shorten the process time. Is this desire driven by your business goals and objectives and/or your process goals and objectives?
  2. If the answer is yes, then define and document your process.
  3. Define, collect, and analyze appropriate process measures that can be used to understand your process time.
  4. Analyze the process to determine which step or steps are the major drivers for the current process time of 12 minutes.
  5. Pilot different process step changes that could result in shortening your process time to 8 minutes and still meet your business goals and objectives and your process goals and objectives.
  6. Based on this analysis, change your process.

Cut Off Time for Updating Documents Prior to a SCAMPI

What is the normal time-frame an organization is allowed to continue making changes to their documentation prior to a SCAMPI?

There is no hard and fast rule for this practice. You need to work this time frame out with your Lead Appraiser to see what he or she is comfortable with. But, think about what you are asking for a minute. Are you talking about process changes? Changes to artifacts? Or both?

If you are talking about process changes, then you need to consider the purpose of the SCAMPI. One of the jobs of the appraisal team is to determine the amount of institutionalization. In order to determine the degree of institutionalization (GGs and GPs), changes to the processes and procedures need to be minimized so there is sufficient time for institutionalization and to collect and present the proper Direct and Indirect Evidence. To be on the safe side and mitigate this risk, organizations may decide to have no process changes for six months before the SCAMPI.

If you are talking about the artifacts, then you need to keep in mind the definition of Focus and Non-Focus Projects and work with your Lead Appraiser to determine your evidence needs. In my experience, my clients have taken the risk mitigation approach of “freezing” the evidence about a month before the Readiness Review to build the PIIDs and then only allow changes after that point if there are weaknesses in the PIIDs that need to be addressed before the SCAMPI.

Please keep in mind that I am not advocating freezing the processes 6 months before an appraisal, it just has been my experience that as a risk mitigation some clients have held off making changes until after their appraisal. This behavior is typical for a first time SCAMPI A in a risk averse organization who wants to do everything possible to have a successful SCAMPI A. After all the CMMI is a set of process improvement guidelines, so I as a Lead Appraiser would expect to see evidence of continuous process improvement. But the org has to take an intelligent approach when rolling out new changes. The workforce gets frustrated with chasing a moving target if the processes and assets are frequently changing, i.e. major updates.