Tuesday, December 1, 2009

CMMI Practices for Documentation Teams

Our organization is CMMI Maturity Level 3 Ver 1.2 certified. Our delivery teams are going to implement CMMI practices soon. I did see the processes of the organization and though all the roles appeared from project leader to developer to manager, except for documentation teams. In the same context, I am very curious to see if there are any set of practices to be followed for the documentation department in CMMI as all the processes at CMMI ML2, ML3 are specific to project management, engineering, support, organization areas.

Your question actually raises some other questions:

  1. What are the roles and responsibilities of your documentation teams and documentation department?
  2. If this group of people is responsible for the technical documentation (e.g. requirements, design, etc.) and the user documentation, how and why were they excluded from your ML 3 SCAMPI A?
  3. How are the delivery teams different from the organization that achieved Maturity Level 3?

What is puzzling with your question is that REQM, RD, TS, PI, and CM cover the different aspects of writing and controlling the various documents associated with designing, developing, maintaining, operating, using, and deploying products. And then VER covers the inspection/review of the documents before placing them in the baseline and controlling them with CM.

It does appear from your description that your organization omitted the documentation people as a process role from your process documentation. In my opinion, at a minimum, your PPQA audits should have identified this omission long before your SCAMPI A appraisal. Then your Lead Appraiser should have identified this gap during the appraisal planning process before the SCAMPI A and should have taken steps to address the gap or postponed your appraisal until the documentation group was included in the scope. Since your documentation group was apparently not included in the scope of your appraisal, this oversight also calls into question your Lead Appraiser’s credentials and quite possibly the validity of your SCAMPI A results.

The bottom line, in my opinion, and based on only what you stated, your documentation group should have been included in the scope of your ML 3 SCAMPI A. Even if all they do is Document Configuration Control (which would be covered under CM) or Document Quality Assurance (which would be covered under PPQA).

The answers to my above questions could provide additional information that would change my opinion.


Priyank said...

If you mean documentation is team to handle requirement then they will fall in basket of RD/REQM else I expect they are assisting PM Resources in Project Plan and other Monitoring, then they fall to PP/PMC/MA, Last possibility is if they are Content writers then they fall to TS.

Henry Schneider said...

I agree. The people responsible for documentation are covered by many Process Areas in the CMMI.

VeryMerry said...

At last! I have scoured the internet for thoughts about how documentation teams are treated by CMMI and this is the first site to do so.

As a technical writer for a software development firm, it baffles me that CMMI devotes barely a paragraph in its monster manual to documentation. Not documenting our commitment to CMMI (in order to achieve our next level) but how documentation fits into our lifecycle. Literally every step from idea conception to products being on the shelf is planned, added to flowcharts, and thumbtacked to calendars. But EVERY release, Documentation gets the final product moments before we go live and have to blast out manuals, guides, CBTs lightning quick.

There has to be a better way, right?

So, why is it that every inch of every process is covered in such detail by the CMMI guys--as well as how all the processes fit together--but they don't care at all about how these thoughtfully crafted products are supported? Afterall, what if Microsoft XP went out without a user guide? Or tax software? Or even games? Shouldn't OUR process be integrated into the lifecycle?

I'd love your thoughts!

Henry Schneider said...

Thanks for commenting Meredith,
Yes indeed! The documentation processes should be integrated into ALL of your other processes and life cycle phases. After all, most work products are documents, right? At a minimum, PPQA should be objectively evaluating the documentation. And if there isn't enough time to properly follow the documentation processes, that should be evident in the PPQA audit results. If that is NOT happening, then PPQA is falling down on the job.
If your documentation processes are not being properly accounted for, that is not the fault of the CMMI, but the fault of your organization's implementation of the model. And as I wrote earlier, the Lead Appraiser should have run across this issue as well during the appraisal.
Keep in mind, the CMMI is a model for process improvement and if you feel that your documentation processes are lacking, etc., then it is incumbent upon you to raise these issues as well during the appraisal.
Hope this helps.