Monday, September 13, 2010

How Do We Select a High Maturity Consultant?

My friend is a Quality Manager in a company who has reached CMMI Maturity Level 3. They now want to achieve Maturity Level 5. They started taking quotes from different companies. In the selection process they found that there are 3 or 4 major players in our country who have up to 3 High Maturity Lead Appraisers. Most of these companies have submitted proposals for consulting and appraisal in a single quote. Now my friend fears that:
  1. Most of them already have at least 40 High Maturity clients and at least 30 Maturity Level 3 clients. Will they have the capacity do lead the appraisal on time for my friend's company ( considering 12 SCAMPI appraisals per year per LA) ?
  2. Most of them deliver the consulting and training activities , which is 70 % of the contract value and sometimes they break the contracts and not deliver the SCAMPI, which is still highly profitable, since only 30 % value is lost, and no need to deal with High Maturity appraisal needs.

In order to address this issue, does the SEI publish a list of contracts for SEI Partner? Does the SEI have a specific committee or group to look in to the capacity management and availability management of their SEI partners, so that companies will not have such concerns?

All that the SEI does is maintain a list of SEI Partners and certified High Maturity Lead Appraisers. If there is indeed a problem as you have stated, then you or your friend should contact the SEI about the SEI Partner in question as this certainly sounds like unethical behavior.

Another issue is that an SEI-certified High Maturity Lead Appraiser cannot appraise the organization if he or she has provided the consulting to the organization, unless the SEI approves the potential Conflict of Interest.

The steps taken by SEI in this area are impressive. Also I understand that the control on appraisals/per year is established by SEI. Out of curiosity i would like to ask follow up questions.

I belive the critical part of this entire process is that consulting and apprisal services cannot be performed by the same Lead appriser. If there is a need of separate contract for SCAMPI A appraisal activities, and it cannot be included in a consulting contract, then it can have more credibility. Also like ISO where the certification agencies are audited annually (correct me if am wrong), will SEI do an onsite audit on SEI partners? Or do they have a databse of all the contracts established by SEI partners around the world (considering 800 to 1000 appraisals per year)? Because the user community trusts the SEI more than the SEI Partners ( for most of the users it may be the first time to contract with an SEI Partner and they might not be sure of the guidelines provided by the SEI or about the SEI Ethics commitee). All this can be prevented if the SEI takes a copy of all contracts established for SCAMPI A across the countries. What are your views on it? .

Note:The intent of the question is to increase the user communities' trust on SEI to increase, but not to reduce the credibility of SEI partners/Lead Appraisers.

The SEI does not have the time or resources to perform annual on-site audits of the SEI Partners. And as an SEI Partner, I would not welcome an on-site audit by the SEI. It would be additional expense for me.

What the SEI does provide that may help with your concerns is that they perform a QA audit of the results of every appraisal submitted by a Lead Appraiser. If the appraisal results do not meet the evaluation criteria, then a more in-depth audit occurs. What can then happen is that if the problems are serious enough, the Lead Appraiser can lose his or her CMMI credentials. This has happened to a number of Lead Appraisers since this policy was put in place.

In addition, each Lead Appraiser must be certified by the SEI, which provides another layer of credibility.

The SEI Partners provide the service and the certified-Lead Appraisers deliver the service. As a buyer of CMMI services, it is your responsibility to learn about the SEI policies regarding Ethics and Conflict of Interest, as well as the credibility of the different SEI Partners and Lead Appraisers. Otherwise, you get what you pay for. In other words, buyer beware!

And depending upon what country you are in, the SEI Partners are trusted as much or more than the SEI by the user community.

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