Sunday, October 9, 2011

Is a Prediction Model Required for Maturity Level 4

Is it necessary to have a prediction model for L4 and L5?

I collect data from different projects and put them in a 3 sigma band and take care of outliers.  Then I compare the mean and standard deviation of current PBB with previous PBB.  And I also check against the LSL and USL set by the management team the trend coming out of this PBB.  In case the mean, SD, LCL and UCL decrease from the previous PBB, I update the management team and we check the projects on the basis of this.

What happens when I talk to someone in my circle of friends they talk about regression, simulation, Monte Carlo, etc.  In my organization we need to show process performance against set targets, so why make life so complex with so many above mentioned methods?

From what I can glean from your question is that you have developed a Process Performance Baseline (PPB).  But I have no idea why you have done this and what value you are getting from knowing this PPB.  What use is it to your organization?  How does it help you meet your Quality and Process Performance Objectives (QPPOs) and your business goals?

If you are not interested in fully implementing ML 4 or ML 5, then I suppose you don’t need anything else as long as you are deriving some sort of benefit from this PPB.  However, for a complete High Maturity implementation, you are expected to do the proper statistical analysis of data distributions, probability statistics, process engineering, etc. to derive appropriate PPBs and PPMs.  And to be a PPM instead of merely a forecast model and be of use for "what-if" analyses, the PPMs must contain controllable factors that have an impact on the outcome.

Also, if you want to implement ML 4 and/or ML 5, then you need to have established organizational QPPOs, a number of PPBs that support the QPPOs and can be used to evaluate the feasibility of achieving them, and a set of Process Performance Models (PPMs) that are derived from your historical data that are used in conjunction with the PPBs to predict each project’s ability to meet its QPPOs, as well as a number of other activities.

Therefore, if all that you have is one PPB and nothing else, you only have a partial implementation of OPP and still have a lot of work ahead of you before you can consider that you have implemented ML 4, let alone ML 5.

SCAMPI Document Review

I have two questions or requests for clarification:
  • During the document review in SCAMPI B, wherever we do not have a doc, ppt, or xls as an artifact, we provide screenshots from tools where the planning and tracking are done.  However, our Lead Appraiser (LA) is asking for access to tools for all the ATMs.  But it is not possible to give access to certain tools as they are client specific and only the team working on the project gets access (that too after signing an NDA).  How do we handle this situation?  Even if the tool is internal, access is very much restricted based on role in the project.  Can the LA really require access to tools for all ATMs, which is not allowed as per the policy of an organization?  Is there a guideline on what process to follow in case access to certain tools or application is restricted? 
  • Is there a material, which shows a linkage of all the PAs (representing interaction of PAs) and gives a holistic view of CMMI PAs when applied to an organization at Maturity L5. This is more from a training perspective. 
Have you explained these restrictions to your Lead Appraiser?  The Lead Appraiser should be flexible regarding access to restricted tools.  As a Lead Appraiser, I would find the screen shots as acceptable evidence in your situation.  And if I wanted or needed to view additional evidence, I would request that you provide a demonstration of the tool by an authorized user and have this person be directed by the ATMs or Lead Appraiser to view specific information.  I have used screen shots as evidence on numerous appraisals in the past.  The SCAMPI method allows for screen shots and tool demos for just such reasons as yours.  If your Lead Appraiser is unwilling to abide by your restrictions on tool access, then I would strongly urge you to find a new Lead Appraiser and possibly report him or her to the SEI.

Look in Chapter 4 of the CMMI-DEV book and you will find a series of diagrams that show the linkages between the PAs at a very high level.

Why Would I Need a CMMI Expert?

If my organization is already doing something and my results are in order, what is the value of me picking up something that I am doing and saying that this is what fulfils the requirement of configuration audits or for that matter any other practice.  Why do I need a specific (CMMI) legal expert to do the hair splitting and argue that what I do indeed meets CMMI requirements and three other who say it does not?  I would be keen to understand how my organization, or for that matter any other organization in the community, would be better off.

If you are able to identify that what you are doing satisfies the practice, then you are correct in that you don’t need a CMMI expert to tell you that your practice meets the CMMI.  However, in my experience, since people look at the CMMI as a requirements specification, they have difficulty determining that some of their practices are in fact CMMI compliant and therefore take steps to implement additional, and perhaps non-value added, redundant practices to “pass” the appraisal. Therefore it is important to have a CMMI consultant and/or Lead Appraiser perform  a gap analysis to determine if the organization has made the proper interpretations of the CMMI in their implementation.

On the surface the CMMI is a simple model, but the more you study it, you find additional layers of complexity that can lead to misunderstandings or extra non-value added practices.

I would maintain that if you were only using the CMMI for helping you identify areas for process improvement, were not interested in being appraised, and you had some internal process improvement specialists who are knowledgeable of the CMMI, ISO, etc., then you most likely would not need to use an external CMMI expert.  However, if your goal is to be appraised to the CMMI, then it is vitally important to work with a CMMI consultant and/or Lead Appraiser.

One last point, you refer to a CMMI legal expert.  That is a telling statement.  In my experience, even when I encounter CMMI Lawyers in an organization, they lose sight of the purpose of the CMMI and process improvement.  They are more interested in “what if” scenarios.  Such as What if I do this or write this document, will that be CMMI compliant?  The focus is more on explicitly covering all of the CMMI requirements rather than doing what is beneficial to the organization’s business practices.  And if you find yourself or others in your organization splitting hairs over whether a practice meets or doesn’t meet the CMMI, you have probably lost sight of what you are trying to do from a process improvement perspective.  You should be keeping things as simple as possible for your organization, and the hair splitting comes into play when your implementation may be too complex.

Hope this explanation helps.