CMMI – Continuously Improving!



Mike Phillips

This library item is related to the following area(s) of work:

Process Improvement

This article was originally published in News at SEI on: December 1, 2003

My last column focused on adoption progress, and mentioned what we could see coming. Recent activity and the importance of both of these areas has merited a further update in this issue.

How Is Adoption Growing?

We mentioned last quarter that course attendance for the Introduction  to CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) class had reached a total of 8,837 people. Thanks to the increasing capacity provided by our licensed transition partners offering the Introduction to CMMI course, over 10,000 people have attended this course as of the end of the year.

Another measure of interest is the number of times our CMMI Web pages on the SEI Web site are accessed. During the summer of 2003, the number of visits hovered at 800,000 to 900,000 per month. In September, we recorded over a million visits for information on CMMI, and the number continues to grow.

Similarly, the mix of appraisals conducted continues to shift from SW-CMM to CMMI. The percentage of appraisals using a CMMI model has grown from 13% in 2002 to about 19% as of early December 2003. We have also had a number of requests to approve the use of the Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPI) method with the SW-CMM. These requests have been granted on a case-by-case basis whenever we conclude that such an approach will assist the organization’s upgrade from SW-CMM to CMMI.

Another measure of adoption is the number and types of CMMI-related presentations at conferences. The CMMI Technology Conference and User Group that was held in Denver November 14-17 had a wealth of valuable presentations, which are available on the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Web site. They describe ways that organizations have increased the rate of their CMMI adoption and implementation. Of particular interest was the use of Six Sigma and ISO standards with CMMI. Those who used Six Sigma and CMMI found them to be very compatible. Others who used ISO standards with CMMI, including ISO 9000 as well as standards for safety and security, found the potential for a growing synergy.

At the SEPG Conference planned for March 2004 in Orlando, Florida, two tracks on each of the four days will be devoted to CMMI. Despite this increase in the number of slots devoted to CMMI-related presentations, so many CMMI-related presentations were submitted that only about one of every six CMMI-related submissions could be accepted. Even after giving substantial weight to the views of the conference’s review committee, which included many Software Process Improvement Network (SPIN) members, I found it difficult, as the final arbiter of the CMMI tracks, to select the best of so many excellent submissions. Unfortunately, many excellent and timely presentations will not be heard because they could not be accepted.

How Is the Transition Partner Program Working?

Two weeks before the CMMI Technology Conference and User Group in Denver, the SEI hosted a workshop in Washington, DC for all SCAMPI lead appraisers and Introduction to CMMI instructors. About 130 people, or about one third of the authorized appraisers and instructors, joined us there. The three-day workshop allowed various working groups to help us continuously improve the product suite and to evaluate the workshop as a way to increase the competencies of our transition partners in the future.

Of particular significance at this workshop was the work done on development of a code of conduct designed to guide all of the professionals in the process improvement field who are in some way authorized by the SEI. These professionals include those who work for the SEI and those who work for SEI-authorized transition partner organizations.  

What Is the 90-Day Review Period for Updating the Product Suite?

When we launched CMMI Version 1.1 in early 2001, we promised to maintain the stability of that version for at least three years. We are keeping our promise, to help organizations more easily plan their adoption of CMMI. We receive occasional change requests for all CMMI products and have regularly updated an errata sheet for each CMMI model and for the key appraisal documents (i.e., SCAMPI Method Definition Document and Appraisal Requirements for CMMI). These errata sheets correct the obvious errors found since the release of Version 1.1. However, some change requests have contained requests that CMMI model best practices be extended to include coverage of additional disciplines or a greater breadth of the product life cycle.

Some have requested that CMMI best practices be expanded to cover areas such as hardware engineering and safety and security assurance. Others have requested that CMMI best practices be expanded to cover more of the product life cycle to include manufacturing, operations, and disposal.

To begin considering when and which improvements should be made to the CMMI Product Suite, a 90-day comment period, open to current users of the product suite, was announced in September. The recommendations received from those using the model today will help guide the plans for corrections and improvements tomorrow. In addition to the input received during the 90-day comment period, we will also consider the change requests submitted since release of the V1.1, as well as comments received as part of workshops such as those conducted as part of the CMMI Interpretive Guidance project and the Transition Partner Workshop.

What Happens Next?

The SEI will analyze all of the change requests received, including those that were received before the Version 1.1 update that were deferred and those received before the 90-day review. A summary of this analysis will be submitted to the CMMI Steering Group. The Steering Group will then determine the guidelines for product suite change, as it did for Version 1.1, as well as a strategy to guide both Version 1.2 and future update mechanisms. Our overall timeline for change suggests that the remainder of Fiscal Year 2004 will be spent planning CMMI Product Suite improvements. Fiscal Year 2005 (i.e., October 2004 through September 2005) will be spent creating draft versions of CMMI products and piloting them. Version 1.2 CMMI products will be finalized for release in Fiscal Year 2006. This timing allows for full consideration of needed changes and maintains our commitment to stability.

What If I Submit a Change Request Now That the Review Period Is Over?

The 90-day review period was established to stimulate a focused review for product suite improvement in organizations using CMMI, and will help us prepare the improvement strategy for Version 1.2. Change requests are always welcome.

We have found that many changes to the training material can be made without affecting the rest of the product suite. There is not a specific deadline that would preclude consideration of change requests. In fact, we expect change requests as part of the piloting activities that will take place in Fiscal Year 2005. Of course, the later a change request is received, the less likely it is that it will affect Version 1.2 elements. So it is worthwhile to submit your change requests as soon as you can. For more information about submitting a change request, see “Submitting CMMI Change Requests and Comments.”

What Happens to Change Requests?

When we are ready to process change requests, we gather those that are similar into a change package. This package represents the team’s best fusion of the ideas affecting specific parts of the models, appraisal method, or training. The change package is submitted to the CMMI Configuration Control Board, which has the responsibility for determining whether the change is justified and sufficient to correct or improve the product suite. Not every change package is approved. Those changes that are approved will be the basis for the preparation of an improvement package in which actual changes to the elements of the product suite are made.

Should I delay investing in CMMI until Version 1.2 is released?

The drafting and piloting of proposed changes will take us well into 2005 at the earliest. We expect that the scope of change for Version 1.2 will be narrow. We are committed to ensuring that these changes will align with the existing product suite so that no repetition of training and deployment efforts such as those associated with V1.1 and V1.0 will be necessary. Thus, a decision to delay your investment in CMMI until late 2005 or 2006 may put your organization behind its peers and competitors and would delay any benefits gained from CMMI adoption. Further, such a delay would not provide any investment savings.

Are There Any New SEI Publications About CMMI Available?

Four new documents related to CMMI were recently published by the SEI, and one is in progress. Descriptions of each follow.

Interpreting Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) for Service Organizations—A Systems Engineering and Integration Services
We have made available a technical note from a service-focused organization that is part of a large defense systems integration company. The report provides an example of how CMMI best practices can be interpreted for organizations that primarily provide services.  

Demonstrating the Impact and Benefits of CMMI: An Update and Preliminary Results
One of the most popular reports from the SEI, produced in 1994, summarized some early SW-CMM adoption successes from a number of organizations that agreed to be part of the study. This report presents selected results from 12 case studies of CMMI-based process improvement drawn from 11 organizations. While still limited, the case studies provide credible evidence that CMMI-based process improvement can help organizations achieve better project performance and produce higher quality products. One section of the study reports on recent successes that began as SW-CMM efforts but are continuing as CMMI-based improvements.

CMMI Interpretive Guidance Project: Preliminary Report
The Interpretive Guidance project was formed to collect information about how CMMI is being used by software, information technology (IT), and information systems (IS) organizations. The project collected data using a variety of channels and sources within the software and IT/IS communities. This report provides some early insight into the adoption of CMMI by the organizations that chose to participate.    

Some highlights of this report include the following:

  • When asked “Has your organization made a decisionabout adopting CMMI?” 48% of the respondents stated that adoption was in progress, 15% stated that CMMI was well institutionalized throughout their organizations, 10% stated that their organizations chose not to adopt CMMI, and 23% said the decision to adopt had not yet been made.
  • When asked if, in their opinion, CMMI is adequate for guiding process improvement, over 77% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed.
  • When asked if including both systems engineering and software in a single model has been a help for them, nearly 65% agreed or strongly agreed.

Interpreting Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) for COTS-Based Systems
Although commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)-based systems are covered in CMMI models, the authors of this report show how CMMI can be interpreted to enable those developing COTS-based systems to follow CMMI best practices more easily. The report describes what makes COTS-based systems different from systems that do not use COTS products.

CMMI model best practices cover the selection of COTS products and managing vendor relationships in the supplier sourcing discipline. This report interprets the best practices in other areas of the models (i.e., systems engineering, software engineering, and integrated product and process development) that can be affected by the use of COTS products.

CMMI Module for Acquisition (in progress)
One of the disciplines considered for eventual inclusion in the CMMI Framework is acquisition. In December 2000, incorporating this discipline was explored by releasing draft process areas in CMMI Version 1.02d. This draft later evolved into the supplier sourcing (SS) addition to Version 1.1. Supplier sourcing practices are contained in a single process area, Integrated Supplier Management, and informative amplifications of various practices in other process areas. This addition of a discipline increased attention on analyzing and selecting suppliers and improving customer-supplier interactions. In spite of this step forward for outsourcing, we determined that further acquisition practices would be needed in the future to help the government’s acquisition organizations.

This report is designed to provide broader coverage of acquisition within the CMMI Framework and meet the needs of government acquirers. Significant news not included in my last column is that source material from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Integrated Capability Maturity Model (iCMM) is being included to move the community toward a single integrated model for both government and industry. We intend to publish this report in early 2004. This report will provide material that can be reviewed, piloted, and tested before it is considered for inclusion in the CMMI Framework. As I mentioned before, this approach allows us to maintain the stability of the Version 1.1 Product Suite while we expand the communities that can benefit from CMMI.

What About Coverage For Safety And Security? (Coming)

A team jointly sponsored by the DoD and the FAA has made significant progress in identifying the key practices that need to be emphasized to ensure effective development of safety-critical and security-critical systems. An approach for incorporating these practices into the CMMI Framework was presented at the CMMI Technology Conference and User Group by the co-sponsors from the FAA and DoD. The team will be gathering more data before preparing a technical note. If you would like to participate in reviewing the material, please contact us.

About the Author

Mike Phillips is the Director of Special Projects at the SEI, a position created to lead the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) project for the SEI. He was previously responsible for transition-enabling activities at the SEI.

Prior to his retirement as a colonel from the Air Force, he managed the $36B development program for the B-2 in the B-2 SPO and commanded the 4950th Test Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. In addition to his bachelor’s degree in astronautical engineering from the Air Force Academy, Phillips has masters degrees in nuclear engineering from Georgia Tech, in systems management from the University of Southern California, and in international affairs from Salve Regina College and the Naval War College.

Please note that current and future CMMI research, training, and information has been transitioned to the CMMI Institute, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Carnegie Mellon University.

Find Us Here

Find us on Youtube  Find us on LinkedIn  Find us on twitter  Find us on Facebook

Share This Page

Share on Facebook  Send to your Twitter page  Save to  Save to LinkedIn  Digg this  Stumble this page.  Add to Technorati favorites  Save this page on your Google Home Page 

For more information

Contact Us


Help us improve

Visitor feedback helps us continually improve our site.

Please tell us what you
think with this short
(< 5 minute) survey.