Transitioning to CMMI

NEWS AT SEI

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

CMMI
Process Improvement

This article was originally published in News at SEI on: September 1, 2001

When a new software product, process, or technology is introduced into an organization, significant non-technical changes need to occur. Most technical managers, software engineers, and information technology specialists can address the technological problems but need guidance for the change process.

Through workshops and other collaborative efforts with early adopters, the SEI is developing a transition strategy and supporting materials to help organizations successfully implement Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI).

Background

The CMM Integration project was formed to address the problems some organizations were having with using multiple Capability Maturity Models. The purpose of CMMI is to provide guidance for improving an organization’s processes and its ability to manage the development, acquisition, and maintenance of products and services. CMM Integration places proven practices into a structure that helps an organization assess its organizational maturity and process area capability, establish priorities for improvement, and guide the implementation of these improvements.

In addition to the CMMI models released in August and December 2000, the CMMI product suite includes

  • assessment products, such as Appraisal Requirements for CMMI (ARC) V1.0, and Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPI) method description
  • courses, including introductory courses, intermediate courses, and SCAMPI lead appraiser training

With these products in place, many organizations have begun using CMMI as a basis for their process improvement efforts. In collaboration with these organizations, the SEI is now working to develop a transition strategy to help other organizations adopt CMMI.

“We are approaching this from several angles,” says Mike Phillips, CMMI program manager. “We’re developing strategies for organizations based on proven approaches, but we’re also providing support in the form of workshops, technical reports, and other support materials.”

Workshops

The SEI’s Technology Transition Workshop Series invites members of the software engineering community to share lessons learned about, and receive recognition for, successful software technology transition.

The first workshop in the series, “The Road to CMMI: What Works, What’s Needed?” was held on May 30, 31, and June 1, 2001 in Pittsburgh. Participants explored successful practices for accelerating an organization’s transition to the CMMI product suite.

During the workshop, participants discussed their experiences implementing CMMI at their organizations. The group identified and evaluated more than 60 best practices for adopting the product suite, 40 mechanisms that they felt were needed, and 30 traps and timewasters. These findings are expected to enable future adopters to make more effective technology transitions, as well as target some problem areas for the larger CMMI community to address. The results of the workshop will be published as an SEI technical report.

A Guide For Executives

In addition to the technical report, the results of the workshop are being used to develop a first draft of Transitioning to CMMI: A Guide for Executives.

The guide for executives does not recommend a particular transition approach but rather helps an executive build a case for why his or her organization should use CMMI. The guide for executives rests on the assumption that the most critical element of any implementation is the leadership element. Organizational change must be designed, implemented, and led from the top for the following reasons:

  • Competing alternative solutions result in fragmented efforts rather than integrated answers.
  • Resources must be committed for the process improvement effort. · A leader is needed to establish a mentoring environment for process improvement, and reward process improvement efforts.
  • The leader’s behavior is watched and emulated.
  • A leader is required to establish and maintain the vision. Because of the importance of a leader, this guide is an important element in a transition strategy and contains the key information an executive will need to help his or her organization start down the path of CMMI-based improvement.

Other Transition Mechanisms As part of a more a tailored transition strategy, future documents will help guide organizations through specific scenarios as they look to move from their current process improvement efforts to a CMMI-based approach. For example, organizations may be

  • using the SW-CMM as a basis for a process improvement initiative
  • using the Systems Engineering Capability Model (SE-CM) as a basis for a process improvement initiative
  • unfamiliar with model-related process improvement

A tailored transition strategy will make allowances for these and other factors such as the role of their external stakeholders, the process improvement areas they want to focus on, and whether the organization is a DoD contractor, government agency, or commercial organization. As it has throughout the CMMI development process, collaboration will play an important role here: Phillips says, “What we’d like to see is that organizations will say, ‘I’ve got something that fits in here,’ and start looking for ways of coupling what people are already doing with what the SEI has done. Because while we think we’ve got some pretty good insights into what aids transition, real products and strategies that have been put in place by an organization inherently have some advantages.”

Efforts are also are underway to update existing SEI technical reports. For example, technical reports on forming a software engineering process group (SEPG); on measurement and team formation; and on the IDEAL model are all valuable resources that can easily be adapted to CMMI.

Another resource for those interested in learning more about CMMI and how it has been used by organizations working on integrated process improvement is the book, CMMI Distilled: A Practical Introduction to Integrated Process Improvement, part of the Addison-Wesley SEI series in software engineering.

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.

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