NEWS AT SEI
This article was originally published in News at SEI on: September 1, 1998
This article provides a high-level technical description of the
CMMI framework, which is currently being developed to accomplish the goals of
the CMMI Project. Keep in mind that the CMMI Project is not complete and, thus,
the framework and other aspects of the CMMI product suite may change before
they are released.
The CMM Integration (CMMI) Project has been underway since
February 1998. Representatives from government, industry, and the SEI are
combining several existing process improvement models under a single
architectural framework. This framework will sort, combine, and arrange process
improvement elements to form outputs that serve the individual needs of
organizations. These elements include the core building blocks for process
management and integration as well as elements specific to certain functional
disciplines (such as software engineering or systems engineering).
The CMMI framework is one part of what is called the
"CMMI product suite." In addition to the CMMI framework, the product
suite consists of capability models, training products, assessment materials, a
glossary, and tailoring guidelines. These informational elements are what
populate the framework in a raw form and compose the outputs of the framework
in their finished form.
The purpose of the CMMI product suite is to serve the users
of capability models (CMs) and Capability Maturity Modelssm (CMMs) better than the
independently created CMs and CMMs now available. The framework's integrated
approach will simplify
the process of understanding and using multiple models and provide integrated
and tailorable process improvement tools for the development user community.
The process improvement models resulting from the framework
will be called “CMs,” not CMMs. Other similar changes in terminology will be
necessary to combine existing models and supporting materials into an
integrated CMMI framework and product suite.
The CMMI framework development process
As Figure 1 illustrates, framework developers from
government, industry, and the SEI are engaged in a project to combine the
wealth of information about software engineering (SW), systems engineering
(SE), integrated product and process development (IPPD), assessment
techniques, and training techniques to develop a CMMI product suite. This suite
will be capable of producing CMs tailored to the needs of user organizations.
Figure 1: CMMI framework development process
Notice that the outputs at the bottom right of Figure 1
show various combinations of software engineering, systems engineering, and IPPD.
Over time, more elements will be added to the mix and thus will add to the
available outputs of the framework. These outputs will include CMs covering
additional disciplines (e.g., security systems engineering, hardware
engineering) and various combinations of these disciplines. These CMs, because
they are developed within the CMMI framework, will share common terminology,
components, and assessment methods.
Before the development team created the framework, they
identified the goals that the framework must meet. Overall, the CMMI product
suite must be an improvement over the use of independently developed CMs and
The goals of the CMMI Project are to eliminate
inconsistencies, reduce duplication, and lessen the cost of implementing
model-based process improvement. Further goals are to ensure that the products
of the framework are easy to understand and use because they use common
terminology, have a consistent style, follow uniform construction rules, and
share common components among products. Finally, the team is trying to minimize
the impact on those who are using existing models, assessment materials, and
Therefore, developers are striving to maximize commonality,
maintain the look and feel of existing materials, provide assets for future
models, design a logical organization for assets, and establish and follow
The vision of the CMMI product suite is that a framework
user can generate capability models and their supporting training and
assessment materials as needed from the framework's common elements and
discipline-specific elements. In other words, if an organization wanted to
improve its software engineering, systems engineering, and integrated product
and process development, it could combine these three disciplines into one
capability model supported by one set of training materials and assessment
By eliminating unnecessary duplication of common activities,
the job of training people to use the models will be simpler. The common
terminology used in the models, training materials, and assessment methods will
simplify the introduction of process improvement activities based on these
models, thereby reducing the costs of adoption.
The structure of the framework
The CMMI framework is designed to provide an internally
consistent set of common elements that apply to any discipline and that must be
included in any CMMI product. These CMMI products will support process
improvement activities, including assessments and training. The CMMI framework
currently consists of four parts: the input process, repository, control
process, and output process. Figure 2 illustrates the structure of the
Figure 2: CMMI framework
The repository contains the components of capability models,
training materials, and assessment materials, as well as construction rules and
the conceptual architecture of the outputs. The control process combines the
inputs and the rules for generating capability models, assessment materials,
and training materials to produce output that can be applied to an organization's
process improvement efforts.
How the framework functions
Imagine that the framework is a capability model generator. As
a user of the CMMI framework, you would specify various options based on the
needs of your organization, such as disciplines that need to be covered, staged
vs. continuous, and inclusion of the IPPD environment. The framework would then
generate the capability model that best meets your needs. Figure 3 represents
the information that resides in the framework and how it is processed to
produce tailored capability models.
Figure 3: How the framework processes information
The entire middle row of boxes represents the essence of the
process improvement information that is eventually used by the user
organization. This information includes the process management core, the
integration core, and any number of disciplines.
The process management core contains process
management components that apply to all disciplines and all domains. These
components are automatically included in your capability model.
The integration core contains information about IPPD,
which can be applied in virtually any discipline or domain.
The disciplines represent specific information that
you can select to include in your capability model. The initial CMMI product
suite will include only two disciplines: software engineering and systems
engineering. However, the framework is being designed so that it can
accommodate new disciplines over time.
Essentially, the framework sorts, combines, and arranges
information to make it useful for you and to tailor the information to your
Staged versus continuous representations
In every process improvement model, regardless of
representation, the basic building blocks are process areas. How these process
areas are presented in the model can be considered its “representation.” The
two dominant representations used in existing process improvement models are staged
Naturally, framework developers had to decide whether to use
staged or continuous representations in the framework's capability models. Each
representation has its proponents and detractors in the development community.
In a staged representation, process areas are grouped
into stages (or maturity levels). Each process area contains practices that,
when performed, achieve the purpose of the process area. Within a stage, the
institutionalization practices for all constituent process areas must be
achieved to successfully achieve the entire stage. Once an organization has
achieved the entire stage, it has
reached a capability maturity level. The Software Engineering Institute's CMM
for Software (SW-CMM) is an example of a staged model.
In a continuous representation, process areas also
contain practices that, when performed, achieve the purpose of the process
area. Generic practices are grouped into capability levels. These practices are
added to the practices of each process area to attain a capability level for
each process area. Capability levels are achieved process area by process area.
Although the order in which process areas are addressed is not required to
follow a particular sequence, the order may follow recommended staging. The
Electronic Industries Alliance's Interim Standard 731, Systems Engineering
Capability Model (SECM), is an example of a continuous model.
End users of the framework may prefer a CM that has a staged
or a continuous representation. Likewise, there are two models that initially
compose the input to the framework: one is a staged model (SW-CMM) and one is a
continuous model (SECM). Given these existing models, the best way to serve the
end user was to provide each model in both staged and continuous
Products resulting from the CMMI framework
The products that result from the CMMI framework include
capability models, training materials, and assessment materials.
Each capability model consists of process areas, specific
practices, generic practices, capability levels, stages, maturity levels,
discipline-specific amplifications, and descriptive
material. Initially, the CMs that will be available from the CMMI framework are
- · a
Software Engineering CM
- · a
Systems Engineering CM
- · an
Integrated Software and Systems Engineering CM
- · an
Integrated Software and Systems Engineering CM that incorporates the principles
These CMs will support both the staged and continuous
The training package you will receive from the framework
will be tailored to the CM that you have chosen. Each training package will
contain training for the CM (including both staged and continuous approaches),
training for the assessment team, and training for lead assessors.
The assessment package you will receive from the framework
will also be tailored to the CM you have chosen. Each assessment package will
contain materials for assessment planning (including requirements and
methodology), data collection methods and tools for both staged and continuous
approaches (e.g., questionnaires, interviews), analysis methods, and team
The framework also will provide materials that support
development of CMs in other functional disciplines. These materials include a
glossary, CM development standards and guidelines, document templates,
assessment methodology, and training materials on the use of the framework.
Likewise, the core components (process management core and integration core)
are available to be incorporated into the new CMs.
How will the CMMI framework be used?
The CMMI framework is designed to be used both by those who
use CMs for process improvement in their organizations and by those who develop
CM end users are interested in using the tailored
capability models, training materials, and assessment materials for process
improvement in their organizations. The framework's tailored CMs and supporting
materials are used by end users to write policies, conduct process improvement
programs, create process documentation, and persuade their organizations to
adopt process improvement.
CM developers are interested in developing and
maintaining CM products, validating their models, supporting
state-of-the-practice reports, or entering new discipline-specific information
into the framework. The CMMI framework will be an effective tool for
constructing CMs that use common terminology, common elements, and standard
The CMMI framework will provide the ultimate user of these
products with several benefits: simple and consistent CMs, common terminology
across multiple disciplines, and the ability to spread this useful improvement
technology across all of their disciplines. What's more, the framework will
ease the complex task of building new CMs and the associated training and
For more information
To learn more about what is happening with the CMMI project
and development of the CMMI framework, visit the CMMI Web site.
About the authors
Dr. Roger Bate was the
chief architect of the Enterprise Process Improvement Collaboration (EPIC),
which developed the Systems Engineering Capability Maturity Model (SE-CMM) and
the Integrated Product Development Capability Maturity Model (IPD-CMM). Bate
was a Texas Instruments (TI) fellow and the chief computer scientist for TI,
where he headed a corporate-wide project to improve the software development
process. Bate is also a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
and a fellow of the Society for Design and Process Science.
Sandy Shrum has been a
senior writer/editor at the SEI since September 1995. Before working at the
SEI, she was a senior information developer at Legent Corporation where she
supported business-critical networking systems and maintained technical and
user documentation. She has a BS in business administration and marketing from
Gannon University and an MA in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon University.
 Integrated product and process development (IPPD) is a management
technique that integrates all development activities ranging from product
concept to product support. The IPPD approach uses multifunctional teams,
called integrated product teams (IPTs), to improve the product and its
development and sustainment processes. The goal of this improvement is to meet
the organization's cost and performance objectives. IPPD evolved from
concurrent engineering and is sometimes called integrated product development