Introduction: Capability Maturity Model Integration


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

Process Improvement

This article was originally published in News at SEI on: September 1, 1998

In 1987, the SEI released a software process maturity framework and maturity questionnaire to support organizations in improving their software processes. Four years later, the SEI released the Capability Maturity Model for Software (SW-CMM). Since its release, the SW-CMM has significantly influenced software process improvement worldwide.

However, not all problems in product development and maintenance are caused by lack of attention to the software engineering process. A broader, system-wide view of problems and approaches to process improvement is necessary. In recent years, the SEI became involved in helping to develop additional capability maturity models in other functional disciplines, including systems engineering [The Electronic Industries Alliance’s Interim Standard 731, Systems Engineering Capability Model, (SECM)] and integrated product development (IPD-CMM), to establish a common frame of reference for accelerating broader organizational learning.

The need for CMM integration

The SW-CMM is a "roadmap" that describes "evolutionary stages" consisting of key practices that guide organizations in improving their software capability. The SECM, in contrast, shares many of the same principles, but was written to address the needs of a different community: the systems engineering community. This had two consequences. First, the SW-CMM and SECM overlap; for example, both deal with requirements, project management, process definition, etc. The two models provide somewhat different guidance in places where they overlap, but the reason for the difference isn't always clear. Second, the SECM is based on a different representation, one that describes the entire "process area terrain" with less emphasis on exactly how an organization might mature through that terrain. Process areas span levels rather than being defined within a maturity level as in the SW-CMM. This is referred to as a "continuous" representation. The SW-CMM is said to have a "staged" representation.

Ideally, CMMs should work together harmoniously for the benefit of organizations wishing to apply more than one CMM to improve product quality and productivity. However, the overlap in content and difference in architecture and guidance have made it difficult to apply both models in integrated process improvement. To meet this need, industry, government, and the SEI are now involved in the development of a framework to harmonize and efficiently incorporate the practices of different capability maturity models. Through the CMM integration (CMMI) effort, capability maturity modelers in other engineering communities will be able to develop models that are compatible with those already established.

In a recent article in CROSSTALK, Mark E. Schaeffer, Deputy Director for Systems Engineering in the Office of the Secretary of Defense/Acquisition and Technology (OSD/A&T), explains the rationale for CMMI:

It became apparent in the development of these…models that they all contained common processes, e.g., configuration management, quality, and requirements management, supporting the various functional disciplines, software engineering, and systems engineering. Improvements in these common processes could benefit other disciplines. Further, it became apparent that process improvement resources applied to one functional discipline, e.g., software engineering, could be beneficial to another functional discipline. The common elements used in a software CMM appraisal could be used for a systems engineering appraisal, and there would be no need to redo the appraisal of common elements. In addition, improvement efforts based on unique CMMs could result in suboptimization, confusion, and potentially unnecessary expenditure of process improvement resources.

The CMM integration effort

The CMMI Project is a collaborative effort sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense/Acquisition and Technology (OSD/A&T), Systems Engineering, with participation by government, industry, and the SEI. The project's objective is to develop a product suite that provides industry and government with a set of integrated models and related improvement products to support process and product improvement.

The initial outputs from this project will include

  • a framework for generating CMMI products
  • capability models (CMs) supporting both the staged and continuous representations:

    - 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 of integrated   product and process development (IPPD)[1]

  • training products
  • assessment materials
  • glossary
  • tailoring guidelines

    The work accomplished to date in SW-CMM Version 2.0, SECM Version 1.0, and the IPD-CMM Version 0.98 (draft) have been included in the initial CMMI baseline.

    In this section

    For an introduction to the topic of CMM integration, see our Background feature, Capability Maturity Model Process Improvement by Mark E. Schaeffer, Deputy Director for Systems Engineering in the Office of the Secretary of Defense/Acquisition and Technology (OSD/A&T). This article was originally published in CROSSTALK, May 1998.

    For more detailed information about the framework itself, see the Feature article in this section of SEI Interactive, CMM Integration Framework by Roger Bate and Sandy Shrum. This article provides a technical description of what we are currently doing to accomplish the goals of the CMMI Project.

    In our Roundtable feature, four members of the CMMI Steering Group—Steering Group Chair Phil Babel, Joan Weszka of Lockheed Martin, Hal Wilson of Litton PRC, and Mike Zsak of OSD—engage in a wide-ranging discussion about the CMM integration work. This article presents the goals and rationale for the CMMI Project and describes how CMM integration will benefit organizations that use CMs.

    Our Links feature offers a guide to online information and resources about CMM integration, including links to the CMMI area on the SEI Web site, your most current source of information about the ongoing CMMI Project.

    [1] 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 (IPD).

  • 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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