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3 CMMI ® Views. Rick Hefner Director, Process Assurance Northrop Grumman Corporation. Southern California SPIN 4 June 2010. Background. Many published results show improved cost and schedule performance from adopting CMMI ®

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3 cmmi views l.jpg

3 CMMI® Views

Rick Hefner

Director, Process Assurance

Northrop Grumman Corporation

Southern California SPIN

4 June 2010

Background l.jpg

  • Many published results show improved cost and schedule performance from adopting CMMI®

  • Despite these results, there is still community debate over the value of CMMI®, and whether CMMI® ratings provide sufficient guarantees of program performance.

  • This program will explore three factors contributing to the confusion:

    • Inaccurate CMMI® ratings

    • Over-estimating the benefits that CMMI® provides a customer

    • Contractors not living up to their CMMI® rating

Agenda l.jpg

Underlying CMMI® Principles

  • CMMI®relationship to productivity, predictability and speed

    Does CMMI Benefit the Customer?

    How Projects Fail

    How to Get Contractors to Live Up to Their CMMI Ratings

SM SCAMPI, SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, and SEI are service marks of Carnegie Mellon University.

® Capability Maturity Model Integration and CMMI® are registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

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People-Related Mistakes

1. Undermined motivation

2. Weak personnel

3. Uncontrolled problem


4. Heroics

5. Adding people to a late project

6. Noisy, crowded offices

7. Friction between developers

and customers

8. Unrealistic expectations

9. Lack of effective project


10. Lack of stakeholder buy-in

11. Lack of user input

12. Politics placed over substance

13. Wishful thinking

Process-Related Mistakes

14. Overly optimistic schedules

15. Insufficient Risk Management

16. Contractor failure Insufficient


17. Abandonment of planning

under pressure

18. Wasted time during the fuzzy front end

19. Shortchanged upstream


20. Inadequate design

21. Shortchanged quality


22. Insufficient management


23. Premature or too frequent


25. Omitting necessary tasks from estimates

26. Planning to catch up later

27. Code-like-hell programming

Product-Related Mistakes

28. Requirements gold-plating

29. Feature creep

30. Developer gold-plating

31. Push me, pull me negotiation

32. Research-oriented


Technology-Related Mistakes

33. Silver-bullet syndrome

34. Overestimated savings from

new tools or methods

35. Switching tools in the middle

of a project

36. Lack of automated

source-code control

Projects Have Historically Suffered from Mistakes

Reference: Steve McConnell, Rapid Development

  • Standish Group survey of 13,000 projects (2003)

  • 34% successes

  • 15% failures

  • 51% overruns

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Many Approaches to Solving the Problem

  • Which weaknesses are causing my problems?

  • Which strengths may mitigate my problems?

  • Which improvement investments offer the best return?









One solution!



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Data-Driven (e.g., Six Sigma, Lean)

Clarify what your customer wants (Voice of Customer)

Critical to Quality (CTQs)

Determine what your processes can do (Voice of Process)

Statistical Process Control

Identify and prioritize improvement opportunities

Causal analysis of data

Determine where your customers/competitors are going (Voice of Business)

Design for Six Sigma

Model-Driven (e.g., CMM®, CMMI®)

Determine the industry best practice

Benchmarking, models

Compare your current practices to the model

Appraisal, education

Identify and prioritize improvement opportunities



Look for ways to optimize the processes

Approaches to Process Improvement

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What Is the CMMI® Trying to Achieve?

A model is a simplified representation of the world. Capability Maturity Models (CMM®s) contain the essential elements of effective processes for one or more bodies of knowledge. These elements are based on the concepts developed by Crosby, Deming, Juran, and Humphrey. -Introduction, CMMI®

  • CMMI® provides a model of industry best practices

  • Following these practices has shown to produce software and systems faster, better, and cheaper, when properly applied

  • The main benefits cited by CMMI® users are:

    • More predictable adherence to budgets and schedules

    • Reduced re-work (which can reduce cost and schedule)

    • Reduced risk

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Process maturity gets at one source of the problem, e.g.,

Are we using proven industry practices?

Does the staff have the resources needed to execute the process?

Is the organization providing effective project support?

The main benefits typically seen are:

Improved predictability of project budgets and schedules

Improved management awareness of problems

Reduced re-work, which improves predictability, cost, and schedule

J. Herbsleb and D. Zubrow, “Software Process Improvement: An Analysis of Assessment Data and Outcomes”

13 organizations

ROI of 4:1 to 9:1

Improved quality, error rates, time to market, productivity

How Do Mature Processes Help?

R. Dion, “Process Improvement and the Corporate Balance Sheet”

  • ROI of 7.7:1: Reduced re-work, improved quality

  • Two-fold increase in productivity


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Underlying CMMI® Principles

Does CMMI Benefit the Customer?

  • Cost of implementing CMMI-compliant processes

  • Timelines for impacting program performance

  • Practical tips and techniques for realizing the benefits

    How Projects Fail

    How to Get Contractors to Live Up to Their CMMI Ratings

SM SCAMPI, SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, and SEI are service marks of Carnegie Mellon University.

® Capability Maturity Model Integration and CMMI® are registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

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CMMI® Provides Several Related Benefits

Project Performance

Organizational Performance



Rick Hefner, “Achieving the Promised Benefits of CMMI,” CMMI Technology Conference & User Group, Denver, CO, 14-17 Nov 2005

Project performance l.jpg

Identifies the elements of good planning

Proven engineering processes

Estimates based on historical data, using these processes

When cost/schedule pressure arises, CMMI®practices track and correct

Reactive (L2)

Proactive, risk management (L3)

Quantitative management (L4)

QA, management ensures processes/plans are followed

Project performance problems often arise because of incomplete or unrealistic planning

Forgotten activities

Unconscious decisions

Overly-optimistic estimates

When cost/schedule pressure arises, people abandon the plans, leading to more problems

Individual judgment versus best use of resources

Project Performance


  • Train project managers on how to use the tools (estimation, earned value, risk management)

  • Project managers (not organizational staff) must be responsible for implementing the improved processes

  • Demand realistic, data-driven estimates


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Standard organizational process, tailored to fit each project

Can be documented, trained, supported by templates

Over time, people learn the process

Common processes/measures allow better use of historical data

Calibrate cost estimation models

Project to project comparisons

Over time, the organization can optimize the process

Each project’s processes are unique

Personnel must re-learn with each project

Difficulty moving people from project to project

Historical data of little use in estimation

No way to compare project-to-project

Which process was best?

What did we learn?

Organizational Performance


  • Develop an organizational process(es) which fits the full range of your projects (small/large, all life cycles and project types)

  • Capture and use historical data (measurement repository)

  • Capture and share project documents (process asset library)


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A disciplined engineering and management process project

Do it right the first time

CMMI identifies the essential steps

Peer reviews find defects early, where it is cost effective to fix them

Requirements, designs, code, plans, etc.

Often more efficient and effective than testing

Many types (Fagan inspections, walkthroughs, desk checks, etc.)

Focus on “faster and cheaper” leads to skipping of essential steps

Key steps are not obvious, often counter intuitive

Fixing latent defects often accounts for 30-40% of project cost

The cost of defects (rework) is seldom measured



  • Focus on eliminating defects, not on faster and cheaper

  • Measure the cost of finding and fixing defects

  • Invest time in learning different methods of peer review and when each is effective


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Short-term investment for long-term gain project

Initial investment in the cost of change, learning curve, new overhead structures

Long-term benefits in increased productivity

Organizational infrastructure exists to support the policies and process

Measurement repositories

Some improvement efforts focus on quick fixes

Driven by yearly budget cycles

Expectation that results will be immediate

It is tempting to reduce overhead to reduce cost


Staff support to projects

Use of outside process experts



  • Expect 18-24 months before benefits begin to be realized

  • Senior management must demand that everyone follow the new processes

  • QA can be the organization’s strongest tool – if they are focused!


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Benefits project

  • The typical benefits are:

    • Reduced cost

    • Faster schedules

    • Greater productivity

    • Higher quality

    • Increased customer satisfaction

  • Over 40 published studies on the benefits of SW-CMM®

    • DoD DACS website: http://www.thedacs.com/databases/roi/

  • Similar results starting to be seen for CMMI®

    • “Demonstrating the Impact and Benefits of CMMI: An Update and Preliminary Results,” Software Engineering Institute, CMU/SEI-2003-SR-009, Oct 2003

    • http://www.sei.cmu.edu/cmmi/results/results-by-category.html


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Reduced Costs project

33% decrease in the average cost to fix a defect (Boeing)

20% reduction in unit software costs (Lockheed Martin)

Reduced cost of poor quality from over 45 percent to under 30 percent over a three year period (Siemens)

10% decrease in overall cost per maturity level (Northrop Grumman)

Faster Schedules

50% reduction in release turnaround time (Boeing)

60% reduction in re-work following test (Boeing)

Increase from 50% to 95% the number of milestones met (General Motors)

Greater Productivity

25-30% increase in productivity within 3 years (Lockheed Martin, Harris, Siemens)

Higher Quality

50% reduction of software defects (Lockheed Martin)

Customer Satisfaction

55% increase in award fees (Lockheed Martin)

Typical CMMI Benefits Cited in Literature

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Cost vs. Benefit project

  • Both theoretical models and industry data suggests that CMMI-compliant projects achieve a cost reduction of 10% per level, i.e., Level 3 is 20% cheaper than Level 1

    • The key is reducing rework

  • Knox Model – Theoretical Benefits

COCOMO predicts similar benefits based on current industry data

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When Good Organizations Go Bad project

  • Some organizations are driven to achieve a maturity level only for it’s marketing value

Focus on passing the appraisal, not understanding and deciding among possible interpretations

Improvement goals are not set realistically (“Level 5 in ’05”)

Practitioners/customers perceive CMMI as more expensive

Only some of the projects participate in the improvement effort

The remaining projects don’t implement

Only some of the projects get appraised

People don’t learn or become proficient in the new behaviors

Insufficient resources (e.g., training, QA, metrics, consultants)

Benefits are not realized because projects do not start up effectively

Management doesn’t enforce using processes on new programs

Rick Hefner, “CMMI Horror Stories: When Good Projects Go Bad,” Software Engineering Process Group Conference , 6-9 March 2006

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What Does a CMMI Level Guarantee? project

Decisions made on the basis of maturity level ratings are only valid if the ratings are based on known criteria.

  • SCAMPI A Method Description Document

  • A CMMI appraisal indicates the organization’s capacity to perform the next project, but cannot guarantee that each new project will perform in that way

  • The CMMI methodology assumes the organization will propagating their processes to every new project

    • An organization that gets appraised solely to demonstrate a maturity level might not have that intent

    • Organizations may not have developed the skills to roll out their processes effectively

  • A CMMI appraisal judges the maturity of the organization’s processes – based upon the projects sampled

    • New projects must embrace the new processes

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How Does Level 4 & 5 Benefit the Customer? project

Better Products and Services Produced Faster And Cheaper

Rick Hefner, “How Does High Maturity Benefit the Customer?,” Systems & Software Technology Conference, 18-22 April 2005


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The Project Manager’s Dilemma at Level 3 project

I want to use the organization’s standard process, but…

… Does it’s performance and quality meet my customer’s expectations?

… If not, how should I tailor the process?


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Managing by Variation project

How many errors are typically found in reviewing an interface specification?

Useful in evaluating future reviews

Was the review effective?

Was the process different?

Is the product different?

Understanding the Process




Corrective and preventative actions

Typical choices in industry l.jpg

Most customers care about: project

Delivered defects

Cost and schedule

So organizations try to predict:

Defects found throughout the lifecycle

Effectiveness of peer reviews, testing

Cost achieved/actual (Cost Performance Index – CPI)

Schedule achieved/actual (Schedule Performance Index – SPI)

Typical Choices in Industry

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What Can a Level 4 Organization Do? project

  • Determine whether processes are behaving consistently or have stable trends (i.e., are predictable)

  • Identify processes where the performance is within natural bounds that are consistent across process implementation teams

  • Establish criteria for identifying whether a process or process element should be statistically managed, and determine pertinent measures and analytic techniques to be used in such management

  • Identify processes that show unusual (e.g., sporadic or unpredictable) behavior

  • Identify any aspects of the processes that can be improved in the organization's set of standard processes

  • Identify the implementation of a process which performs best

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Lessons Learned project

Based on over 20 Northrop Grumman CMMI Level 5 organizations

  • Six Sigma is an enabler for higher maturity

    • Focus on data, measurement systems, process improvement

    • Tying improvements to business goals

    • Tools and methods support the Level 4/5 analysis tasks

  • Level 3 metrics, measurement processes, and goal setting are generally inadequate for Levels 4 and 5

    • Better definitions of the measures

    • Lower level metrics of lower level subprocesses

  • Having all the tools at Level 5 gives you the insight to manage each project the way the customer needs it to be managed


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Agenda project

Underlying CMMI® Principles

Does CMMI Benefit the Customer?

How Projects Fail

  • Start up problems

  • Appraisal inaccuracies

    How to Get Contractors to Live Up to Their CMMI Ratings

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Where Could Problems Arise? project

  • The projects within the organization may not live up to the capability

    • Start-up problems with planning, subcontractors, and infrastructure

    • Problems with staffing, either as the prime or with subcontractors

    • Differences in domain experience

    • Back-sliding

  • The appraisal results may not be an accurate reflection of the organization’s capability

    • Sampling bias

    • Appraisal inaccuracies

    • Organization’s inability to immediately apply their appraised processes

  • Note that all of these problems are equally possible with both the staged and continuous representations


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The First Three Months: projectEssential Project Start-Up Activities

  • Many process-related problems arise in the first few months of a project

    • New relationships are established

    • Personnel changes and shortfalls

    • Pressure to produce quickly

    • Gaps between the planned processes and what was bid

  • If a project is going to live up to the organization’s process capability, it is essential to fully implement the processes from the beginning

    • Processes should be defined during the proposal, by tailoring the organization’s standard process

    • Estimates should be based on historical data from the organization’s measurement repository

    • Process assets (e.g., templates) should support detailed planning to ensure consistency with the organization’s best practices

    • Evidence reviews should be used to ensure CMMI compliance


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The CMMI generic practices ensure that processes are institutionalized – sustained over time

The approach for implementing the generic practices must reflect:



Applicability to ALL projects

Frequent appraisals can be used to assess the effectiveness of the institutionalization

Preventing Back-Sliding

Geoff Draper and Rick Hefner, “Applying CMMI Generic Practices with Good Judgment,” SEPG Conference, 2004.

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Sampling Bias institutionalized – sustained over time

The size and number of instantiations investigated should be selected to form a valid sample of the organizational unit to which the results will be attributed.

- SCAMPI A Method Description Document

  • The Lead Appraiser is permitted to select sample projects as “representative” of the organization as a whole

    • Little guidance in the MDD

    • Wide variation among Lead Appraisers

  • If an organization is only interested in a good appraisal result, they will appraise large organizations with a handful of samples, and/or exclude/hide inferior projects

  • This potential abuse exist with both staged and continuous representations

The remaining projects don’t implement

Only some of the projects get appraised

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Organizational Sampling institutionalized – sustained over time

  • An organization with 50 projects at multiple sites may select 4-5 sample projects

  • Are the appraisal results representative of the organization?

Sampled projects

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Appraisal Inaccuracies institutionalized – sustained over time

  • Methodology

    • SCAMPI A appraisals are the only approach that provides benchmark quality appraisal results

    • SCAMPI B, C, and other appraisal methods may be useful, but they are not designed to provide the same accuracy

  • Appraiser Skill

    • There is wide variation in appraiser skill, experience and insight

    • Although appraisal experience is a crucial contributor to accuracy, the appraisal methods do little to ensure sufficient experience

    • There is also wide variation in how the model is interpreted

  • Appraiser Independence

    • Appraiser independence in needed to ensure unbiased results

    • It is difficult to establish a completely independent situation

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Fiction or Non-Fiction: How to Read Appraisal Results for Fun and Profit

The ADS is a summary statement describing the appraisal results that includes the conditions and constraints under which the appraisal was performed. It contains information considered essential to adequately interpret the meaning of assigned maturity level or capability level ratings.

- SCAMPI A Method Description Document

  • The Appraisal Disclosure Statement (ADS) provides keys to assessing an appraisal’s accuracy

    • Organizational unit appraised (the unit to which the ratings are applicable and the domains examined)

    • Appraisal team leader and appraisal team members and their organizational affiliations

    • Process areas rated and process areas not rated

    • Dates of on-site activity

  • Not included - sampling approach or percentage of projects sampled

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How to Write a Better RFP Fun and Profit

Acquirers seeking to ensure that the proposed project will implement mature practices should request the following:

  • SCAMPI A Appraisal Disclosure Statement

    • Organizational unit appraised

    • Appraisal team leader affiliation

    • Process areas rated and not rated

    • Dates of on-site activity

  • Explanation of sampling approach used in appraisal

  • Approach to be used to ensure proper project start-up

  • Data to demonstrate the speed with which new projects adopt and execute the organization’s processes

  • Approach to be used to prevent back-sliding

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Agenda Fun and Profit

Underlying CMMI® Principles

Does CMMI Benefit the Customer?

How Projects Fail

How to Get Contractors to Live Up to Their CMMI Ratings

  • Contenders and Pretenders

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Background Fun and Profit

  • There is a marked difference between organizations that truly want to implement CMMI®, and those who simply want a “certificate”

  • Contenders invest time and energy on understanding the industry best practices in the model, fitting them to their projects and organization, and improving their effectiveness and efficiency

  • Pretenders simply do enough to convince an appraiser to give them the maturity level -- along the way, they de-motivate their staff with bureaucratic processes, disappoint their customers with inconsistent performance, and generally give the model a bad name

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Where Could Problems Arise? Fun and Profit

Assuming the contractor’s CMMI® rating is accurate, and applicable to the team doing the work, where could problems arise?

  • Areas outside of the CMMI®

  • Start-up problems

  • Back-sliding

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Areas Outside of the CMMI Fun and Profit®







Domain knowledge

Sufficient quantity


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Top Five System Engineering Issues Fun and Profit

  • Lack of awareness of the importance, value, timing, accountability, and organizational structure of SE on programs

  • Adequate, qualified resources are generally not available within Government and industry for allocation on major programs

  • Insufficient SE tools and environments to effectively execute SE on programs

  • Requirements definition, development and management is not applied consistently and effectively

  • Poor initial program formulation

“Top Five Systems Engineering Issues In Defense Industry”, NDIA Systems Engineering Division Task Group Report, Jan, 2003

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Top Software Engineering Issues Fun and Profit

  • The impact of requirements upon software is not consistently quantified and managed in development or sustainment

  • Fundamental system engineering decisions are made without full participation of software engineering.

  • Software life-cycle planning and management by acquirers and suppliers is ineffective.

  • The quantity and quality of software engineering expertise is insufficient to meet the demands of government and the defense industry.

  • Traditional software verification techniques are costly and ineffective for dealing with the scale and complexity of modern systems.

  • There is a failure to assure correct, predictable, safe, secure execution of complex software in distributed environments.

  • Inadequate attention is given to total lifecycle issues for COTS/NDI impacts on lifecycle cost and risk.

“Top Software Engineering Issues In Defense Industry”, NDIA Systems Engineering Division and Software Committee, Sep 2006

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Start-Up Issues Fun and Profit

  • Project Planning starts in the proposal phase, is refreshed at contract start, and re-occurs throughout the project lifecycle

  • Contenders extend their CMMI practices to proposal teams and re-planning efforts

  • Pretenders focus on contract start

    • Costs and schedules defined at proposals may be immature and overly-aggressive

    • Re-planning may be ad hoc

  • Mature estimates may also be overruled by business interests

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CMMI Fun and Profit® Project Planning - Goal 1

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CMMI Fun and Profit® Project Planning - Goal 2

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CMMI Fun and Profit® Project Planning – Goal 3

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Keys to Success Fun and Profit

  • Ask suppliers to show how they extend the CMMI practices to proposal activities

  • Request planning documents with the proposal

  • During re-planning, ask suppliers to show how they performed the CMMI practices

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When mentioned in the generic goal and generic practice descriptions, institutionalization implies that the process is ingrained in the way the work is performed and there is commitment and consistency to performing the process.

An institutionalized process is more likely to be retained during times of stress.

GG 2 Institutionalize a Managed Process

GP 2.1 Establish an Organizational Policy

GP 2.2 Plan the Process

GP 2.3 Provide Resources

GP 2.4 Assign Responsibility

GP 2.5 Train People

GP 2.6 Manage Configurations

GP 2.7 Identify and Involve Relevant Stakeholders

GP 2.8 Monitor and Control the Process

GP 2.9 Objectively Evaluate Adherence

GP 2.10 Review Status with Higher Level Management

GG 3 Institutionalize a Defined Process

GP 3.1 Establish a Defined Process

GP 3.2 Collect Improvement Information

Back-Sliding: A Failure of Institutionalization

Institutionalization: The ingrained way of doing business that an organization follows routinely as part of its corporate culture.

- CMMI-DEV v1.2

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Common Features – descriptions, institutionalization implies that the process is ingrained in the way the work is performed and there is commitment and consistency to performing the process.A Lost Perspective in CMMI ®v1.2!

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Organizational Support descriptions, institutionalization implies that the process is ingrained in the way the work is performed and there is commitment and consistency to performing the process.


  • Fully support the CMMI ® -based improvement program by providing training, templates, tools, process assets libraries, measurement repositories and other work aids focused on improving the ability of practitioners to competently adopt the model


  • Largely ignore organizational support, often to save money

  • Where required by the model, they establish process asset libraries and measurement repositories, but they are largely shelfware

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Organizational Infrastructure Required for CMMI descriptions, institutionalization implies that the process is ingrained in the way the work is performed and there is commitment and consistency to performing the process.® Level 3

Policies, Processes,Templates & Tools

Process Group

Training Program

Process Improvement

Measurement Repositories

Predictive Modeling

Best-Practice Libraries

Audits & Appraisals


Developing and maintaining mature processes requires significant time and investment in infrastructure

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Organizational Culture descriptions, institutionalization implies that the process is ingrained in the way the work is performed and there is commitment and consistency to performing the process.

A pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way you perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems.

  • Artifacts

    • The practices that can be observed in such areas as dress code, leadership style, communication processes

  • Espoused values

    • The elements the organization says it believes in, the factors that it says influence the practices in which it engages

  • Basic underlying assumptions

    • Unstated beliefs the organization has come to accept and abide by

Organizational Culture & Leadership, Edgar H Schein, used with permission

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Management Commitment and Support descriptions, institutionalization implies that the process is ingrained in the way the work is performed and there is commitment and consistency to performing the process.

  • Understands the key messages

  • Is willing to take actions to reinforce them

  • Provides resources to support/sustain process improvement efforts

  • Sets expectations that essential project functions will be funded and processes will be followed

    • Project planning, estimation, tailoring, CM, QA, etc.

  • Supports process improvement and sustainment, rather than passing appraisals

  • Rewards mature processes development and sustainment rather than individual heroics

Rick Hefner, “Sustaining CMMI Compliance,” 2006 CMMI Technology Conference and User Group

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Keys to Success descriptions, institutionalization implies that the process is ingrained in the way the work is performed and there is commitment and consistency to performing the process.

  • Ask suppliers to show how they perform the CMMI generic practices

  • When problems occur, ask why the CMMI practices were not effective in sustaining the desired behavior, and what will be done to prevent future problems

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Summary descriptions, institutionalization implies that the process is ingrained in the way the work is performed and there is commitment and consistency to performing the process.

  • There is a marked difference between organizations that truly want to implement CMMI®, and those who are simply try to get a “certificate”

  • By discussing the differences, we hope to help the CMMI® community the true value of CMMI®