Authorized SCAMPI Appraisals of CMMI Practices

Some of you have noticed that we offer CMMI consulting, and have asked, “What is CMMI?”

For more than 20 years, the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) has had the national mandate to advance the state of the practice of software engineering and to serve as a national resource in software engineering and technology. The SEI is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense and operated by Carnegie Mellon University.

CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integrated) is a process improvement framework developed by the SEI to enable organizations to improve productivity and overall product quality. CMMI provides a set of best practices to improve their ability to manage the development, acquisition, and maintenance of products and services to gain maximum efficiency, profitability, and customer satisfaction.

The CMMI product suite enables an organization to select one or more of the disciplines, such as CMMI for System Engineering,Software EngineeringIntegrated Product and Process Development, or Supplier Sourcing. The built-in flexibility of CMMI offers the opportunity for an organization to tailor the framework to its business environment, and thus gain the maximum return on its enterprise-wide process improvement investment, including the significant improvement on predictability of the critical measures of cost, schedule, performance, and stakeholder satisfaction.

CMMI provides two representations to allow for flexibility in the organization’s process improvement program. The stagedrepresentation provides a step-by-step approach to improve from ad hoc to more predictable, effective, and controlled processes. The continuous representation allows the organization to focus on capabilities within the process areas that will maximize improvement benefits for the organization.

Staged Representation
If you choose the staged representation for your organization, expect that the model will do the following:

  • Provide a proven sequence of improvements, beginning with basic management practices and progressing through a predefined and proven path of successive levels
  • Permit comparisons across and among organizations based on ratings (called “maturity levels”) of large groups of related best practices
  • Provide a single rating that summarizes appraisal results and allows comparisons among organizations

Continuous Representation
If you choose the continuous representation for your organization, expect that the model will do the following:

  • Allow you to select the order of improvement that best meets your business objectives by first prioritizing and mitigating the organization’s areas of highest risk
  • Enable comparisons across and among organizations based on ratings called “capability levels” of small groups of related best practices (or based on equivalent staging*)
  • Afford an easy comparison of process improvement to ISO because the organization of best practices is similar to ISO 15504

*Note: Equivalent staging is used to relate the ratings from the continuous representation (capability levels) to the ratings resulting from the staged representation (maturity levels). Equivalent staging enables the results of appraisals using the continuous representation to be translated into maturity levels, thereby enabling those using the continuous representation to achieve a maturity level rating. Maturity levels are typically used for benchmarking progress among organizations, enterprises, and projects, and are used as a measure of quality by some organizations.

The process maturity and/or capability of an organization can be assessed via a Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPI).

Mini-Appraisal (SCAMPI C)

When beginning a process improvement journey, or when moving to the next level of your current process improvement plan, it is important to determine your starting point. Every organization has a quality system in place, or they wouldn’t be in business. Many organizations fail to really examine their process status prior to beginning their process improvement program. They pick a model and use it like a requirements document, regardless of whether it works well for their organization.

It is important to determine what your organizational culture and business needs are as you either begin, or continue, your process improvement journey. By determining your current strengths and weaknesses, you can build on your strengths to help fill the process gaps and generally attain process success faster and less stressfully. Therefore, we recommend conducting a SCAMPI C when an organization is beginning its process improvement journey, or midway between formal assessments (to keep the organization on the right track).

The way we conduct our SCAMPI C, it is designed to provide detailed appraisal results with minimal corporate investment. The SCAMPI C consists of the same basic steps of the more formal appraisals (plan and prepare, conduct, and report), yet it is scaled down to reduce the impact to the organization and its resources.

Organizations just beginning their process improvement journey can use the SCAMPI C to determine, minimize, or control the degree of change to the organization, while using the positive results to jump start the process improvement program. Organizations currently engaged in their process improvement program can use the SCAMPI C to verify that improvements that have been made resulted in maximum benefit to the organization, and to determine the areas requiring attention if they are to achieve their next process improvement goal.

The SCAMPI C appraisal typically takes between 3 to 5 days. Its findings and recommendations are based on the expert judgment of the appraisal leader. Our SEI authorized appraisal leader, Barbara Hilden, follows a SCAMPI C method which is tailored to fit the needs of your organization. The level of detail used to assess each area of the model is not as thorough as it would be in a more formal appraisal. In general, the results of the SCAMPI C tend to be more judgmental than those of the more formal appraisal, as she often uses her extensive experience in the field to make calls on areas where documentation is not as well defined as it should be, or where processes are inappropriate for the organization.

The SCAMPI C includes:

  • An appraisal plan, including a definition of the organizational appraisal objectives
  • An opening briefing, summarizing the appraisal objectives, process maturity concepts, and the SCAMPI C method
  • A review of “organizational” documents (policies, procedures, guidelines, training materials, etc.)
  • A review of “project” documents (project plans, CM plans, QA plans, Risk Management Plans, Requirements Traceability Matrices, etc.)
  • Interviews with management and practitioners
  • A complete appraisal findings presentation.

final findings presentation is delivered to a sponsor-selected audience upon conclusion of the site visit. Complete appraisal results are produced using an appraisal tool, and if desired, improvement action plans can also be produced.

Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPI)

The Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPI) is designed to provide benchmark quality ratings relative to the CMMI models. It is applicable to a wide range of appraisal usage modes, including both internal process improvement and external capability determinations. SCAMPI satisfies all the Appraisal Requirements for CMMI (ARC) requirements for a Class A appraisal method and can support the conduct of ISO 15504 assessments.

SCAMPI v1.1 enables a sponsor to:

  • gain insight into an organization’s engineering capability by identifying the strengths and weaknesses of its current processes
  • relate these strengths and weaknesses to the CMMI model
  • prioritize improvement plans
  • focus on improvements (correct weaknesses that generate risks) most beneficial to the organization given its current level of maturity or process capabilities
  • derive capability level ratings, as well as, a maturity level rating
  • identify development/acquisition risks relative to capability/maturity determinations

The SCAMPI typically takes around 3 months to complete, including planning, preparation, and execution. Additional time may be required to produce a final written report. The SCAMPI is completed in three phases: 1) planning and preparing, 2) conducting, and 3) reporting the results.

Phase 1: Plan and Prepare for the Appraisal 

During this phase, the appraisal leader works with the appraisal sponsor and technical point of contact to determine the appraisal inputs and develop the appraisal plan as required by the SCAMPI.  During this phase the appraisal input and plan will be developed to include:

  • Appraisal purpose and parameters
  • Appraisal scope (CMMI and Organizational)
  • Planned method tailoring
  • Appraisal outputs and constraints
  • Appraisal activities, resources, and schedule
  • Appraisal risks
  • Logistical requirements and arrangements for conducting the appraisal

appraisal input and plan are developed iteratively with other preparation activities that are completed during this phase.  These activities include:

  • Conducting team training
  • Collecting objective evidence by the organization
  • Conducting appraisal readiness reviews as appropriate, including:

– Organizational structure, roles and responsibilities
– Project profiles for proposed past and current projects
– Project profiles for proposed past and current projects
– Process improvement plans and process documentation
– Other information that will aid in the successful completion of the appraisal

  • Preparing the opening presentation and any other necessary presentations

Because of the significant investment and logistical planning involved, considerable iteration and refinement of planning activities should be expected. Preparation activities conducted by the appraised organization are critical to the efficient execution of the SCAMPI appraisal. Analysis of preliminary objective evidence provided by the appraised organization plays a critical role in setting the stage for the appraisal execution. If substantial data are missing at this point, subsequent appraisal activities can be delayed, or even canceled, if the judgment is made that continuing appraisal activities will not be sufficient to make up for the deficiency.

The outputs from the planning and preparation phase take the form of information documented in the appraisal input, appraisal plan, and/or opening presentation, and various worksheets and/or databases retained by the team members for use in conducting the appraisal phase.

Phase 2: Conduct the Appraisal

During this phase, the appraisal team focuses on collecting data from the appraised organization to judge the extent to which the model is implemented. The conduct of this phase varies depending on the scope of the appraisal and the characteristics of the appraised organization. The steps completed by the appraisal team during this phase include:

  • Orientation to the site and the logistical arrangements for the appraisal
  • Opening presentations by the appraisal team and the organization
  • Document reviews
  • Management and practitioner interviews
  • Data consolidation
  • Draft findings preparation and presentations
  • Follow on interviews and final document reviews, as needed

Phase 3: Report the Appraisal Results

During this phase, the appraisal team focuses on reporting the results of the appraisal to both the organization and the CMMI Steward (SEI) as required. The steps completed by the appraisal team during this phase include:

  • Preparing and presenting final findings
  • Participating in executive sessions, as required
  • Forwarding the agreed to appraisal record to the CMMI steward (SEI)

Appraisal Readiness Review

An Appraisal Readiness Review will determine if your organization is prepared for the planned formal appraisal. We review an inventory of the objective evidence and determine if sufficient objective evidence is available to proceed with the appraisal as it is currently planned.

During the readiness review the appraisal team reviews:

  • Compliance Matrix Responses
  • Organizational Documents
  • Project Documents
  • Process Asset Libraries
  • Process Databases

This review is a required part of the SCAMPI methodology and typically takes place in conjunction with the team training during the final preparation for the appraisal. Early readiness reviews can be scheduled as needed early in the planning phase. If it is found that insufficient objective evidence is available for the appraisal to proceed as planned, a re-planning effort is done with the appraisal leader, the appraisal technical point of contact, and the appraisal sponsor.

Consulting Services

We collaborate with your organization to compliment and support your process improvement staff. We do this through our skills and expertise, along with guidance and monitoring, to enable successful implementation of your process improvement program. This approach will allow your organization to maximize the benefits from the process improvement program, while minimizing your dependence on outside consultants.

We provide process improvement, model orientations, and tools support for your organization, and work with you in selecting the optimum methods for process improvement depending on your needs, areas of technology, and your client base.

We evaluate your organization and its existing processes using a compliance tool, and develop a tailored process improvement approach that fits your needs. From those identified needs, we will work with you to prioritize the improvements that will provide the maximum payback in the shortest period of time, without losing sight of the long-range process improvement goals. From these prioritized actions, we will assist you in developing your Process Improvement Plan (PIP).

We assist you in setting up and training your Process Improvement organization, including your Engineering Process Group, Training Group, and Quality Assurance Group. We will work with these people to analyze, design, review, and implement needed policies, standards, and procedures. We will also train and assist your staff in assessing progress against the Process Improvement Plan. And, we will ensure that Management is kept informed of progress at every step of the journey.

Appraisal Services

We provide both formal and informal appraisals tailored to fit your organization’s needs. These appraisals are designed to determine the maturity and/or capability of your organization. Each appraisal is “custom fit” to your organization to ensure all requirements are fully met. We work with your organization to ensure your business needs and the requirements of your clients are fully understood and appropriately incorporated into the conduct of the appraisal. We also provide mini-appraisals, risk assessments, and appraisal readiness reviews to assist your organization in preparing for a formal appraisal.

One of our Associates, Barbara Hilden, is authorized by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) as an appraisal leader for both Software Capability Evaluation (SCE) and Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPI).  We can provide the type of appraisal that fits your business needs.

We conduct cost-effective appraisals to minimize the impact on your organization while maximizing the objective results of the appraisal. Our reputation for high standards, ethical conduct, and quality appraisal results are known throughout the community. We work to ensure that the findings are easily understood and can be used to improve your processes.

CMMI Consultant

Barbara Hilden has over nineteen years of experience in the computer industry. She is an authorized SCAMPI Lead Assessor and CMMI Instructor, Lead Evaluator (SCE V3.0), and ISO 9001 Internal Auditor. She has implemented process improvement initiatives, including CMMI, SW CMM, SA CMM, and ISO 9001. She has led or participated in over 40 formal appraisals and multiple audits and mini-appraisals for the SW-CMM, the FAA-iCMM, ISO 9001, EIA/IS 731 SE CM, and the CMMI in a wide variety of organizations from very small to global organizations.

SCE, SCAMPI, SCAMPI Lead Assessor, SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, and SEI are service marks of Carnegie Mellon University.
® Capability Maturity Model, CMM, and CMMI are registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office by Carnegie Mellon University.