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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

CMM Overview


1 The Process MaturityFramework

After two decades of unfulfilled promises about productivity and quality gains from applying new software methodologies and technologies, industry and government organizations are realizing that their fundamental problem is the inability to manage the software process [DoD87]. The benefits of better methods and tools cannot be realized in the maelstrom of an undisciplined, chaotic project. In many organizations, projects are often excessively late and double the planned budget [Siegel90]. In such instances, the organization frequently is not providing the
infrastructure and support necessary to help projects avoid these problems. Even in disciplined organizations, however, some individual software projects produce excellent results. When such projects succeed, it is generally through the heroic efforts of a dedicated team, rather than through repeating the proven methods of an organization with a mature software process. In the absence of an organization-wide software process, repeating results depends entirely on having the same individuals available for the next project. Success that rests solely on the availability of specific individuals provides no basis for long-term productivity and quality improvement throughout an organization. Continuous improvement can occur only through focused and sustained effort towards building a process infrastructure of effective software engineering and management practices.

1.1 Immature Versus Mature Software Organizations

Setting sensible goals for process improvement requires an understanding of the difference between immature and mature software organizations. In an immature software organization, software processes are generally improvised by practitioners and their management during the course of the project. Even if a software process has been specified, it is not rigorously followed or enforced. The immature software organization is reactionary, and managers are usually focused on solving immediate crises (better known as fire fighting). Schedules and budgets are routinely exceeded because they are not based on realistic estimates. When hard deadlines are
imposed, product functionality and quality are often compromised to meet the schedule.
In an immature organization, there is no objective basis for judging product quality or for solving product or process problems. Therefore, product quality is difficult to predict. Activities intended to enhance quality such as reviews and testing are often curtailed or eliminated when projects fall behind schedule.
On the other hand, a mature software organization possesses an organization-wide ability for managing software development and maintenance processes. The software process is accurately communicated to both existing staff and new employees, and work activities are carried out
according to the planned process. The processes mandated are fit for use [Humphrey91b] and consistent with the way the work actually gets done. These defined processes are updated when necessary, and improvements are developed through controlled pilot-tests and/or cost benefit analyses. Roles and responsibilities within the defined process are clear throughout
the project and across the organization.
In a mature organization, managers monitor the quality of the software products and customer satisfaction. There is an objective, quantitative basis for judging product quality and analyzing problems with the product and process. Schedules and budgets are based on historical performance and are realistic; the expected results for cost, schedule, functionality, and quality of the product are usually achieved. In general, a disciplined process is consistently followed because all of the participants understand the value of doing so, and the necessary infrastructure exists to support the process.
Capitalizing on these observations about immature and mature software organizations requires construction of a software process maturity framework. This framework describes an evolutionary path from ad hoc, chaotic processes to mature, disciplined software processes. Without this framework, improvement programs may prove ineffective because the necessary foundation for supporting successive improvements has not been established. The software process maturity framework emerges from integrating the concepts of software process, software process capability, software process performance, and software process maturity, all of which are defined in succeeding paragraphs.


1.2 Fundamental Concepts Underlying Process Maturity

According to Webster's dictionary, a process is "a system of operations in producing something ... a series of actions, changes, or functions that achieve an end or result." The IEEE defines a process as "a sequence of steps performed for a given purpose" [IEEE-STD-610]. A software process can be defined as a set of activities, methods, practices, and transformations that
people use to develop and maintain software and the associated products (e.g., project plans, design documents, code, test cases, and user manuals). As an organization matures, the software process becomes better defined and more consistently implemented throughout the organization.
Software process capability describes the range of expected results that can be achieved by following a software process. The software process capability of an organization provides one means of predicting the most likely outcomes to be expected from the next software project the organization undertakes.
Software process performance represents the actual results achieved by following a software process. Thus, software process performance focuses on the results achieved, while software process capability focuses on results expected. Based on the attributes of a specific project and the context within which it is conducted, the actual performance of the project may not reflect
the full process capability of the organization; i.e., the capability of the project is constrained by its environment. For instance, radical changes in the application or technology undertaken may place a project' s staff on a learning curve that causes their project's capability, and performance, to fall short of the organization's full process capability.
Software process maturity is the extent to which a specific process is explicitly defined,managed, measured, controlled, and effective. Maturity implies a potential for growth in capability and indicates both the richness of an organization's software process and the consistency with which it is applied in projects throughout the organization. The software process is well-understood throughout a mature organization, usually through documentation and training, and the process is continually being monitored and improved by its users. The capability of a mature software
process is known. Software process maturity implies that the productivity and quality resulting from an organization’s software process can be improved over time through consistent gains in the discipline achieved by using its software process.
As a software organization gains in software process maturity, it institutionalizes its software process via policies, standards, and organizational structures. Institutionalization entails building an infrastructure and a corporate culture that supports the methods, practices, and procedures of the business so that they endure after those who originally defined them have gone.


2 The Five Levels of Software Process Maturity

Continuous process improvement is based on many small, evolutionary steps rather than revolutionary innovations [Imai86]. The CMM provides a framework for organizing these evolutionary steps into five maturity levels that lay successive foundations for continuous process improvement. These five maturity levels define an ordinal scale for measuring the
maturity of an organization's software process and for evaluating its software process capability. The levels also help an organization prioritize its improvement efforts.

A maturity level is a well-defined evolutionary plateau toward achieving a mature software process. Each maturity level provides a layer in the foundation for continuous process improvement. Each level comprises a set of process goals that, when satisfied, stabilize an important component of the software process. Achieving each level of the maturity framework
establishes a different component in the software process, resulting in an increase in the process capability of the organization.

Organizing the CMM into the five levels shown in Figure 2.1 prioritizes improvement actions for increasing software process maturity. The labeled arrows in Figure 2.1 indicate the type of process capability being institutionalized by the organization at each step of the maturity
framework.





The following characterizations of the five maturity levels highlight the primary process changes made at each level:

1) Initial The software process is characterized as ad hoc, and occasionally even chaotic. Few processes are defined, and success depends on individual effort.

2) Repeatable Basic project management processes are established to track cost, schedule, and functionality. The necessary process discipline is in place to repeat earlier successes on projects with similar applications.

3) Defined The software process for both management and engineering activities is documented, standardized, and integrated into a standard software process for the organization. All projects use an approved, tailored version of the organization's standard software process for developing and maintaining software.

4) Managed Detailed measures of the software process and product quality are collected. Both the software process and products are quantitatively understood and controlled.

5) Optimizing Continuous process improvement is enabled by quantitative feedback from the process and from piloting innovative ideas and technologies.

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