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Nov 22

CMMI® Implementation – 10 Actions For Success

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Nov 22

CMMI® Implementation – 10 Actions For Success

Implementing any new system within a company is often a challenge and this holds true when a company decides to implement the CMMI® model.  There are some activities that can help ensure a successful and somewhat stress free implementation and I’m going to describe ten actions that can increase the likelihood of success when implementing the CMMI® model into your company or organization.

Here are the 10 actions:

1. Implement CMMI® for the right reason

2. Establish realistic implementation goals

3. Demonstrate senior management full support

4. Communicate why the implementation is being done and how important it is to the company

5. Describe how the CMMI® will affect everyone

6. Assign CMMI® implementation responsibility to the right person

7. Establish two process improvement groups

8. Define where the company currently is in regards to its documented processes.

9. Document your organization’s processes

10. Engage a CMMI Institute Certified lead appraiser to help and guide the organization along the way.

1.    Implement CMMI® for the right reasons. The right reasons for doing anything in business is to make your operations more efficient, effective, and profitable.  If the sole purpose of implementing the CMMI® is to be appraised and achieve a maturity level, then the likelihood of continuing to use the CMMI® and gaining the full benefits are low.  You want your organization to fully embrace process improvement and implement the CMMI® with the goal of continuously improving your processes.  Being appraised and achieving a maturity level should be a natural by-product.

2.    Establish realistic implementation goals. Implementing and institutionalizing the CMMI® will take some time.  Far too often I hear organizations say they want to achieve a maturity level as quick as possible.  The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) statistics indicate that it will take from 12 to 18 months to go from one maturity level to another.  The timing really depends on how long it takes the organization to document, train, deploy and institutionalize their processes. Taking the time to fully understand what each of these steps entails will help set a goal that everyone in your organization agrees is achievable.

3.    Demonstrate senior management full support. If senior management is not fully onboard to support the CMMI® implementation, then don’t even try.  One senior manager, the sponsor, must vocalize their full support of the CMMI® often. He/She must also show support by providing personnel time to work on process improvement, provide the funding, and most importantly follow the processes himself/herself.  Nothing will destroy the implementation of CMMI® quicker than for senior management to disregard processes.  A prime example of this is when a senior manager rams in a requirement change rather than following the documented change management process.

4.    Communicate why the implementation is being done and how important it is to the company. This should be done often and come from senior management – people need to know that senior management supports this.  One organization I worked with had TVs at every elevator area.  People could watch the company news and announcements while they waited for an elevator.  This would be a great venue for senior manager to communicate announcements and reminders about the importance of process improvement.

5.    Describe how the CMMI® will affect everyone. People get nervous when anything new is to happen within their company.  One of the biggest misinterpretations when implementing the CMMI® is that people think that they will be told how to do their job and they will have no input on the processes they will be expected to follow.  This is not the case.  There needs to be an orientation to let everyone know what the CMMI is and how it will affect them.  This is a good opportunity to explain how long the CMMI has been around, what it is about, and the positive impact it has had on other organizations.

6.    Assign CMMI® implementation responsibility to the right person. Companies often make a mistake when assigning someone to be in charge of the CMMI® implementation.  The first possible mistake is putting someone in charge who is on the bench or otherwise awaiting another assignment. They are assigned to manage the CMMI implementation project regardless of their interests, qualifications, or experience.  The second possible mistake is putting someone in charge who may be the best person for the assignment but who is already overbooked and nothing is removed from his/her plate.  In either case, the person assigned responsibility for the process improvement initiative does not have the interest or time required to ensure a successful implementation.

7.    Establish two process improvement groups. No matter how good the person responsible for CMMI® implementation is, he or she will need the support of two separate process improvement groups.  One is a group of persons from each department, project, or area; typically made up of managers or leads.  Often referred to as the organization’s process group (OPG), this is the heart of process improvement with the company.  The other is an executive group typically called the executive steering committee.  This second group is made up of the sponsor and senior managers, and has the responsibility for executive level process improvement decisions.

8.    Define where the company currently is in regards to its documented processes. Before implementing the CMMI® and making changes, you need to know where your existing processes stand relative to the CMMI®.  The best way to do this is to have a CMMI specialist such as an SEI-certified lead appraiser conduct a gap analysis.  He/she will produce a practice by practice report to specify the areas that are being implemented and the ones that need improvement to comply with the CMMI® model.  This report will suggest a strategy and plan for realizing your process improvement goals.

9.    Document your organization’s processes. Based on the results of your gap analysis (point 8), the organization’s processes can now be documented.  There are three approaches for documenting processes.  The first approach has the persons responsible for performing the process, document what they do – using a template so all processes have similar format.  The second approach has someone interview the persons responsible for performing the process, and the interviewer documents the process.  For processes that are not currently being done, a tool or template that gives guidance on what is expected may be valuable to obtain.  All personnel who will be performing this process need to peer review the documented process.  This will help identify missing/inaccurate elements, and will also serve as training for this process.

The third approach is to purchase a tool like CMMI Live that will aid you in documenting your organization’s processes.  A tool will save time and money if it contains easily customizable processes and templates and if it addresses all practices within CMMI® at least up to maturity level 3.  CMMI Live has a CMMI® compliant infrastructure which contains processes and templates for you to customize or update to the way your company does business.  CMMI Live provides processes for each practice within the CMMI® model to maturity level 3.

10.    Engage an CMMI Institute certified lead appraiser to help and guide the organization along the way.No one can take the place of an CMMI Institute certified lead appraiser who has experience implementing the CMMI® in a variety of organizations within different industries.  Involving your lead appraiser early in the CMMI® implementation process is critical in saving your company both time and money as the CMMI® implementation begins.

As you can see executing these actions will help ensure a successful CMMI® implementation because your organization’s senior management and all affected personnel will be involved every step along the way.  Our next post will talk about how our CMMI LIVE social platform can aid your organization in implementing the CMMI quicker, easier and at a much lower cost than you can imagine.

If you want to ask your own questions, you can ask in our contact us section. Kevin Cotherman and Debbie O’Grady will get them answered on the next ”Ask The Lead Appraisers” webinar – or if you wish to remain anonymous, just send us an email.

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