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Introduction to CMMI-ACQ

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In this introduction to their book, the authors explain CMMI for Acquisition (CMMI-ACQ), which provides an opportunity to avoid or eliminate barriers in the acquisition process through practices and terminology that transcend the interests of individual departments or groups.
This chapter is from the book

Now more than ever, organizations are increasingly becoming acquirers1 of needed capabilities by obtaining products and services from suppliers and developing fewer of these capabilities in-house. The intent of this widely adopted business strategy is to improve an organization’s operational efficiencies by leveraging suppliers’ capabilities to deliver quality solutions rapidly, at a lower cost, and with the most appropriate technology.

Acquisition of needed capabilities is challenging because acquirers must take overall accountability for satisfying the user of the needed capability while allowing the supplier to perform the tasks necessary to develop and provide the solution.

According to recent studies, 20 percent to 25 percent of large information technology (IT) acquisition projects fail within two years and 50 percent fail within five years. Mismanagement, an inability to articulate customer needs, poor requirements definition, inadequate supplier selection and contracting processes, insufficient technology selection procedures, and uncontrolled requirements changes are factors that contribute to project failure. Responsibility is shared by both the supplier and the acquirer. The majority of project failures could be avoided if the acquirer learned how to properly prepare for, engage with, and manage suppliers.

In addition to these challenges, an overall key to a successful acquirer–supplier relationship is communication.

Unfortunately, many organizations have not invested in the capabilities necessary to effectively manage projects in an acquisition environment. Too often acquirers disengage from the project once the supplier is hired. Too late they discover that the project is not on schedule, deadlines will not be met, the technology selected is not viable, and the project has failed.

The acquirer has a focused set of major objectives. These objectives include the requirement to maintain a relationship with the final users of the capability to fully comprehend their needs. The acquirer owns the project, executes overall project management, and is accountable for delivering the needed capabilities to the users. Thus, these acquirer responsibilities may extend beyond ensuring that the right capability is delivered by chosen suppliers to include such activities as integrating the overall product or service, transitioning it into operation, and obtaining insight into its appropriateness and adequacy to continue to meet customer needs.

CMMI for Acquisition (CMMI-ACQ) provides an opportunity to avoid or eliminate barriers in the acquisition process through practices and terminology that transcend the interests of individual departments or groups.

This document provides guidance to help the acquirer apply CMMI best practices.

CMMI-ACQ contains 22 process areas. Of those, 16 are CMMI Model Foundation (CMF) process areas that cover process management, project management, and support. We will discuss CMF in more detail later in this chapter.

Six process areas focus on practices specific to acquisition addressing agreement management, acquisition requirements development, acquisition technical management, acquisition validation, acquisition verification, and solicitation and supplier agreement development.

All CMMI-ACQ model practices focus on the activities of the acquirer. Those activities include supplier sourcing, supplier agreement development and award, and management of the acquisition of capabilities, including the acquisition of both products and services. Supplier activities are not addressed in this document. Suppliers and acquirers who also develop products and services should consider using the CMMI for Development (CMMI-DEV) model.

About Capability Maturity Models

In its research to help organizations develop and maintain quality products and services, the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) has identified several dimensions that an organization can focus on to improve its business. Figure 1.1 illustrates the three critical dimensions on which organizations typically focus: people, procedures and methods, and tools and equipment.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1 The Three Critical Dimensions

But what holds everything together? It is the processes used in your organization. Processes allow you to align the way you do business. They allow you to address scalability and provide a way to incorporate knowledge of how to do things better. Processes allow you to leverage your resources and to examine business trends.

This is not to say that people and technology are not important. We are living in a world where technology is changing by an order of magnitude every ten years. Similarly, people typically work for many companies throughout their careers. We live in a dynamic world. A focus on process provides the infrastructure and stability necessary to deal with an ever-changing world and to maximize the productivity of people and the use of technology to be more competitive.

Manufacturing has long recognized the importance of process effectiveness and efficiency. Today, many organizations in manufacturing and service industries recognize the importance of quality processes. Process helps an organization’s work force meet business objectives by helping them work smarter, not harder, and with improved consistency. Effective processes also provide a vehicle for introducing and using new technology in a way that best meets the organization’s business objectives.

In the 1930s, Walter Shewhart began work in process improvement with his principles of statistical quality control [Shewhart 1931]. These principles were refined by W. Edwards Deming [Deming 1986], Phillip Crosby [Crosby 1979], and Joseph Juran [Juran 1988]. Watts Humphrey, Ron Radice, and others extended these principles even further and began to apply them to software in their work at IBM and the SEI [Humphrey 1989]. Humphrey’s book, Managing the Software Process, provides a description of the basic principles and concepts on which many of the Capability Maturity Models (CMMs) are based.

The SEI has taken the process management premise, “the quality of a system or product is highly influenced by the quality of the process used to develop and maintain it,” and defined CMMs that embody this premise. The belief in this premise is seen worldwide in quality movements, as evidenced by the International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) body of standards.

CMMs focus on improving processes in an organization. They contain the essential elements of effective processes for one or more disciplines and describe an evolutionary improvement path from ad hoc, immature processes to disciplined, mature processes with improved quality and effectiveness.

The SEI created the first CMM designed for software organizations and published it in a book, Capability Maturity Model: Guidelines for Improving the Software Process [SEI 1995].

Today, CMMI is an application of the principles introduced almost a century ago to this never-ending cycle of process improvement. The value of this process improvement approach has been confirmed over time. Organizations have experienced increased productivity and quality, improved cycle time, and more accurate and predictable schedules and budgets [Gibson 2006].

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