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Introduction to CMMI for Services

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Do you need CMMI? If you have problems such as plans that are made but not necessarily followed; inconsistent expectations and service levels; a crisis atmosphere amidst over-commitments and overruns; and unhappy customers, you should read this chapter to see if CMMI is right for your service business.
This chapter is from the book

The service industry is a significant driver for worldwide economic growth. Guidance on developing and improving service processes is a critical contributor to improved performance, customer satisfaction, and profitability. The CMMI for Services (CMMI-SVC) model was designed to begin meeting that need for guidance within the CMMI Product Suite.

All CMMI-SVC model practices focus on the activities of the service provider organization. Seven process areas focus on practices specific to services, addressing capacity and availability management, service continuity, service delivery, incident resolution and prevention, service transition, service system development, and strategic service management processes. The remaining 17 process areas focus on practices that any organization should master to meet its business objectives.

Do You Need CMMI?

CMMI is being adopted by organizations all over the world. These organizations are large and small, government and private industry, and represent industries ranging from financial to health care, manufacturing to software, education to business services. What do all of these organizations have in common?

Do You Have These Common Problems?

Many organizations accept common problems as "normal," and they don't try to address them or eliminate them. What about your organization? Are you settling for less? Take a look through the following list and see if you have accepted problems that you can solve by adopting CMMI.

  • Plans are made but not necessarily followed.
  • Work is not tracked against the plan; plans are not adjusted.
  • Expectations and service levels are not consistent; changes to them are not managed.
  • Estimates are way off; over-commitment is common.
  • When overruns become apparent, a crisis atmosphere develops.
  • Most problems are discovered in operations or, worse yet, by the customer.
  • Success depends on heroic efforts by competent staff members.
  • Repeatability of effective behaviors is questionable.

Even if you've accepted that your organization could use something to reduce or eliminate these problems, some service providers reject the idea of using process improvement to address or resolve them. Some mythology has grown up around the idea of using process improvement. You may have heard some of these fallacies.

  • I don't need process improvement; I have good people (or advanced technology, or an experienced manager).
  • Process improvement interferes with creativity and introduces bureaucracy.
  • Process improvement is useful only in large organizations and costs too much.
  • Process improvement hinders agility in fast-moving markets.1

These common misconceptions serve only as excuses for organizations not willing to make the changes needed to move ahead, address their problems, and improve their bottom line.

Another way to look at whether your organization could benefit from CMMI is to think about whether it is often operating in crisis mode. Crisis mode is characterized by the following:

  • Staff members working harder and longer
  • Staff members moving from team to team
  • Service teams lowering expectations to meet delivery deadlines
  • Service teams adding more people to meet expectations or deadlines
  • Everyone cutting corners
  • A hero saving the day
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