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How Does CMMI Help You Solve These Problems?

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

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1 The Three Critical Dimensions

What ties everything together? Processes allow you to align people, procedures and methods, and tools and equipment with 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 get leverage from your resources and to examine business trends.

People and technology are important. However, we are living in a world in which technology is changing by an order of magnitude every few years, and 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 be competitive when faced with these ever-present changes.

CMMs (including CMMI) 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 advantage of a process focus is that it complements the emphasis the organization places on both its people and its technology.

  • A well-defined process can provide the means to work smarter, not harder. That means using the experience and training of your work-force effectively. It also means shifting the "blame" for problems from people to processes, making the problems easier to address and solve.
  • An appropriate process roadmap can help your organization use technology to its best advantage. Technology alone does not guarantee its effective use.
  • A disciplined process enables an organization to discover which procedures and methods are most effective and to improve them as results are measured.

CMMI is a suite of products used for process improvement. These products include models, appraisal methods, and training courses.

  • The models are descriptions of best practices that can help you achieve your business goals related to cost, schedule, service levels, quality, and so forth. CMMI best practices describe what to do, but not how to do it or who should do it.
  • The appraisal methods evaluate an organization's processes using a CMMI model as a yardstick. SCAMPI (Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement) is the group of SEI appraisal methods used with CMMI models. SCAMPI uses a formalized appraisal process, involves senior management as a sponsor, focuses the appraisal on the sponsor's business objectives, and observes strict confidentiality and nonattribution of data.
  • Training courses support knowledge about the use of CMMI models and appraisal methods.

The SEI has taken the process management premise that the quality of a product (including service) 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.

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