The previous article in this series provided an overview of the Capability Maturity Model IntegrationSM models (CMMISM). This article will focus on appraising organizational practices using the CMMISM.
There are several possible reasons for performing an appraisal: 1) Identification of improvement opportunities or weaknesses; 2) Evaluation of the performance risk of an organization; 3) "Certification" of a Maturity or Capability Level (i.e., determination of a rating for publicity purposes).
With regard to the latter, it is important to note that there is no official certifying body for the various CMMI appraisals. The strongest statement that should be made is that an appraisal was conducted by a specific team under certain conditions and a given rating was determined.
Beginning process improvement: An organization just beginning process improvement should do some sort of appraisal to determine where their major problems are so they can address the most critical issues first. This can be a fairly simple review of organizational processes relative to the CMMI, done either by the organization itself after study of the reference model, or led by an experienced process improvement professional.
Benchmarking: After an organization has been doing process improvement for a while it may want to verify its progress by doing a formal appraisal. This can result in the determination of a Maturity Level or Process Capability Profile if so desired.
Source selection: An organization considering using a supplier may want to determine the risk that the chosen supplier will not be able to meet its commitments. One way of doing this is by using an appraisal to determine the maturity or capability of the supplier's processes.
Monitoring: An organization may want to understand over time how its process improvement program is progressing. Or if it has selected a supplier, it may want to verify supplier performance.
There is a range of appraisal methods available, ranging from less costly techniques such as a self-appraisal or mini-appraisal to a full-blown SCAMPISM (Standard CMMISM Appraisal Method for Process Improvement). In choosing a method the organization should consider the appraisal objectives and desired outputs, the accuracy of the results, the cost to prepare for and conduct the appraisal, and the anticipated extent of organizational disruption.
The Appraisal Requirements for CMMI, Version 1.1 contain requirements considered essential to appraisal methods intended for use with CMMI models. It defines three classes of appraisal methods: A, B and C. Class A, SCAMPI, is suitable for benchmarking and comparison, while Classes B and C have more limited objectives. Table 1 provides a comparison of the methods.
How does an organization know which appraisal method to use and when? Choosing an appraisal method, like choosing metrics, should be conditioned by the questions you want to answer. Do you want to benchmark current processes (rate at a Level), develop a process improvement program, check on improvement progress, allocate improvement resources or select a subcontractor? Various appraisal methods have significantly different costs, accuracies, and impacts on the organization, as noted in Table 1. Table 2 describes the applicability of various appraisal methods.
What is Involved in Performing an Appraisal?
Any appraisal generally has at least two objectives:
1. Gather accurate data in an efficient, minimally disruptive way.
2. Help to identify and prioritize improvement opportunities or weaknesses.
These objectives can be achieved in a number of different ways, with varying degrees of cost and accuracy as noted above. Sometimes a third objective is appropriate:
3. Signal to the organization that a new way of life is beginni