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CHIPS Articles: Implementing CMMI Compatible Processes Part IV

Implementing CMMI Compatible Processes Part IV
By Richard B. Waina, P.E., Ph.D. - April-June 2004
Previous articles in this series addressed Capability Maturity Model Integration, appraisals and general implementation issues. This article will focus on how to implement specific processes using process action teams.

The first thing to understand is that CMMI Process Areas are not processes. They are sets of related practices grouped together for ease of evaluation. You have to look at your business and technical processes and decide what critical issues you are facing. The CMMI helps you focus on issues that the general community believes merit attention to help the organization mature its processes.

The staged and continuous representations of the CMMI are identical at the detailed goal and practice level, except for the base and advanced practices in the continuous representation. Therefore, implementation of the two versions (for the same components) will be identical. The only question is the order of component implementation. These priorities will be driven by the needs of the organization, which are a function of the business purposes and current problems.

I suggest that the staged representation be used to develop the process improvement strategy, and the continuous representation be used to develop the tactics of process improvement. By this I mean that an organization should, per the staged model, focus on those Level 2 and Level 3 Process Areas that support its business needs. In general, this will enhance the ability of the organization to establish an environment that will enable lasting process improvement. In developing action plans for specific Process Areas, the organization should consider the continuous representation because this will give more detailed guidance for the exact steps that need to be taken to achieve maturity of a given process.

Generic Practice

An organization implementing processes using the CMMI should consider that the generic practices are generally enabled by the base practices of specific Process Areas. This has implications for both the strategy and the tactics of process improvement. To achieve institutionalization of a Process Area you may have to implement some Specific Practices of other Process Areas. For example, when you are achieving the specific goals of the Project Planning process area, you are establishing and maintaining a plan that defines project activities.

One of the generic practices that applies to the Project Planning process area is "Establish and maintain the plan for performing the project planning process." When applied to this process area, this generic practice ensures that you plan the approach you were taking to create the plan for the project. It has similar application to other process areas. Table 1 portrays relationships of Generic Practices to Process Areas.

Think of generic practices as reminders. They serve the purpose of prompting you to do those things that help ensure process stabilization and continuation. The generic goals and practices are expected model components that provide commitment and consistency throughout an organization’s processes and activities. Consistency and commitment result in what is called "institutionalization."

Process Action Teams

Process Action Teams or some variant are generally used to implement processes or process changes. Getting them up to speed quickly is easier with a defined process. Figure 1 illustrates an eight-step life-cycle process to guide process improvement projects. The process is documented in ETVX (Entry, Task, Verification, Exit) format, and has assorted templates and guidelines for each step in the process for both outputs and for reporting status.

The PAT process must be tailored to the requirements of the specific implementation being undertaken. A seven-person PAT addressing requirements management for a medium-size organization used the following resources:

Kick-off - 30 man hours; Requirements Gathering - 75 man hours; Design Process - 140 man hours; Document Preparation - 450 man hours; Review, training and roll out - 1000+ man hours.

Deliverables (for a PAT developing a requirements management (RM) process):

Process Model (ETVX format)
Requirements Management Process Flow (for example)

Process Guide (Rules and Tools)
RM Practice (see PA Activities References) – WHAT
RM Procedures - HOW
RM Templates and Guidelines
RM Policy (what is relationship of Policy to Practice?)
RM Roles and Responsibilities (where located in document set?)

Process Training
RM training material

Process Support
Recommended RM metrics
Recommended RM oversight mechanisms
Recommended RM transition strategies and roll out/implementation plan

Completion Criteria: (1) Documentation for the new process is complete, including a standard process document and other documentation as needed; (2) The processes have been piloted and any needed revisions made; (3) The SEPG (Software Engineering Process Group), Process Management Board (PMB), selected senior management, and other involved groups have approved the procedures; (4) The SEPG and PMB agree the team charter has been met; (5) The new documentation has been entered in the Process Asset Library; (6) The Process Assurance Office has accepted the new/revised process; (7) The PAT team is no longer required for implementation.

Management Tracking and Oversight: (1) Semiweekly progress reports to SEPG, based on project plan and schedule; (2) Weekly reports to project sponsor.

Assumptions, Dependencies and Constraints: (1) Requirements determination is NOT addressed by this PAT; that topic will be the subject of a future PAT; (2) Coordinate with SCM PAT to use common control processes where appropriate; (3) Project estimates need to be based on project requirements; coordinate with Estimation PAT.

Process Action Team Roles

Executive Sponsor Functions: (1) Act as director and coordinator across functional groups within the organization; (2) Keep senior management informed of progress or issues; (3) Facilitate resolution of unresolved issues or implementation problems; (4) Work with senior management to insure implementation is completed and ongoing; (5) Approve charter and select team members with team leader.

Team Leader Functions: (1) Ensure that the team adequately represents all affected groups; (2) Make team assignments for tasks that are required by the transition effort to implement the process change; (3) Coordinate team meetings and ensure the smooth operation of the transition team (all those who have responsibility for implementing the change); (4) Ensure all action items and issues are closed in a timely fashion; (5) Conduct presentations for senior and mid-level management and the SEPG; (6) Communicate progress and results to the organization; (7) Manage the development of documented procedures and processes for the transition effort; (8) Manage the implementation and roll out of the transition team procedures.

Team Member Functions: (1) Develop solutions for problems and support the mandate for change that will result from this transition effort; (2) Regularly update their respective organizations and senior management regarding transition efforts and solicit their feedback; (3) Present the feedback from their organizations on a weekly basis to the transition team; (4) Fully participate in the design and development of the procedures by reviewing documents, writing documents (if necessary), and participating in walk-throughs of the procedures; (5) Attend all meetings (see PAT meeting schedule); (6) Provide constructive feedback to the Team Leader or Facilitator; (7) Formally present the updated processes and the impact to their organizations; (8) Provide a pilot project from their functional area to participate in the initial roll out, if necessary; (9) Support the procedures by fully implementing the procedures in their respective areas when the roll out has begun.

Facilitator functions: (1) Assist the Team Leader by providing expertise on the methodology for process improvement; (2) Facilitate discussions that lead to solutions; (3) Ensure that appropriate actions are taking place such as capturing of action items and issues; (4) Recognize inadequate participation or sponsorship of transition team members and take action to resolve such issues; (5) Ensure that the procedures that are captured, are agreed to by all team members.

Other Roles: (1) Subject Matter Experts – brought in at any time; (2) Recorders – possibly use team members on round-robin basis or have one permanent.

Team/Resources: (1) Team members are selected by the Executive Sponsor in collaboration with senior management and the Team Leader; (2) The Team Leader and Facilitator agree to team composition; (3) Members are credible and high enough in organization to make changes happen; (4) Resources supplied by participating team members, including people and equipment, as needed.

Transition Strategies address key issues to be dealt with throughout the entire change process:

Team Structure – Establish the team and its structure to plan, implement and sustain the change: sponsor, leadership team, change team, change coach and transition team. (Who is responsible for ensuring that the change is implemented?)

Leadership – Establish the sponsorship development activity and learning organization environment for achieving and sustaining the desired change. (What are the responsibilities of the leadership in making this happen?)

Education and Training – Establish the education and training to provide stakeholders the knowledge and skills of methods, tools and processes integral to the change initiative. (What education and training (above and beyond training on the specific process) are necessary to make the change acceptable and make it happen?)

Measures – Establish the business value, process and readiness measures that should be tracked and monitored to enable learning and measure progress, as well as results. (What measures will indicate the value and results of the change?)

Business and Technology Integration – Determine the desired changes in business performance and integrate the technology-driven changes that will support it, such as systems life cycle, project management or new tools. (What changes are required in related processes and technologies?)

Performance Management – Identify the desired behaviors and performance results for the change; establish the reinforcement mechanisms for each behavior (positive and negative) to institutionalize the change. (What is required to motivate people to adopt the change?)

Relationship Management – Determine how the change will impact your customer or supplier and establish a win-win business relationship for working together. (What changes are required in relationships with customers and business partners?)

Communications – Establish communications for the change within all levels of the organization. (How will all this be communicated throughout the organization?)


This series of articles has described the CMMI models, appraisal methods and issues involved in implementing the CMMI and transitioning from the Software CMM to the CMMI. Successful implementation of an organization's technical and business practices using the CMMI for guidance requires in-depth understanding of the organization's goals, objectives and requirements, and the underlying principles of the CMMI model.

Richard B. Waina, P.E., Principal of Multi-Dimensional Maturity, has over 35 years of IT experience. He worked for five years at White Sands Missile Range, and on a number of missile programs at Hughes Aircraft Company, including Maverick for the U.S. Air Force, Phoenix for the Navy and TOW for the Army. At EDS he was responsible for deploying process maturity assessment methodologies globally. Dr. Waina is a SEI-authorized CMM and CMMI Lead Assessor/Appraiser and Instructor for the Introduction to CMMI. He has conducted over 80 CMM/CMMI assessments in nine countries since 1990. He holds engineering degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, New Mexico State University and Arizona State University. His Web site is

Table 1: Generic Practices and Related Process Areas
Table 1: Generic Practices and Related Process Areas

PAT Process Phases
PAT Process Phases

Figure 1.  The Eight-Step Life Cycle Process to guide process improvement projects.
Figure 1. The Eight-Step Life Cycle Process to guide process improvement projects.

Technical Tasks (Example for Requirements Management PAT)
Technical Tasks (Example for Requirements Management PAT)
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