Capability Maturity Model: Reassessment

Our initial capability maturity model assessment in March of 2016 was eye opening. In spite of using an informal and internal assessment method, the assessment results were a little shocking to the system. An 'F' was the final score; we scored an 'F' even though we provided all of the ratings ourselves based on our subjective understanding of organizational operations.

We also discovered that understanding the CMMI model is a lot easier if you can anchor the conversations in a concrete analogy. We chose hotdogs. As we went through each of our focus questions, we compared our operations against a hotdog stand. So, for Requirements Management (REQM), we asked, "if we were a hotdog business, what level would our requirements management process fit?" At level 0, we are not currently making hotdogs (i.e., not doing Requirements Management). At level 1, we can make hotdogs but we do so inconsistently (i.e., we do Requirements Management sometimes but not others). Each area has several focus questions that are very specific.

Another really useful part of this exercise was the impact it had on our strategy moving forward. The CMMI informal assessment made us realize that we were focusing on things in the wrong order. The visual analogy of a pyramid structure helped us realize that we needed to focus more of our efforts on completing the base of the pyramid, things like consistent Service Delivery (SD), before trying to develop a comprehensive Risk Management (RSKM) plan that was higher up.

In January of 2017, we repeated the process. Although we made some progress, we still got an 'F' as a final grade. There are 1,000 reasons why we didn't make more progress, but the reassessment results are actually a good news story. Our more focused efforts strengthened our foundation, and the momentum generated by that focus will be exponential. I expect us to have moved into the 'D' range by summer's end and into the 'C' range within a year. At that time, we may start looking at a formal independent assessment --- one that is a little more objective.

Tons of maturity model information is available at SEI (http://www.sei.cmu.edu/).

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