Reaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments

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This paper describes how to apply the CMMI in a business-focused way, by doing frequent small assessments. Goals are input to the assessments, and a matrix is used to assure both organisation and process area coverage. The results of assessments integrate smoothly with operational targets of existing groups within the organisation.

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Reaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments

  1. 1. Reaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments, by Ben LindersEricsson EuroLab Netherlands (ELN) is a company within Ericsson, the worlds leading supplierin telecommunications. They have facilities in the south (Rijen) and in the east (Enschede, andEmmen). In total about 1100 employees are working for this company, almost all are directlyinvolved in software and hardware development. The scope of this article is about the design unitin Rijen, and in particular about the Charging Competence Centre department. This departmentemploys about 160 persons, developing charging systems for telephone exchanges. Thetechnology is UNIX and NT based systems, using UML based Object Oriented development withC++ and JAVA, deploying mostly Rational toolsThis paper describes how to apply the CMMI in a business-focused way, by doing frequent smallassessments. Goals are input to the assessments, and a matrix is used to assure both organisationand process area coverage. The results of assessments integrate smoothly with operational targetsof existing groups within the organisation.Practical tools support the frequent assessments, and experience with the CMMI is used tooptimize the assessment and improvement cycle, resulting in continuously improving theperformance of the organisation based on its goals.1 History: CMM as a rating modelCMM assessments have been done for quite some years within Ericsson. This paragraphdescribes the history, a more detailed description can be found in a separate paper on this subject[ref 1].Ericsson was one of the early adopters of the CMM model. The process focus, and the concept ofmeasurement based improvement were the unique selling points why the model was chosen. Thefirst assessment, back in 1994, showed Ericsson Rijen was on level 1, which was no surprise. Animprovement program was initiated, which established a process support organisation that rolledout all level 2 processes in the projects. The next assessment in 1995 showed that the Researchand Development Unit of Ericsson Rijen was on level 3, the first company within Ericssonworldwide.Reaching level 3 was a big reward for the organisation. As a result, the focus changed, andoperational goals such as meeting deadlines, combined with many vacancies demanded their toll.Projects became less focused on processes and measurements. Since the process supportorganisation remained, as did the culture to improve in most of the departments, the projects stillmanaged to live up to the expectations. But things didn’t always go that smoothly…One department in Ericsson Rijen, the Charging Competence Centre, kept on believing in theCMM and its usefulness. It started their own program to come to level 4, by definingmeasurements and applying them in their projects [ref 2]. In June 1998, they made their firstpreparations towards a new assessment. Bill Curtis, associated with the Software EngineeringInstitute, stated that the Unix development department could be "among the world elite in oneyear". Finally, the department was re-assessed in November 1998, where it was found to be aprofessional "solid as a rock" level 3 organization, with parts of level 4 institutionalised.Reaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments, Ben Linders Page 1 of 12
  2. 2. Having worked for quite some years on process improvements, and not getting the reward ofbeing fully at level 4, came somewhat as a disappointment to this department. And it alsoconfused them, as they didn’t just implement the practices of the CMM model. The approach hadbeen from the goals and concepts of the model, implemented it in such a way that it made senseto do it. Though no process areas were excluded, not all practices were implemented. For somethere were alternative solutions. But most of all they were confused because in their opinion theimprovement programs had delivered results, being an organisation able to perform projects in acontrolled way, and capable of improving where business goals required it.As a next step, the department didn’t start a new improvement program to fill the gaps found inthe assessment. Instead, the approach focussing on business goals and selecting improvementsthat contribute to them was continued, regardless of CMM levels involved. This focus on CMMmatched perfectly with operational goals set by the department, in the sense that CMM wouldcontribute directly to the business.Along with this focus, the assessment approach had to change also. Full assessments were nolonger useful, instead there was a need for small focused assessments which would come up withdetailed findings. These assessments should be an instrument to be used next to audits andimprovement sessions in projects.2 Approach: Business Focused CMMI AssessmentsA new assessment method has been defined: Business-focused CMMI assessments. Such anassessment is a class C type assessment [ref 3], where the main purpose is to find strengths andweaknesses. The assessment consists of the following steps:• Assign Orderer and Customer• Select Goals• Define Organizational Scope• Determine Process Areas• Organise Assessment Team• Plan Assessment• Perform Assessment• Support ImprovementsThe purpose of the first six steps is to make an assessment proposal. This document fully definesthe assessment, and after approval it is used to perform the assessment and support theimprovements. The steps will be discussed in detail in the following paragraphs.2.1 Assign Orderer and CustomerThe first step is to define the interface between the assessment and the organisation. Thisinterface consists of two persons: An orderer and a customer. They will play an essential role.The orderer has to be a member of the highest management of the organisation. The orderer isresponsible for one or more goals that will selected for this assessment, for that reason (s)he isparticularly interested that a good assessment will be done. Also, this person arranges funding forthe assessment, including hours of the interviewees. It is also the person who has endReaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments, Ben Linders Page 2 of 12
  3. 3. The customer is the person who needs the result from the assessment: The findings. This personis responsible for implementing improvement actions. It can be the same person as the orderer. Itmust be clear, before the assessment is started, that the customer is able to take over the results ofthe assessment, and arrange the improvement actions. If there is no room in the organisation toimprove, then there is no need to assess either.Both the orderer and customer must be clearly stated in the assessment proposal. They will alsoattend kick-off and final meeting, where they personally show their stakes in this assessment andwhat they require the assessment to deliver.2.2 Select GoalsFor every assessment, there must be a business reason to do it. This reason has to do with one ormore goals of the organisation, or with strategies performed to reach the goal(s). This step resultsin a list of goals and strategies that have to be assessed.For instance, an organisation can have the goal: “All projects must be finished on the planned enddate”. To reach this goal, there are strategies such as improvement programs for project planning,and lead-time improvement. When it is uncertain if the strategies will assure that the goal will bemet within the defined time frame (usually one or more calendar years), then an assessment isuseful to investigate it.Goal setting is a complex, but vital activity. This assessment approach requires that the goals areclear, but sometimes it turns out that when discussing them, additional clarification is needed.Also priorities between goals are not always sufficiently defined. It is of the utmost importancethat there are no more uncertainties about the goals before the assessment planning is started.An assessment focuses on a subset of the goals, in order to come with findings specifically relatedto reaching those goals. Assessing against all goals of an organisation results in too manyfindings, where priorities will have to be set after an assessment. In such a case, findings will bethrown away and valuable assessment time has been wasted. More important: An expectation wasgiven that the problems would be solved. Not living up to this expectation can seriously hamperfuture assessments and improvement programs.The experience is that assessments at the Charging Competence Centre have been focussing on 1to 2 main goals. Further on in this paper it will become clear how it was assured that all the goalswere covered by assessments over time.2.3 Define Organizational scopeThe result of the previous step is a list of goals and strategies. In this step the part of theorganisation involved in reaching these goals or performing the strategies must be identified. Theresult will be a list of groups and roles/functions, which have to be interviewed.Reaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments, Ben Linders Page 3 of 12
  4. 4. A goal is assigned to a responsible person or group in the organisation. Also, other persons andgroups are performing work that relates to the goal. The boundary of the assessment must bedefined such that it includes the right parts of the organisation, nothing more, and nothing less.A misunderstanding is that in an assessment, every group of the organisation has to berepresented. This should not be the case. If groups are not involved in activities related to thegoals to be assessed, then there is no need to interview them. Any findings from this group wouldbe put aside and considered irrelevant, because they do not endanger the goal. So why waste theirtime, and yours?So the scope includes only groups giving input to the work, performing the work, and requiringoutput from the work, where the work is that part of all work done in the department that isrequired to reach the goal or perform the strategy.2.4 Determine Process AreasNow that the scope of the assessment is defined from the organisation’s perspective, let’s look atthe scope from the model’s perspective. That is, given the organisational scope there is usuallyneed to assess only a selected set of process areas from the CMMI model.Looking at the same example that the organisational goal to investigate is lead-time precision,and the groups involved would be two product development teams running projects, and a staffgroup on configuration management. It was decided in the organisational scope step that theassessment should only interview the project management staff, and not the engineers. In thatcase, it would be useful to select process areas mainly from the project management cluster, andadditionally add configuration management from the support cluster. There is no need to assessprocess areas from engineering or process management clusters, since no activities from theseprocess areas are performed within the organisational boundaries of the assessment. Again thisprevents coming up with findings which are not goal related.Some experience from the Charging Competence Centre department: In the assessments done in2000 and 2001, the number of process areas varied a lot. There were assessments with only 1(Decision Analysis and Resolution) or 2 (Requirements Management/development) process areas,but there have also been assessments with 7 areas. The latter is about the maximum, when itbecomes more then one should return to the first step and try to reduce the number of goalsinvolved. There has been no assessment covering all process areas on a specific level.The result of this step is a list of process areas that will be assessed. With this step, the total scopeof the assessment is defined.2.5 Organise Assessment TeamUntil now, there has only been an Assessment Team Leader. This person has done all previoussteps, together with persons from the line organisation. Now the team can be assembled, so thatthey can take the next steps together.A team consists of a team leader, and 1 to 2 assessors. The minimum relates to the fact that it isessential to have at least two views on the findings. At any time an assessor can discusspreliminary findings, and do a peer review before presenting them to the interviewees. TheReaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments, Ben Linders Page 4 of 12
  5. 5. maximum relates to the number of process areas and communication; adding more people (unlessthey are expert in a certain area) doesn’t improve the quality nor the time needed.In an assessment team there has to be at least 1 member from the assessed organisation. The roleof this “local” member is to assure that the right people are interviewed, and that potentialfindings within the goals are derived, which are formulated using terminology known and usedwithin the organisation. This helps coping with the so-called “CMMI speak problem”, where anorganisation doesn’t understand the questions and cannot use the findings, because of terms usedfrom the CMMI model that they do not understand.Assessment team members must have excellent communication skills, have knowledge both inthe way an assessment is conducted and in the process areas being assessed, and must havesufficient time available within the time frame. The latter is very important, as an assessment hasa fixed time schedule from start to finish. You cannot postpone a consensus or a final meeting ifyou run out of time, re-planning meetings with all the people involved will almost always meanthat an assessment slips, and then loses the momentum in the organisation.Roughly the time needed in an assessment is 40-60 hours for a team leader, and 20-40 hours foran assessor. This depends of course on experience, and on the scope of the assessment.2.6 Plan AssessmentThe next step now that the part of the organisation to be interviewed and the process areas aredefined, is that the assessment team makes a detailed plan of the assessment. This plan includes:• Select Interviewees• Define Timeplan2.6.1 Select IntervieweesThe interviewees have to be selected within the defined organisation scope (groups androles/functions) defined earlier. The purpose of selecting interviewees is assuring that everyprocess area is sufficiently covered. That is, the group of people interviewed should containsufficient persons that perform the activities of the process areas from several angles.Not only persons doing the work should be interviewed, but also persons ordering (and beingresponsible for) the work, and persons depending on the outcome of the work, should beinterviewed. This can be compared to a 360-degree appraisal, where a person’s boss, customersand people below him/her have to give input on the performance.Given the previous example (lead-time in project management teams and configurationmanagement staff, with process areas from project management and configuration management)the following roles could be interviewed:• Project managers Performing project management activities• Team leaders Idem, but for the design teams• Configuration managers Performing configuration management activities• Product managers Customers of a project• Members from maintenance Taking over work and products from a projectReaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments, Ben Linders Page 5 of 12
  6. 6. In each role there should be sufficient people interviewed, usually that is 2-4 persons. Thisdepends on how far the activity is performed in a uniform way by different people or groups,variance in experience and competence levels, different customers with unique expectations, etc.When in doubt it is usually better to include an additional person initially, it is easier to excludethat person later on when it appears that (s)he is not needed than to add an additional person whencoverage is not enough. On the other hand, some persons might perform several roles.Again some experience from the Charging Competence Centre: Assessments done until now haveinterviewed a minimum of 7 persons, and a maximum of 19. If the number becomes too big, thenreconsider the goals, organisational groups, or number of process areas involved. It may be usefulto split up an assessment, in order to have more insight into specific goals, groups or processareas.2.6.2 Define TimeplanFor performing the assessment, several meetings have to be planned and deadlines have to be set.More information about the meetings can be found in step “perform assessment”, in this step onlythe people attending the meeting and the timeline is defined. Please note that all meetings areplanned in advance, and that deadlines are fixed in an assessment.The kick off meeting is attended by everybody involved in the assessment, so the interviewees,orderer, customer, and the assessment team.The overview presentation is optional, and open to anybody interested in an explanation of theprocess area. It can also include people from outside the assessment.A deadline must be set for submittal of the questionnaires. On this date, all interviewees musthave returned their questionnaire, and it must be checked for completeness and any unclearness.The consensus meeting is only for the interviewees and the assessment team, others are notallowed due to confidentiality reasons.The final meeting is meant for everybody in the assessment. However, if the orderer doesn’tobject, then others may join the meeting to hear the results of the assessment at first hand. Pleasenote that the purpose is to communicate strengths and weaknesses in order to improve, and not tojudge.At Ericsson we have experimented during the years with the time plan for this kind ofassessment. The scheme below has appeared to be most effective, both in coping withorganisational pressure and keeping people mentally involved in the assessment. Week T – 4 weeks: First proposal for the assessment Week T – 2 weeks: Final proposal, and all further dates and interviewees fixed Week T: Kick off and distribution of assessment questionnaires Week T + 1 week: Overview presentation of the process areas Week T + 2 weeks: Deadline for having the questionnaires returned Week T + 3 ½ weeks: Consensus meeting Week T + 4 weeks: Final presentationReaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments, Ben Linders Page 6 of 12
  7. 7. This schedule gives two weeks for the interviewee to answer all the questions, and 1 ½ week forthe assessment team to come up with findings. If planned in advance, and sufficient commitmentfrom the organisation is available, this has proved to be feasible.2.7 Perform AssessmentAn assessment starts with a kick off meeting. In this meeting the assessment is presented to theinterviewees; after this meeting they should know what they could expect from the assessmentand what will be their role.In the kick off meeting, both the orderer and the customer should be present. They should tell theaudience why they want the assessment, and what kind of results they expect. Also they shouldask the interviewees to be open and honest, and that they will value all input and accept theresults from the assessment. The assessment team leader must assure confidentiality and nonattribution, that is that the results sent in by the interviewees will only be known to the assessmentteam, and that finding will be stated in such a way that they cannot be attributed to individuals orprojects.After the kick off, questionnaires will be sent out to the interviewees to collect information. Thequestionnaires are based on the goals and activities of the CMMI model. To enable them to fill inthese questionnaires, it is good to organise an overview presentation of the process areas so thatthey can better understand the goals and activities of the model. This presentation is notmandatory, but highly recommended. Note that we deliberately do not use interview sessions,instead we use consensus meetings.Defining findings is a creative, and very difficult and complex part of an assessment. It is done bygoing through ratings and comments from the interviewee, and look for common opinions,contradictions, patterns, etc. Drivers for the findings are of course the goals and strategies that arebeing investigated. Competence in the process areas that are investigated is essential. It is alsoimportant to know the roles that people perform, and sometimes also their background, favoriteissues, frustrations, etc. The result will be an overview of strengths, weaknesses, and open issues(things which are not yet clear) per process area.As a next step a consensus meeting is held. In this meeting the preliminary findings are presented,and feedback is sought to verify if these findings are correct, complete, and accepted by theorganisation. As a rule, every interviewee has to be in the consensus meeting; for those whocannot attend a private meeting has to be arranged to go through the findings. You cannot riskcoming up with findings, which are not accepted by any of the interviewees, and thus will beconsidered questionable after the assessment. Also, since the assessment is not actively searchingfor evidence, but focuses on opinions of the organisation, it is essential that the consensusmeeting results in a common view of the main strengths and weaknesses of the organisation.At the end of an assessment, a final presentation is given. For all process areas the strengths andweaknesses are presented. In this meeting, the orderer and the customer of the assessment mustbe present to officially accept the results and reconfirm the organisations commitment to dowhatever is needed to solve the findings. In this meeting, the interviewees are thanked for theircontribution. This final meeting is attended by all the interviewees, the orderer and customer. Butit is also good to invite others for which the results can be useful information. Basically, thismeeting is used to buy in to the organisation for the needed improvements.Reaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments, Ben Linders Page 7 of 12
  8. 8. 2.8 Support ImprovementsIn most assessment methods, the assessment is finished after the final meeting, and the finalreport. However in this method it is required that the results of the assessment are represented tothe customer, in order to define actions.For that purpose, a meeting is planned with the assessment team and the customer. Others, whocan assist in defining or execute improvements, are also invited to the meeting. Together they gothrough the findings, and define the needed improvement actions. Most actions should be withintheir scope of control, for actions outside a member of the meeting will have to assure properhandover to a responsible.Please note that actions are not only defined for weaknesses, but also for strengths. Anorganisation that only works on improving weaknesses will never be more then average whencompared to other organisations. In order to succeed reaching business goals, an organisationshould also have strengths in which it differentiates with others.The resulting actions of the meeting will have to be assigned to either line or project bodies. Theassessment team will not do follow up on the actions, but they will remain available if there arefurther issues regarding the findings. In some occasions, a member of the assessment team did afollow presentation on the findings some months after the assessment, to check the effect of theactions. This can be useful, on the one hand it is a good check if and how things are progressing,and on the other hand it is a measurement to check whether the findings and the defined actionsare still considered useful.When a substantial part of the actions has been done, it will be good to re-assess the organisationin order to verify if the improvements have been successful. For that purpose a new assessmentcan be defined, repeating the process as has been described in these 8 steps. Given the fact thatthere are frequent assessments, a new assessment reuses results from a previous assessment, likepresentations, tools, etc. More detail on this will be given in the next chapter.3 Implementation: ToolsNo method is complete without tools to support it efficiently. For this assessment method, sometools have been developed that supported the roll out and acceptance of findings, and have turnedit into an efficient way of improving the organisation.The term tools is used in a broad sense. What is meant is a combination of templates, checklists,etc. The following tools are used:• Assessment matrix• Questionnaires• Integrated organisationEach tool will be explained in more detail. It is important however that a tool never exists on itsown, it is based on a method. On one hand this implies that when an organisation has differentassessment methods, the tools may not be useful. On the other hand, there may be other, moreuseful tools for an organisation even when the same method is used. Be sure that the first focus ison the method, and then on the tools, not visa versa.Reaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments, Ben Linders Page 8 of 12
  9. 9. 3.1 Assessment matrixIn an organisation that is continuously improving, there will be frequent assessments focussing ondifferent goals, process areas, and groups within the organisation. The assessment matrixprovides an overview of all assessments done and planned. The main purpose is strategicalplanning of assessments, and assuring that over time everything considered important enough isassessed. CMM-I Assessment matrix ELN/V Q2/2001 Product Area XXX YYY ZZZ Process Area Project Management Project Planning Project Monitoring and Control Q4 2000 No Integrated Project Management Risk Management Q1 2000 No Quantitative Project Management Q1 2001 Support Configuration Management Q4 2000 No Causal Analyses and Resolution Q4 2000 Q3 2001As you can see in the matrix, the two axes represent the organisational groups and the processareas. A combination of the two is covered in an assessment, which is based on one of moreorganisational goals. Each cell states when the last assessment has been done, or when a nextassessment is planned. It is also possible to state that certain combinations will not be assessed.So this matrix provides an overview of all executed and planned assessment.There are some basic rules that are used at the Charging Competence Centre. Process Areas andgroups that are considered most vital for the organisation are assessed twice a year (like “projectmanagement” and “engineering”). Other groups directly contributing to the goals will be assessedat least once every year (like “process management”). Staff units indirectly contributing may beassessed less frequently.Another rule is that every assessment has a main purpose. You either want to assess mainly toexplore, i.e. to provide insight and come up with initial findings. Or the main purpose is to verify,so to confirm that improvement actions have resulted in effectively reaching the goals. If youalready know what is wrong, and haven’t achieved sufficient improvement yet, then there is noneed to do a new assessment.The assessment matrix has proved to be a valuable tool in assessment planning together with themanagement of our organisation. One of the main benefits has been that the matrix helped us tolimit the number of assessments, and assure that an assessment will have a specific focus, whilestill knowing that in the long run nothing will be overlooked.Reaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments, Ben Linders Page 9 of 12
  10. 10. 3.2 QuestionnairesEricsson has a long experience with questionnaires with light and class C assessments. Initiallychecklists and question forms have been used based on Word. The advantage was that they werevery flexible, on the other hand collecting the questionnaires and arranging them in a way tocome up with findings took a lot of effort.As one of the first pilots of the CMMI model, Ericsson did an official pilot of the SEIquestionnaire tool in the 4th quarter of 2000. The tool has proved to be valuable, both for theinterviewees and for the assessment team. Major advantage was the automated generation ofquestionnaires based on the model, and the collection of questionnaires into combined sheets tobe used for definition of findings. Since it uses the SEI Word file of the CMMI model, upgradingto newer versions of the model should be fairly easy. The major drawbacks were that the tool wassomewhat inflexible towards changes during the assessment, such as interviewees who arereplaced or withdrawn from the assessment, or who cannot make the deadline.A project was done, together with the School for Information Technology in Breda (HIO) todevelop a prototype of a new questionnaire tool. The main requirements were that it shouldsupport interviewees when filling in questions, by giving additional information and support, andthat it should help an assessment team in organizing an assessment. The latter is done by have aset of questionnaires defined, which can be reused in multiple assessments. Also a trackingsystem is defined, which shows which assessment sheets have been returned, and who has to bereminded of their “duties”. A pilot is planned in Q2 2001, the results are not known yet.Conclusion: There is no uniform questionnaire yet, because different questionnaires all have theiradvantages and disadvantages. A strive is towards a more uniform approach, based on previousexperiences.3.3 Integrated organisationThough one can argue whether an organisation and its structure can be considered a tool, it hasbeen very important that the right organisation was available that supported this assessment andimprovement approach.One main concept within the Charging Competence Centre organisation is that many groups havea double responsibility. They both have to perform operational work, which is development ofproducts, and they also have to assure that improvements, which are needed for reaching businessgoals, are executed.To give an example: There is a group called the project office. This groups consists of projectmanagers, software process engineers, and project administrators. Their first responsibility is torun high quality and controllable projects in the organisation, and directly following is theresponsibility to improve the way projects are run.Why is that so important? The main reason is that this same combination of roles comes back inthe assessment method. As interviewees, they must give input on how projects are performed. Butstarting in the consensus meeting, the other responsibility becomes important and they startthinking about improvements needed. At the final meeting they will have some initial thought onwhat is needed. When the findings are discussed in detail after the assessment, they will come upReaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments, Ben Linders Page 10 of 12
  11. 11. with improvement actions, which they mostly will do themselves. So this learning organisationfully integrates the assessments method as one of theirs feedback loops for improvement. Another advantage is that these kinds of teams drive the assessments. They are the customers,and they will be involved in selecting the goals, defining organisation scope and process areas,and defining improvement actions. By being involved in all stages of an assessment, they greatlyimprove the efficiency and the effectiveness of an assessment, including the acceptance offindings and commitment to take any action that is needed.4 Experiences with the assessment methodThe assessment method came to exist during the assessments in Q1 of 2000. Willing to do anassessment which was not level based, but functionally oriented, so-called sub assessments weredone for the first time. This was still using the CMM V2.0. Draft C, but taking concepts from theCMMI V0.2. The success of these assessments led to an initial definition of the new assessmentmethod.In August after the CMMI model was released, Ericsson decided to move towards the CMMIcontinuous model. Based on that, pilot assessments were defined for all assessment classes withinEricsson. The Charging Competence Centre has done an official pilot of CMMI class Cassessments. After discussing and analysing the business goals and performance, 4 assessmentswere defined. Each one had its own focus, process areas, and groups within the organisation thatwill be assessed. For instance, there was one assessment focussing on the project office, includingmainly project management process areas but also including organisational training and somesupport process areas considered vital for project management. Another assessment includes onlyone process area and group: Decision analyses and resolution in the management team of thedepartment.Based on the results, an assessment plan has been made for 2001. The plan has defined 6business-focused assessments, to be done throughout the year. At the time of the article, twoassessments were finished, and a third one was ongoing. This clearly shows the commitment ofthe organisation to improve, and to use business focused CMMI assessments as the approach todo this.The assessment method has recently been evaluated. The advantages are:• Very time effective (assessment time of roughly 180 hours total)• Quick follow up after the assessment (within 1-2 weeks)• Good follow up, most findings directly lead to actions (at least 50-70%)Disadvantages are:• Much overlap in the CMMI, making it sometimes difficult to focus• Extracting findings is very difficult to learn (learning by doing)Given these results, the decision is to continue this assessment method. Improvements which areconsidered are removing some of the “sales talk” from assessments, since most people now arefamiliar with the CMMI, and put more focus on overview meetings and presentations about thecontents of the process areas and thus improve understanding of the model.Reaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments, Ben Linders Page 11 of 12
  12. 12. 5 ConclusionsThe business-focused assessment method has shown to be very worthwhile. Key success factorsare that assessment are easy to conduct, have a short lead time, and that the findings lead toactions considered vital for reaching business goals.Currently the method is being rolled out to other departments. Further on it will be fine-tuned tofit even better in the performance management program at Ericsson, which defines goal andmeasurement based improvement of the performance of organisations. Combined withimprovements in the questionnaire, the result is a solid tool useful for continuously improving theperformance of the organisation.About the authorBen Linders has been working in process improvement using CMM based models from 1992onwards. At Philips he participated in CMM improvement programs for Industrial Electronics,and for Audio. At Ericsson he was a member of the improvement team that worked for the CMMlevel 3 assessment in 1995, and the level 4 assessment in 1998. Currently he is working on theCMMI and Performance Management programs with Ericsson EuroLab Netherlands. He is amember of several (national and international) CMM and SPI based improvement networks. Hecan be reached by email: Ben.Linders@eln.ericsson.se.ReferencesRef 1: From Staged CMM to Continuous CMMI (and back).Paper by Ben Linders, in SPIder koerier januari 2001.http://www.st-spider.nlRef 2: Institutionalising change, Application of CMM as a model for organisational change atEricsson. Paper and presentation by Bart ter Horst, presented at the IEEE EMC’99 conference.http://ewh.ieee.org/soc/ems/confs.htmlRef 3: ARC, Assessment Requirements for CMMI, Version 1.0.Software Engineering Institute.http://www.sei.cmu.edu/cmmi/products/assess.htmlRef 4: CMMI ModelsSoftware Engineering Institute.http://www.sei.cmu.edu/cmmi/products/models.htmlReaching Business Goals with Value Adding CMMI Assessments, Ben Linders Page 12 of 12

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