CMMI Certification Success Story


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This article describes our journey and success story with SEI CMMI. We took an IT Application Development Business and successfully met the requirements of SEI CMMI Level 3.

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CMMI Certification Success Story

  1. 1. ON Features IBM achieves CMMI Level Three certification through hard work and a team effort In a triumph of organisational learning and skills development and what has been described as a competitive-edge-adding- capability, IBM South Africa’s Application Services division achieved SEI CMMI Level Three certification in December 2005. IBM SA now joins many other IBM organisations worldwide to achieve the Software Engineering Institute Capability Maturity Model Integrated Level Three certification. According to the project sponsor, IGS Financial Service Sector executive, Evans Munyuki, the key to this accreditation lay with the Application Services team, who executed the project on tight schedules, despite having to carry out their full-time day jobs in addition to the CMMI workload. “Despite the additional stresses of this project, the team succeeded thanks to a must-win, never-say-die attitude. In this regard, they were ably supported by a leadership team which – aside from myself – included project owner Amil de Moura, affectionately referred to as ‘The Bulldozer’ and project 12 manager Werner Kleinsmith, also known as ‘The Execution Evans Munyuki, IGS Financial Service Sector executive, King’,” says Munyuki. IBM South Africa “It was all about ensuring that everyone had the right roles and responsibilities and in working together to make sure the project kept moving forward, and with Kleinsmith dealing with the conflict situations that occasionally came up due to the workload and de Moura there to help knock out any ‘roadblocks’ we can now confidently take the ‘flame’ forward for Application Services into 2006 and beyond.” Asked to explain what CMMI Level Three certification is all about, de Moura says that it is a model that assigns a maturity level (of which there are a total of five) based on a set of key software practices, each of which is defined by a select number of key process areas (KPAs). “The KPAs are a collection of related practices that establishes a specific type of process capability and it is a cumulative model, meaning that those certified on Level Three must also be compliant with the KPAs at the lower levels,” says de Moura. “For an organisation to be assessed at a particular level, it must have implemented and be executing all KPAs associated with that level. In other words, a high maturity software organisation can be characterised as one that is executing software development practices that are well-documented, repeatable, measured and continuously improving.” De Moura says that there are numerous benefits to IBM’s customers too, as this certification points to improved quality, as predictable processes lead to defects being significantly Africa Magazine / Issue 08 Toll Free Number: 0860 130 130. International: +27 11 302 7202.
  2. 2. ON Features reduced in the productivity stage; improved productivity, as cost savings result from doing things right the first time; increased predictability, as where roles and responsibilities are well defined, outcomes are therefore predictable and process status is measured and controlled; and reduced business risk, as there is less downtime of mission critical applications. “Basically CMMI incorporates the lessons learnt from other areas of best practice – such as project management, risk management and dependency management, and implements more robust, high-maturity practices.” According to Aldon Dickson, IBM SA’s Country Application Services Executive, IBM also benefits in a number of ways. “Firstly, this adds to the arsenal of value we bring to our clients, by adding yet another string to our bow,” he says. “Also it helps to expand both scope and visibility into the product lifecycle and engineering activities, ensuring that IBM Application Services’ products or services meet with customer expectations, while supporting IBM’s growth strategy for the division, as it helps to differentiate us in the market.” Discussing the challenges the team faced in reaching Level Three, Kleinsmith says that the real tricky part was executing what was necessary for the certification on a part- time basis while still fulfilling all the division’s regular customer commitments. “It certainly was a challenge to maintain our customer service level agreements while working on this continuous improvement process, so it called for additional effort from the staff involved and obviously required a bit of juggling of tasks,” he says. “The team was extremely responsive and resilient in this regard and took up the challenge, despite how difficult it seemed at times and not only did they achieve the goal, but 13 we actually saw an increase in customer satisfaction during this period, which I put down purely to the energy levels of this team, which were exceptional.” He claims that another challenge was the concept of change management, whereby it was necessary to get the people in the division to follow these new processes. “There are a total of 16 process areas in governed by this certification, and we had to ensure that everyone - from the junior IT specialists to the most senior players in executive management – had to be trained in every one of these.” Munyuki says that although the lead assessor in the certification process was brought in from Italy, part of the process also included training and certifying a local in-country team of assessors. “This again points to the value we can bring to customers, as we can help them get certified thanks to our assessors, and the key factor here is that we ‘eat our own cooking’, so to speak. We have now done it ourselves, so we practice what we preach.” Speaking about the future for the team, Dickson says that there will be a natural progression at the organisation towards a Level Five certification over the course of the next two years. “We will continue to develop our in-house capabilities, in order to offer this service to our existing customers and the new customers we are winning will also be transformed by this methodology, so we will also be able to take them into this environment with us,” he concludes. Africa Magazine / Issue 08 Web: