Very small organizations (5 – 10 people) present an interesting challenge when implementing the CMMI and ultimately appraising the organization. Typically there is one Project Manager wearing multiple hats, the organization is resource constrained forcing an already heavily committed team to take on additional PPQA and CM roles, and many of the processes are embedded in the team and people are puzzled why they need to document a process that seems obvious. And when they do document their processes to be CMMI compliant they tend to over engineer the processes thereby creating something very cumbersome.
On the other hand, you could argue that there is no difference between implementing the CMMI in a small setting vs. a large organization. Everyone faces similar challenges:
• Management commitment
• Planning for process improvement
• Defining and documenting processes and process assets
• Training people
• Defining, collecting, analyzing, and reporting on product and process measures
• Objectively evaluating adherence
• Preparing for and conducing a SCAMPI A appraisal
Management commitment or lack thereof, is always an obstacle to process improvement. In a large organization the problem is the result of getting multiple management layers in sync. In a small setting we are talking about one person who is an executive, possibly the company President, and the appraisal sponsor. The challenge becomes with one person is that he or she may be in the habit of telling their subordinates to make things happen without taking an active role and then wonder why they are having difficulty. There may also be an unrealistic expectation that implementing Maturity Level 2 is very easy, basically a documentation exercise, and a SCAMPI A can be conducted a month after the first deployment of the new processes and process assets. Because of the small setting, unlike what can happen in a large organization, chances are there is no internal CMMI expert, so the Lead Appraiser is called upon more to help the executive manager to fully understand what it will take to successfully implement the model and what their role should be.
Process improvements need to be managed just like any other project in the organization. If the organization does not have a history of managing their projects well, then they will be further challenged on how to manage their process improvement efforts. Here again in a small setting we may have a management mandate to implement and achieve Maturity Level 2 in three months without anyone attempting to lay out all of the necessary tasks to see if this timeline can be achieved. Naively the organization thinks all they have to do is write six processes, deploy them, and then conduct the appraisal. All of this work is just layered on top of everything else they are currently doing. So process improvement becomes a part time activity, which is usually pushed to the back as other higher priority issues arise.
Small organizations most likely do not have any experience in defining and documenting processes. In a small setting there is a lot of synergy between the teammates and everyone has a good understanding of their roles and responsibilities, aka Tribal Knowledge. Asking them to document their processes and process assets immediately elicits the question, Why? Especially when you explain to them that they have to document how they perform their processes. The "how" is second nature and the practitioners see no value in documenting that information. But if one of the business goals and objectives is to grow and compete for more business, then it is necessary to capture this knowledge.
Typically there are not a lot of opportunities for training in a small organization. And there may be funding constraints that limit the amount of training. So trying to get the organization to focus on identifying training needs (process and technical) is a new concept.
The two Maturity Level 2 Process Areas