Attaining Level 5 in CMM Process Maturity

Abstract

In November 1998 the CSC SEAS Center achieved the rating of CMM Level 5 and became the sixth organization in the world to have ever attained that goal. The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) (Reference 1) is a worldwide recognized benchmark of process maturity for software organizations and is used to assess the quality of an organization’s software process. During the period covered by this study, the SEAS Center comprised approximately 850 personnel supporting systems engineering, software development, and analysis for NASA/GSFC. During the years of continually improving the processes toward the goal of attaining the level 5 rating, detailed information was recorded, tracked and analyzed so that subsequent efforts by other CSC organizations could benefit from the experiences of SEAS. This paper is a direct result of the collection and analysis of that process experience data. This paper begins with a brief overview of the SEAS organization that emphasizes the aggressive process improvement approach that has been in place since 1994. The paper will discuss the coordination of improvement initiatives, the role of goals and industry benchmarks, the organizational strategy and the use of key documents in measuring improvements. Additionally, the investment and benefits of an improvement program are discussed. Finally, based on the SEAS experience, the paper presents seven key factors that are the recommendations for any software organization undertaking an aggressive process improvement program.

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