Committed to continuous improvement and closing the capability gap, one of the programs at MERA has been appraised at level 3 of the CMMI Institute’s Capability Maturity Model Integration. We spoke to Alexei Pavlovsky, Quality Director at MERA, to find out how relevant this rating is for software development companies.
— Good morning! To begin with, what is CMMI and is it a must for software services providers to be awarded CMMI rating along with other prominent software development standards?
Alexei Pavlovsky (A.P.): Good morning! First of all, CMMI is habitually likened with such world-recognized certificates as the ISO 9001:2015, which is the Quality Management standard, or ISO 27001:2013, the Information Security standard. In reality, it is not a standard, but a model. While standards stipulate requirements, the Capability Maturity Model Integration features a set of goals and practices that might be implemented by the organization. In other words, CMMI is an improvement framework that provides organizations with the essential elements of the effective processes that ultimately improve their performance. As for its customer appeal, I believe being awarded a CMMI rating gives the vendor a competitive edge, especially since it is required by many United States Department of Defense and U.S. Government contracts in software development. For MERA, the CMMI appraisal is another way of proving to the customers that we are capable business partners and suppliers.
— Thank you for clearing that up. When did the first CMMI appraisal take place at MERA?
A.P.: In 2018, MERA received CMMI rating for the fourth time. The first appraisal took place back in 2009 at the initiative of one of our customers who wanted to know how well our processes compare to CMMI maturity level 2 best practices. Seeking continuous improvement, MERA’s executive team decided to raise the maturity level and undergo an official appraisal. So, we can say that we went beyond our call of duty.
— What unit underwent the CMMI appraisal? What processes were examined?
A.P.: The appraisal took place at one of MERA’s largest projects for a Telecom customer. Usually, prior to the assessment, the organization sets out tasks based on the maturity level they want to achieve, thus outlining a set of processes for the examination. Maturity level 3 covers practices from the following process areas:
- CM - Configuration Management
- MA - Measurement and Analysis
- PMC - Project Monitoring and Control
- PP - Project Planning
- PPQA - Process and Product Quality Assurance
- REQM - Requirements Management
- DAR - Decision Analysis and Resolution
- IPM - Integrated Project Management
- OPD - Organizational Process Definition
- OPF - Organizational Process Focus
- OT - Organizational Training
- PI - Product Integration
- RD - Requirements Development
- RSKM - Risk Management
- TS - Technical Solution
- VAL - Validation
- VER - Verification
— What does maturity level 3 mean? How many levels are there and how are they different from each other?
A.P.: In total, there are five maturity levels: Initial, Managed, Defined, Quantitatively Managed and Optimizing. To put it bluntly, each level includes the practices of the preceding level plus a bunch of additional practices.
— It has been said that CMMI is not compatible with Agile. Is it true?
A.P.: I’ve heard people say that and, probably, as a way to destroy this presumption, the CMMI Institute issued a Guide to Scrum and CMMI of over 100 pages describing how to improve performance in Agile projects with the help of CMMI practices. Besides, the MERA project that underwent the CMMI appraisal in 2018 actively uses Agile/SCRUM methodologies.
— And how do you find the following statement: maturity level 3 (ML3) is not as adjustable as the others?
A.P.: I see how this statement originated: while level 2 requires a brief description of what is to be done without describing the process itself, level 3 calls for documented standard processes. It means that it is enough for maturity level 3 to describe adaptation and tailoring guidelines as advised by CMMI model itself to achieve required level of flexibility. Approved exceptions to the processes are also possible.
— What was the appraisal like at MERA this year?
A.P.: We gathered a dream team of seven people headed by the Lead Appraiser Alexander Kondakov, an expert in the field of CMMI model integration in Russia and an official partner of the CMMI Institute. During eight business days, the team conducted interviews with the participants of the processes, examined 338 practices of the model and checked more than 800 artifacts. As a result, we obtained Final Findings that include the processes status, our strengths and weaknesses as well as a list of recommendations. All in all, it was fun!
— Alexei, nice talking to you! Seems that MERA’s customers are in good hands!