Magazine article National Defense

Capability Maturity Model Proves Valuable in Weapons System Development, Fielding

Magazine article National Defense

Capability Maturity Model Proves Valuable in Weapons System Development, Fielding

Article excerpt

In the late 1980s, the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), of Carnegie Mellon University, developed and fielded the Software Capability Maturity Model(R) for software process improvement, sponsored by the Defense Department. Over the last decade, this model has been successfully implemented by companies and government organizations worldwide, and tremendous improvements in software cost, schedule and delivered errors have been achieved and documented.

These successes have spawned a number of similar maturity models for other engineering and non-engineering disciplines, such as systems engineering, integrated product and process development, people, and software acquisition. The models have been developed by a number of organizations.

As each new discipline-focused model was implemented, additional benefits were noted due to improvements in that discipline's processes. However, each new model was developed and deployed in a stand-alone "stovepipe" environment.

Further improvements in software engineering are still desirable, since it was widely recognized that up to 80 percent of weaponsystem functionality could be achieved with software.

It has further been recognized that software issues were generally at the root of problems experienced in most major Defense Department development programs.

With the understanding that one persistent problem in software development efforts was a lack of sound systems-engineering principles employed throughout the software development process, the then-director of systems engineering at the office of the secretary of defense, Mark Schaeffer (now deputy director of operations at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) began to focus on the importance of integrating systems engineering and software engineering.

After obtaining technical validation of the concept from Roger Bate, of SEI, Schaeffer identified the need for a concentrated effort to develop a new Capability Maturity Model that integrated systems engineering, software engineering, and integrated product and process development.

In late 1997, he went to the Systems Engineering Committee (SEC) of the National Defense Industrial Association for an industry co-sponsor, since he felt this had to be a collaborative development between Industry and government, with SEI participation.

The resultant product is Capability Maturity Model Integration, or CMMI. The CMMI sponsors are now the deputy undersecretary of defense for science and technology, and the director of interoperability in the office of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition technology and logistics, along with the NDIA SEC.

The CMMI project has directly involved over 100 individuals from defense and commercial industry, Department of Defense and other government agencies, and the SEI, representing over 70 organizations and companies.

The purpose of CMMI is to provide guidance for improving an organization's processes and its ability to manage the development, acquisition and maintenance of products and services. CMMI places proven practices into a structure that helps an organization assess its organizational maturity and process area capability, establish priorities for improvement, and guide the implementation of these improvements.

The CMMI product suite consists of a framework that generates multiple integrated models, training courses, and a combined internal assessment method and external evaluation method, now termed "appraisal." As new material-in the form of additional disciplines-is added to the framework, more integrated models and supporting materials will become available to provide coverage for these additional disciplines.

The first full product suite, designated CMMI-SE/SW/IPPD v1. …

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