CMM Value Diminished

There seems to be a never ending discussion about software quality. Depending on who you ask, you'll be told that software developers should be proud of their work or embarrassed by it. Regardless of the side you happen to be on, you'd probably agree that software can be better. Or rather, the way software is written can be improved.

That's where all the methodologies come in. All promise to improve the software development process regardless of how advanced your existing processes are. Surrounding all of these processes is the Capability Maturity Model or CMM for short. The CMM is intended to rank an organization's processes so that, for example, a prospective client can use the information to decide who to hire. Presumably a CMM Level 5 (highest level) company would cost more than a CMM Level 1 so there'd need to be some cost-benefit analysis done.

It all sounds good in theory until it starts to become apparent that companies can buy CMM levels and there isn't much being done to regulate the whole process. Here's the latest article I've come across about the problems with the CMM. And while I'm certain there's some sensationalism thrown in to make for a more interesting read, it's hard to ignore this story from a CMM appraiser:

After a few initial niceties, the executive leaned across the table to Smith and another lead appraiser who had accompanied her to the meeting and asked, "How much for a Level 2?"

"That's when I got up and left the room," Smith recalls. "The other appraiser stayed. And the company got its rating."

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2 Comments

  1. We were recently appraised at a CMM LVL 2. I was a member of the appraisal team. I saw NO (ZERO) foul play of any kind. In fact, our appraiser was completely legit. I don't know where you heard of this corruption, but I can assure you it is no different then the corruptive forces that human nature has on every entity it controls. Period. And, thank you.

  2. Even though SEI says that they are not a governing body, I think it could be a great improvement if CMMI in the future were built up a bit like the ISO 9000 systems.

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