CMMI Appraisal and Its Impact on QArea’s Development

Anna Khrupa by Anna Khrupa on November 2, 2018

CMMI Appraisal and Its Impact on QArea’s Development

Diligences Inc. and QArea have announced the CMMI-DEV Capability Maturity Level 3 appraisal of their Product Development Department. We are proud that our work has been evaluated so high. An inspirational result which we have achieved thanks to the collaborative, diligent, and careful efforts of QArea’s team. We are glad that our guys approached this with vigor, becoming the only mid-size software development company with a CMMI-appraised business unit in Ukraine.

In this post, we would like to present you one of the people who played an important role in our success — Alexey Martynov. He is an experienced project manager, business analyst, and CMMI methodology enthusiast.

What was your feeling (and the team’s reaction) to the announcement about going through with our CMMI appraisal? What was your premonition about the work ahead?

Having worked in enterprise companies before, I had a clear understanding that the CMMI framework is appropriate from the perspective of the company’s growth. This is a notable opportunity to control the internal processes within the company. It allows for expansion of various branches within the company, from human resource management to locations, and operating costs. Consequently, our reaction was positive, while the reaction of the team seemed to be a little lost. Initially, they did not quite realize how convenient and useful the framework would be.

What did they fear the most?

They were afraid of a lot of paperwork. However, after it became obvious that the CMMI methodology is not a passive process, but the most suitable path for the company’s organization (which was formed using the basic rules of CMMI to begin with), we achieved stable outcomes. It allowed us to reach a fairly optimal working model within the business unit, optimizing processes on the go. Therefore, the first reaction of the team was not a rejection but a lack of understanding of what CMMI is.

Now, our guys also understand that this brings QArea some marketing advantages as well. We demonstrate that we work in processes optimal framework which helps us in structuring knowledge associated with project maintenance and software development in general. Now, our team is moving on, and we are very serious about getting the 4th and 5th levels of CMMI appraisal.

This is great! Please, tell us more about your plans concerning 4 and 5 levels of CMMI appraisal?

Firstly, we plan to receive level 4 before the end of this year (at least in terms of an internal assessment). Next year, we plan to get level 5. Level 5 means that we have to apply the fundamental rules of the CMMI framework within the entire company, including all our development and testing departments, which then will be constantly improved and optimized. It will allow us to create strategic goals, and at the same time delegate them to the lower management levels. This will be the greatest work in terms of optimization of existing processes, and the future ones.

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Was it difficult to combine preparation for CMMI appraisal with everyday working processes? Perhaps there were some changes in the daily routine, or something else?

Because the team didn’t have a complete understanding of what CMMI appraisal entails, switching was not fast enough at first. Our documentation was tied to perfect expectations, not to the real models that work specifically for our team’s workflows. However, as soon as they caught on to the advantages of the CMMI framework and started applying them to real situations, the switching went much faster.

Now, this did reveal that existing processes needed to be improved and documented. In fact, our guys began to take note of their own work. Nevertheless, if we are talking about the timeframe for its adoption, it took 7 months to move from setting the target to getting appraised at level 3. Moreover, I would like to highlight that this is an outstanding result since we were able to pass CMMI assessment on the first try.

Do you feel that the relationship within the team has changed during the preparation? Have you become more cohesive, or perhaps you had different visions towards the preparation process?

We started out with a team that was already interested in being organized, responsive, and coherent. Everyone wanted to learn something new and grow as a professional—to work towards a common goal beyond the development of a product. In the process of performing complex tasks, they only improved. I am satisfied with the fruitful collaboration with Andrey Osipenko, the team’s Project Manager who was in charge of the project the team is currently working on. Despite his age, he is a very skilled professional, who really tries, and is fully engaged in his work. Consequently, every member of our team understands that we are all in the same boat, and we work towards common goals.

Were there any unforeseen obstacles that influenced the common spirit of the team?

Despite the fact that we were passing this assessment for the first time, we basically didn’t have any risks associated with organizational moments. We invited an approved CMMI consultant to check the company’s level of preparedness and assess the existing situation. After that, we received useful recommendations on how to coordinate our work and improve our processes. Therefore, the only risk we had was not preparing all the necessary documentation and artifacts in time. With input from nearly everyone in the team, this ended up being less of a problem than I expected.

What was the team’s reaction when we successfully got appraised at CMMI-DEV Capability Maturity Level 3? How did you celebrate it?

We realized that the CMMI appraisal process is an invaluable experience for us, and we wanted to celebrate our success in an informal setting. After the CMMI appraisal process we were in very good spirits, so we went to a local restaurant together with our auditor. We are very satisfied that thanks to our close-knit work, we have achieved such a good result. The day after, one of our team members created documentation for the “Success Celebration Process” as a joke.

We are very pleased with this result! However, in your opinion, why is CMMI such a suitable framework for improving the company’s internal processes? How does it affect the company’s successful development?

Basically, there are several frameworks, certifications, and appraisals available to teams like ours. However, everything depends on the business and strategic goals of a company. If the company aims to learn how to balance its efforts and manage processes effectively, sooner or later it will come to a framework which is close to CMMI-Dev. This shows that the company is ready to create a predictable, stable, and powerful result, with the excellent quality of the final product.

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