DOES YOUR RFP INCLUDE A CMMI REQUIREMENT? (Part One)
The CMMI RFP Requirement, a Brief History
In the 1980’s the US Department of Defense (DoD) had been burned by many vendors for delivery their projects late, over budget, and with many defects. The DoD thought there should be some way to increase the likelihood that vendors deliver quality products on time and on budget. They awarded and funded Carnegie Mellon University the opportunity to develop a model for vendors to use to improve their performance.
The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) was created and eventually developed a process improvement model called the Capability Maturity Model (CMM). The primary focus of this model was software development, so the model evolved to include other aspects of developing a product, including systems engineering and hardware. Thus the CMMI (I for Integration) was born.
The DoD had a requirement for vendors to be appraised at a maturity level in order to submit a proposal. The thinking was that a company who has a maturity level will have process discipline and thus produce a better product. That would be the case if the vendor actually used the CMM/CMMII for the DoD projects. Unfortunately, the DoD learned that vendors weren’t using the CMM/CMMI for their projects. In fact, the DoD stopped requiring vendors to have a maturity level, as stated in the 2012 Defense Acquisition Guidebook:
“DoD does not place significant emphasis on capability level or maturity level ratings, but rather promotes CMMI as a tool for internal process improvement. This lack of emphasis on ratings is prudent in the light of findings that not all suppliers are exhibiting behavior consistent with their attained CMMI maturity level rating.” (Emphasis added)
Fast Forward to Now
So, you may ask, why does the DoD and most federal agencies still have the CMMI Maturity Level requirement in their RFP’s? I believe that many RFP writers don’t know exactly what the CMMI is and therefore don’t take it out. I talked with one friend who used to work on Capitol Hill and he told me that people use a “save as” copy of a previous RFP to write the new ones. That copy has a CMMI requirement, and since they don’t know what that is, they leave it in. Clients have told me that they have spoken to their government counterparts, and they admit they don’t know what the CMMI is.
I believe the CMMI requirement should stay in RFPs. The CMMI is a good process improvement model, which has proven to increase performance for companies that use it. Companies need to continue to use it after achieving a maturity level.
Companies obtain a maturity level by going through an appraisal on past, completed projects. Even if a company has the highest maturity level, there is no guarantee that they will follow the CMMI for the RFP (your) project. You would think that since you have a CMMI requirement in your RFP that the company would use the CMMI processes for your project. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Fix the Problem by Adding a “CMMI Project Monitoring” to Your RFP
Is there a way to guarantee that your vendor uses the CMMI for your project? Yes there is! And it only requires three words to be added to your RFP: CMMI Project Monitoring.
I will explain in detail how this work in a future blog.
Feel free to contact me if you want to discuss this or if you have questions.
CMMI Institute Certified Lead Appraiser
kmcpic @ comcast.net