Client Concern

A division of a major US defense contractor was operating successfully at CMM L3. In anticipation of changing market demands, they developed their strategy to migrate their improvement program to achieve CMMI V1.1 SE/SW L3 goals. Initial attempts at using the new models and appraisal methods proved to be more challenging than anticipated and led to the failure of internal teams. The leadership team determined that in order to effectively manage risk, reduce organizational impact and avoid unnecessary cost of failure, they required an approach and methodology for reliably conducting appraisals.

ISD Solution

ISD was contacted with the requirement to roll out a program of training, tools and incremental appraisal services leading up to and including SCAMPI A at Level 3 during 2004.IISD quickly assigned a lead appraiser with responsibility for designing an overall strategy, technical approach, plan and schedule that addressed the needs of the organization to achieve their CMMI L3 goal with manageable risk and cost. ISD strategy was to train internal team members to plan, prepare and conduct a series of incremental Class C appraisals designed to focus on discreet programs and/or processes in order to identify process gaps. Each event built upon the results of the last event by “looking back” to verify that old gaps were closed and “looking forward” to identify new gaps in the programs or process areas within the appraisal scope. This plan was accomplished during a period of dynamic, and significant change at the site, impacting; the programs selected, the process architecture and underlying procedures and program implementation, and of course, organizational leadership.

Appraisal Wizard, ISD’s automated tool for managing compliance audits, was used by the organization to manage the inherent complexity of the overall program as it evolved. Appraisal Wizard was initially used to map the site’s CMM-based process to the CMMI. Subsequently, it was used to identify process implementation indicators, collect appropriate evidence, organize it electronically in a convenient and accessible fashion in alignment with the model, and maintain the evidence even during periods of significant program and process change.

These efforts culminated in the conduct of a comprehensive, Class B appraisal designed to provide a near-final quality verification that all gaps have been filled, that any remaining risks were explicit and known to be manageable and that the site could confidently proceed with a SCAMPI A appraisal. The SCAMPI A appraisal was conducted by another ISD team leader (to protect objectivity), with internal team members (also Lead Appraisers) and representatives from the US Navy and the SEI. The site’s CMMI V1.1 SE/SW L3 goals were achieved.


In less than 18 months, ISD organized and rolled out a repeatable program of methods, tools, training and services that met the organization’s goals of reliably conducting appraisals with minimal risk and cost that was successfully used to migrate to a new model and appraisal method, and led to the successful achievement of their CMMI goal.