CITI scores another successful CMMI recertification

CITI recently achieved its latest renewal of the company’s CMMI® Level 3 rating.  This process maturity rating, formally known as the Capability Maturity Model Integration for Development (CMMI-DEV) - Maturity Level 3 (ML3) is an industry certification awarded by Carnegie Mellon University’s CMMI Institute (which took over from SEI) to recognize an organization’s capability for excellence in software development. CITI was approved, on April 5, for this rating by an authorized, independent organization—The Process Company LLC (TPC), based in Springfield, Virginia. The official notice of the renewed certification level is pending notification from CMMI Institute.

CEO Sunil Kolhekar, in his April 5 broadcast email to all employees, wrote, “This is great news… I would like you to join me and thank each one of our project team members for the hard work, dedication and commitment in achieving this goal.”

Kolhekar specially recognized Hibah Qubain as the internal lead for the company’s current CMMI initiative, and he commended the large cadre of managers and employees across multiple locations (the Tyson’s headquarters, Ballston offices, and several Washington, DC sites), who supported this complex effort—including a number of CITI project teams. Here is a list of all of the contributors (in general):

PMO – Venkatesh Melkote, Hibah Qubain, Vanessa Vizcarra, Stephen Barr
PMO Auditors – Satish Ingale, Paul Schapiro
CMMI Appraisal Board – Maybelle Siervo, Dennis Harrison, Reena Mahboob, Michael Carroll
Projects – eCC: PM Melissa Forrest and team; PASS: PM Kelley Packwood and team; manageID®:  PM Virat Tiwari, Fernando Arce, and team; CWSS/CADSS: PM John Evans, Megan Findlay, and team.

This collective effort, which spanned more than 18 months (October 2011 – April 2013), involved many hours of work and a high level of commitment on the part of everyone contributing to it. The CMMI drill is very important to the company because the appraisal allows CITI to bid on government contracts from which it otherwise might be barred, and it creates (or refines) a standard set of processes (based on industry best practices) that can be used, going forward, to ensure quality and commitment to our customers. Qubain affirmed the great teamwork these people displayed:

“There was some initial resistance, but towards the end we all became very committed to the effort and completing the tasks associated with this effort. We’re having a big celebration at Rustico on April 25th,” she said, happily.

What made this CMMI compliance effort more difficult than past efforts was that five projects, instead of just two, were being appraised; but because CITI’s PMO met with the appraiser (TPC) more often than in past efforts, it was less difficult than it might have been. Through that frequent interaction with the appraiser, the CMMI team was able to consistently ensure that all gaps in its work and records were filled and reconciled properly and in a timely manner.

CITI has been involved in systematic, CMMI-driven process improvement since 2004.  A continuous SW-CMM 2 rating was achieved in the fall of 2004.  The Process Improvement Program Round 1 (PIP R1) was completed in 2007 when CITI was independently assessed at a staged CMMI ML3 for three process areas—Risk Management, Requirements Development, and Requirements Management on Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Department of State (DOS) projects.  After that success, the PMO nurtured the seeds planted with PIP R1 by expanding its Process Health Review (PHR) audits to cover each project’s entire Performance Work Statement (PWS) as well as 15 additional CMMI processes, including project monitoring and control; validation; verification; structured decision making; supplier agreement management; and configuration management.

CITI received its first CMMI-DEV® ML3 rating three years ago (April 9, 2010), after TPC finished—just as it did last week—its A-level Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPI A) appraisal. That effort, CITI’s PIP R2 effort, had been officially chartered in March 2009, and it focused on the implementation of all 18 CMMI ML3 process areas by CITI and two of its project teams—Administrative Management Services (AMS) and Data Analysis, Presentation, and Reporting (DAPR)—within the Enterprise Services Division (ESD), at the Department of State.

NOTE: In addition to the PHR audits it does, CITI’s PMO has a metrics program to better monitor project and process performance.  The metrics program at CITI includes an ever-growing corporate repository monitored and updated by the PMO on a monthly basis.  The analyzed information is available to any CITI project manager as a ready source of corporate historical information for use when planning and executing projects.

The CMMI-DEV model was developed by a coalition of industry, government, and SEI to objectively appraise and recognize best practices in software engineering and systems engineering.  There are five levels of CMMI process maturity, with each of those levels being a layer in an organization’s foundation for ongoing process improvement.  The levels are designated by the numbers 1 through 5 with 5 being the highest. Well-known throughout the information technology (IT) industry and the federal government sector, the CMMI ML3 rating signifies the lower risks to successful program execution that an appraised organization can deliver.