6.2. CMMI Ownership
When it comes to CMMI, the issue of ownership is easy: all citizens of the U.S. own it. If you're an American, you own CMMI because you paid for it. As mentioned in the previous section, CMMI is a product of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), and the SEI is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Department of Defense. So CMMI belongs to the American people. If you're an American, you get full use of it, free and clear. But you don't just own CMMI. Just as important, youand everyone elsehave access to just about all the programs developed by the SEI. These include programs to help you implement CMMI, programs to help you assess your implementation, tips and techniques for your staff, and methods for technology management in areas other than the systems and software development fields. You can take a look at everything the SEI makes available to you at its web site, www.sei.cmu.edu. There, you can browse through an extensive library of programs, papers, analyses, reviews, and studies, all geared to helping you make your IT program stronger.
Because most of the work of the SEI is released into the public domain, you get unlimited distribution rights to the material as well. That means you can download any of the specs from the SEI and make copies for everyone in your organization at no charge. You can share them, teach them, even write books about them. You can hand them out on street corners if you want. The only requirement is that you respect the copyrights. You can't, for example, republish CMMI as "Joe's Maturity Model." Other than that, the field is yours.
This ownership status brings with it one advantage that the ISO 9001:2000 Standard and Six Sigma can't offer. CMMI is a fully supported program that is free to implement. ISO 9001 isn't. Sure, it is indeed a fully supported program; the ISO is a highly organized enterprise. And it has been able to develop and refine its Quality Management System standards in a smooth and successful manner. But you have to pay a fee to get the standard. It is not free. It is copyrighted, and that copyright is tightly enforced. If I wanted to publish a book on how to implement ISO 9001:2000, I would be allowed to present only my interpretation of the spec, not the spec itself. If I retyped the official ISO spec, I'd have attorneys from Geneva knocking at my door as fast as an SST could cross the Atlantic.
With Six Sigma, the view is a little different. Six Sigma is free, free in the same way that mathematics is free. If you know how to do it, you can do it any place and any time you want. What Six Sigma currently lacks is a recognized, centralized governing body. There are solid organizations out there that can mentor people into the Six Sigma fold (places like Six Sigma Academy and the American Society for Quality), but Six Sigma has not yet emerged as a coordinated, programmatic standard.
CMMI has the advantage of being both free and centrally maintained. This brings us to a paradox inherent in CMMI's "free" status. Created for the U.S. by the U.S., it has become immensely popular worldwide, in large part because it is free and it is so well supported. Companies around the globe are taking advantage of this; some think India probably has more Maturity Level 5 organizations per square mile than any other place on the planet. The government of Poland has made CMMI certification a required part of its national IT project bid process. The government of Tasmania is exploring initiatives to support CMMI adoption. The University of Ulster has been chartered by the UK Ministry of Defense to provide CMMI solutions in the Northern Ireland IT business sector. The Japanese government is contemplating establishing a CMMI Research Center to support CMMI in its territories. I have personally worked with representatives from Sweden, Portugal, Spain, and the Ukraine, all actively pursuing CMMI programs.[*]
So what started out as a strategy to hone American competitiveness has transformed into a worldwide quality standard. That's probably a good trend. The broad acceptance of CMMI and other SEI programs will no doubt have a consolidating effect on the standards world. Even now, the SEI and ISO are working together to design what may become a single method for program appraisals, applicable to both CMMI and 9001:2000 models.
What you own then is a CMMI that is robust, effective, and positioned for future growth. What lies at the heart of this successful model? That's what I'll look at in the next section. I'll explore the design, structure, and components that make up CMMI.