MIS Quarterly Executive


A growing number of organizations are using the Software Engineering Institute's (SEI) Capability Maturity Model? (CMM?) to improve their software development process. Following a Total Quality Management philosophy, the CMM defines five successively higher levels of "process maturity," each requiring progressively more discipline in development. Some critics believe such organizational discipline burdens and demotivates developers. Computer Science Corporation's experience, however, has been more positive. This article presents lessons that two Computer Sciences Corporation units learned in their journey to Level 5. Interviews with developers and managers found that although the higher levels of CMM imposed considerable paperwork burden, team members usually experienced the resulting discipline as enabling rather than coercive. We found four key factors needed for successful CMM implementation: creating sufficient strategic impetus to pursue CMM certification, sustaining management commitment to the requisite investments of time and resources, orchestrating broad staff participation in defining and refining processes, and facilitating organizational socialization to encourage software developers' buy-in to CMM-style discipline.