Capability Immaturity Model
|This article reads like a news release, or is otherwise written in an overly promotional tone. (June 2012)|
Capability Immaturity Model (CIMM) in software engineering is a parody acronym, a semi-serious effort to provide a contrast to the Capability Maturity Model (CMM). The Capability Maturity Model is a five point scale of capability in an organization, ranging from random processes at level 1 to fully defined, managed and optimized processes at level 5. The ability of an organization to carry out its mission on time and within budget is claimed to improve as the CMM level increases.
The "Capability Im-Maturity Model" asserts that organizations can and do occupy levels below CMM level 1. An original article by Capt. Tom Schorsch USAF as part of a graduate project at the Air Force Institute of Technology provides the definitions for CIMM. He cites Prof. Anthony Finkelstein's ACM paper as an inspiration. The article describes situations that arise in dysfunctional organizations. These situations are not uncommon and occur in organizations of all kinds undertaking software development, i.e. they are more properly in practice characterizations of the management of specific projects since they can occur even in organizations with positive CMM levels.
Capability Immaturity Model levels
Finkelstein defined levels 0 (foolish), -1 (stupid) and -2 (lunatic). Schorsch changed the names and added level -3.
0 : Negligent
The organization pays lip service, often with excessive fanfare, to implementing engineering processes, but lacks the will to carry through the necessary effort. Whereas CMM level 1 assumes eventual success in producing work, CIMM level 0 organizations generally fail to produce any product, or do so by abandoning regular procedures in favor of crash programs.
-1 : Obstructive
Processes, however inappropriate and ineffective, are implemented with rigor and tend to obstruct work. Adherence to process is the measure of success in a Level -1 organization. Any actual creation of viable product is incidental. The quality of any product is not assessed, presumably on the assumption that if the proper process were followed, high quality is guaranteed. This is the most common level achieved by most organizations that pursue CIMM ratings.
Paradoxically, Level -1 organizations believe fervently in following defined procedures, but lacking the will to measure the effectiveness of the procedures they rarely succeed at their basic task of creating work. Unfortunately, this behavior is inherent in the CIMM evaluation process. Since many government agencies will only award contracts over a certain monetary value to organizations that can pass a CIMM-3 or higher SCAMPI appraisal, management is more often than not willing to accept some inefficiencies in order to win these lucrative contracts. Government contracting models, in which organizations are paid not for the value of their products but by the number of hours spent building them, reward organizations for performing non-value-added activities related to CIMM compliance. Thus, government contractors with CIMM ratings will ultimately be more profitable than non-CIMM rated companies regardless of the quality of the work they produce. Whether CIMM processes provide any value in producing higher quality work is immaterial.
-2 : Contemptuous
The organization’s ineffectiveness has become apparent to the marketplace or the larger organization, which ignores or attempts to neutralize these unfavorable perceptions. Measurements are fudged to make the organization look good. Measures of activity (bugs fixed, lines of code written, hours worked) replace measures of productivity (% functions completed, test success rates). (This exchange is favorable to an organization in direct proportion to its ineffectiveness.) Volatility in specifications and schedules is recast as evidence of organizational “agility.” Certifications on “best processes” are presented as evidence that the organization is performing optimally; poor results must then be due to issues outside its control and for which, therefore, no one can be blamed. Regrettably, the processes chosen typically omit or shortcut essential components of recognized methods – the “6-week Six-Sigma, “Lean CMM” - or are flexible enough to cover a multitude of sins, such as “agile development”. The organization becomes committed to ineffective processes, leading to a feedback cycle of increasing disorganization.
-3 : Undermining
Not content with faking their own performance, undermining organizations routinely work to downplay and sabotage the efforts of rival organizations, especially those successfully implementing processes common to CMM level 2 and higher. This is worst where company policy causes departments to compete for scarce resources, which are allocated to the loudest advocates.
- Capability Maturity Model
- Capability Maturity Model Integration (newer)
- People Capability Maturity Model
- Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement SCAMPI Class A, B, C Appraisal
- ISO 29110: Software Life Cycle Profiles and Guidelines for Very Small Entities (VSEs)
- T. Schorsch, "The Capability Im-Maturity Model (CIMM)", U.S. Air Force (CrossTalk Magazine), 1996.
- A. Finkelstein, A Software Process Immaturity Model, SIGSOFT Software Engineering Notes, 1992.