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Software Engineering Institute [SEI]
and the
Capability Maturity Model [CMM]

Software development is a huge industry, and has been studied intensely.  But even many industry professionals are surprised to hear that a Center of Excellence exists that has collected the industry's Best Practices and Procedures, and makes them available for use.  That Center of Excellence is the Software Engineering Institute, or SEI, located at Carnegie Mellon University, with URL http://www.sei.cmu.edu.

CMU-SEI Logo

Originally a Federally Funded Research and Development Center [FFRDC] of the US Department of Defense -- similar to the RAND Corporation or Los Alamos National Laboratory -- the SEI is now a resource center for the Software Industry, one of the nation's leading economic sectors.

The SEI's mission is to maintain resources for companies to use in achieving the best software engineering output for their development dollars.  It does this by identifying so-called Key Practice Areas -- "KPAs" -- that have worked in the past for many companies, and describing ways to implement KPAs in new endeavors.  Examples of KPAs include documentation of risks, incorporating lessons-learned into future training regimes, and related concepts.

When a company has implemented Related groups of KPAs, they are regarded as having achieved a specific level of organizational maturity, and can be classed according to an increasingly sophisticated "Capability Maturity Model", or "CMM", defined by the SEI.  CMM levels are defined as 1 thru 5, with 5 being the most mature.

The SEI actually awards certifications of achievement of different CMM levels, and as such resembles many other certifying organizations.  SEI certification to a given CMM level is sometimes required of a company for contractual or other reasons.  Other times, adherence to KPAs and CMM guidelines is simply useful to a company seeking to improve its engineering performance, without regard to formal SEI certification.  In either case, the SEI has provided a useful service to the software industry thru its programs and research.

Mr. Wayne B. Norris, our principal, has lead an SEI CMM Level 2-3 assessment program, and he and his staff would be glad to evaluate YOUR requirements for software process improvement, using the most modern and sensible guidelines for YOUR firm!

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