Reaching the Peak of CMMI: How Fast Can You Climb?

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Witness the incredible speed at which an international giant achieved the pinnacle of CMMI ratings...then learn how your organization can follow in its footsteps!

While implementing the CMMI at Maturity Levels 2 and 3 usually contributes to some level of improved performance, successfully implementing Maturity Level 5 enables an organization to begin to truly optimize their performance. This distinction is even more noteworthy when an organization is able to successfully mature rapidly. A division of a large international systems integration company headquartered in Seoul, South Korea (LG CNS, LG Insurance Sector) reached this pinnacle in October 2005 having successfully reached Maturity Level 5 after achieving Maturity Level 3 just twelve months earlier. Though this speedy rise cannot be accomplished by every organization, there are certain attributes, practices, and lessons learned that can be applied to help manage change, improve processes, and rapidly transform performance.

I was given the privilege of leading this successful Maturity Level 5 appraisal, which provided insight into how they were able to succeed. There were many factors that contributed to their success: strong management commitment, leveraging corporate knowledge and resources, capitalizing on Six Sigma, low employee turnover, repetitive cycles, and the Korean culture. By itself, each factor is not sufficient to ensure rapid success. However, the synergy of their collective existence is what enabled the LG Insurance Sector to swiftly implement Maturity Levels 4 and 5 and have a successful appraisal.

The most important success factor for LG was management commitment. Where LG CNS and the LG Insurance Sector excelled was that management commitment was not solely confined to the organizational unit, it was evident throughout LG CNS. Proper attention was given to staffing, resources, and necessary training from the corporate level all the way into each organizational unit. The individual teams were empowered to make decisions, take credit for their success, and take responsibility for their failures. And most importantly each manager was a strong process improvement advocate. More than merely talking the talk, they truly walked the walk. This solid culture of commitment promoted process improvement and enabled rapid change.

One of the world class practices I noted from several LG CNS assessments and appraisals was their use of corporate resources to establish, augment, and coach a local SEPG group. This corporate knowledge base is very valuable in helping an LG division avoid the CMMI implementation pitfalls experienced by other groups, thereby greatly enhancing the organization’s ability to rapidly progress up the Maturity Levels. The corporate SEPG group worked directly with the division to help them learn from the successes and failures of other LG CNS organizations and then appropriately apply these lessons internally. The corporate SEPG provided a standard set of corporate processes and assets for all organizations to use, the necessary process model training (be it ISO 9000, SPICE, CMMI, or Six Sigma), and hands-on CMMI implementation consulting services. When the local SEPG was capable, the corporate support phased out allowing the organizational unit to fly solo. This approach has been very successful for LG CNS throughout the corporation. By bringing knowledge and resources to the organizational unit, LG CNS avoided having each organization repeat the same mistakes, as well as building a cadre of expert internal process improvement consultants. In the case of the LG Insurance Sector, the corporate SEPG leveraged their experience from another LG CNS division that had successfully achieved Maturity Level 5 with the Software CMM. Even though there were local LG Insurance Sector challenges with implementing High Maturity practices, learning from how other internal organizations had already addressed these issues made it possible to overcome these challenges and rapidly implement Maturity Levels 4 and 5.

When employee turnover is high, the organization spends countless hours training new employees. And if their

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