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United States Software IT

US Requirement For Software Dev Certification Raises Questions 228

Posted by samzenpus
from the outsatnding-achievment-in-the-field-of-excellence dept.
dcblogs writes "U.S. government contracts often require bidders to have achieved some level of Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). CMMI arose some 25 years ago via the backing of the Department of Defense and the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. It operated as a federally funded research and development center until a year ago, when CMMI's product responsibility was shifted to a private, profit-making LLC, the CMMI Institute. The Institute is now owned by Carnegie Mellon. Given that the CMMI Institute is now a self-supporting firm, any requirement that companies be certified by it — and spend the money needed to do so — raises a natural question. 'Why is the government mandating that you support a for-profit company?' said Henry Friedman, the CEO of IR Technologies, a company that develops logistics defense related software and uses CMMI. The value of a certification is subject to debate. To what extent does a CMMI certification determine a successful project outcome? CGI Federal, the lead contractor at, is a veritable black belt in software development. In 2012, it achieved the highest possible Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) level for development certification, only the 10th company in the U.S. to do so."
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US Requirement For Software Dev Certification Raises Questions

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  • by icebike (68054) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:37PM (#45823449)

    Exactly. The Supreme Court already ruled you can be forced to contract with a private company for many different things. That cat is out of the bag.
    Expect more of this in the future.

    As for certifications, like virtually all of them, this one (CMMI) is totally useless in assuring quality.

  • Re:Proof! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:44PM (#45823491)

    I've learned that to get successful software, you simply cannot do things "by the book". That's why Skunkworks projects happened, exactly BECAUSE if you go "by the book" (or "follow the process") stuff just won't get done, or will get semi-done spectacularly crappy.

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Monday December 30, 2013 @07:57PM (#45823587) Homepage Journal

    High CMMI maturity levels are really only achievable if you are in the business of mass producing something. They emphasise continuous refinement of production processes, as opposed to research and the development of totally new products. You can write procedures for R&D but they don't allow you to include steps like and then a miracle happens.

  • some of it is useful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Goldsmith (561202) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:13PM (#45823719)

    I've worked in the past as part of the DoD Acquisitions Workforce.

    CMMI is really just part of a broader obsession in DoD with project and program management. Abstractly, these are good things. When implemented correctly, they make debacles like nearly impossible. Good planning, budgeting and in-progress evaluation are generally applicable to basic research projects, software development and building ships. We all want to work on projects which are well run.

    The problem is, blindly stepping through the predefined process of project management has nothing to do with actually managing a project. You still need good managers who can recognize problems in the technical fields they're working with, understand what to do when problems crop up and are empowered to act. DoD in general fools itself into thinking it has people like this because the paperwork is done right. I suspect that's a fairly common problem.

    We all know there's a problem with treating the "talent" (i.e. programmers) as interchangeable blocks using these systems. I think treating management the same way is worse. The ideas that management is mastery of a process and operates solely for organizational interest over individual interest are flawed, but central to things like CMMI.

  • by Guillermito (187510) on Monday December 30, 2013 @08:18PM (#45823777) Homepage

    I live in Argentina, where any software company getting a CMMI certification can apply for a tax cut. Because of that, CMMI was all the rage around eight years ago or so. Turns out CMMI was so utterly useless and cumbersome that at this point most companies prefer to forget about the tax cuts rather than bother with being CMMI certified. Only companies seeking government contracts continue doing so.

System checkpoint complete.