CMM Requirements for Training

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The CMM requires training at both Levels 2 and 3. It is important to understand the context and intent of these training requirements in designing an organizational training program.

The CMM's assumption is that individuals should possess the skills and knowledge needed to successfully execute their assigned tasks. For individuals who may lack this knowledge (e.g., newly promoted project managers), training is provided to make an individual proficient with specialized instruction and practice. Classroom training is a common mechanism many organizations use to build the skills of their employees.

CMM Training Requirements

At Level 2, under the Abilities key practices of each Key Process Area (KPA), the phrase "receive training" is used in the CMM requirements. The assumption is that individuals are selected for assignments based on general background and experience, and their supervisor monitors their performance. If a problem is noted, the supervisor would ensure the performer receives training, to provide the missing skills and knowledge.

This implies that training is available for all Level 2 KPAs. Large Level 2 companies typically maintain an on-going series of courses in each KPA, and the supervisor enrolls those needing training in the next scheduled class. Many smaller companies may have difficulty with this approach (see solution below).

The term "orientation" is used in the CMM to broadly to indicate less depth of skill or knowledge being transferred than would be expected via training. Orientation is an overview or introduction to a topic for those overseeing or interfacing with the individuals responsible for performing in the topic area. For example, software engineers need "orientation" in Software Configuration Management (SCM), whereas SCM specialists need "training" in SCM.

At Levels 3 and above, the phrase "receive required training" is used in every Key Process Area. The organization must identify the skills and knowledge needed for each job function, acquire training courses to provide these skills and knowledge, and ensure everyone takes their required training. This applies to the Level 2 and Level 3 areas.

At Level 3, the organization also must comply with the Key Process Area entitled "Training Program". Training is managed as an organizational responsibility, but the software projects identify their needed skills and provide the necessary training when the project's needs are unique.

Most Level 3 organizations have a centralized training office which administers the courses, and tracks attendance against the set of required courses by job function. The list of required courses and course content are typically developed by the Software Engineering Process Group, based on guidance provided in the CMM. In the CMM, each key process areas identifies typical training topics; vendor courses should address those topics, as appropriate for the organization's needs.

A Level 2 Organizational Training Strategy

Many companies seeking Level 2 find it difficult to maintain a steady series of scheduled courses, so that courses are available on an as-needed basis. These companies find it easier to take a more Level 3-like approach to training. They identify the required skills and knowledge for each CMM-related job function, and acquire a set of courses to provide this information. They offer all the courses in an initial series, and ensure that everyone in the organization takes their required courses. This approach fulfills both Level 2 and 3 requirements for all employees at the same time. On an annual basis, the series is repeated for new hires and recent promotees.

Many training vendors offer long courses (4-5 days). This is to the vendors' benefit, but generally exceed the CMM requirements. A typical set of courses which satisfies the Level 2 requirements is:
Course Duration Required attendees Covers Which KPAs
Software Project Planning & Tracking 3 days Software project leads/managers Software Project Planning, Software Project Tracking & Oversight, Requirements Management, Software Quality Assurance, Software Configuration Management (orientation only)
Requirements Management 1-2 days Requirements analysts Requirements Management
Software Quality Assurance 1 day SQA specialists Software Quality Assurance
Software Configuration Management 1-2 days SCM specialists Software Configuration Management
Software Development 1 day Software engineers All Level 2 KPAs (orientation only)

Another set of recommended courses is:
Course Duration Required attendees Covers Which KPAs
CMM Awareness 1 day Everyone in software Ensures everyone understands the CMM requirements that apply to them
Introduction to the CMM 3 day SEPG Practical description of what actions are needed to satisfy the CMM.
SEPG Skills 2 days SEPG Provides needed skills and techniques for process improvement.; satisfies requirements for: Organizational Process Focus & Organizational Process Definition
Software Product Engineering 1 day Software engineers Software Product Engineering
Organizational Policies and Procedures 1/2 days Everyone in software Acquaints everyone with the SPI initiative and organizational-specific policies and procedures.
CMM for Executives 90 minutes Executives, sponsors Sets reasonable expectation for the SPI program; identifies needed executive actions

Process Improvement Associates

PIA has set up and run this program for numerous clients. We offer proven courses in all the areas listed. Individual course syllabuses are available at our website: