CMMI-ACQ: Guidelines for Improving the Acquisition of Products and Services

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9780321580351: CMMI-ACQ: Guidelines for Improving the Acquisition of Products and Services

CMMI-ACQ® (Capability Maturity Model® Integration for Acquisition) describes best practices for the successful acquisition of products and services. Providing a practical framework for improving acquisition processes, CMMI-ACQ addresses the growing trend in business and government for organizations to purchase or outsource required products and services as an alternative to in-house development or resource allocation.


Modeled after CMMI®, Second Edition, which documented CMMI for Development, this book is the definitive reference for the current release of CMMI for Acquisition (version 1.2). In addition to the entire CMMI-ACQ model, the book includes tips, hints, cross-references, and other author notes to help you understand, apply, and find more information about the content of the acquisition process areas. The authors also have added two chapters to illustrate the application of CMMI-ACQ in industry (a case study from General Motors) and government. Whether you are new to CMMI models or are already familiar with one or more of them, you will find this book an essential resource for managing your acquisition processes and improving your overall performance.


The book is divided into three parts.


Part One introduces CMMI-ACQ in the broad context of CMMI models, including essential concepts and useful background. It then describes and shows the relationships among all the components of the CMMI-ACQ process areas, and explains paths to the adoption and use of the model for process improvement and benchmarking. Finally, two separate chapters describe special acquisition needs in a government environment and real experiences with CMMI-ACQ from industry.


Part Two first describes generic goals and generic practices, and then, in twenty-two sections, details each of the CMMI-ACQ process areas, including specific goals, specific practices, and examples. These process areas are organized alphabetically by process area acronym to facilitate quick reference.


Part Three provides several useful references, including sources for further information about CMMI and CMMI-ACQ, acronym definitions, a glossary of terms, and an index.

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About the Author:

Brian P. Gallagher is director of ISR Mission Systems Engineering within the ISR Systems Division, Mission Systems Sector, Northrop Grumman. He was previously director of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) Acquisition Program.


Mike Phillips is program manager for CMMI at the SEI. In that position he leads the CMMI Product Suite evolution for the SEI. He was a senior acquisition professional in the military before joining the SEI.


Dr. Karen J. Richter is a research analyst and senior project leader at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), a research and development “think tank” for the Department of Defense. She has served on the CMMI Configuration Control Board and the CMMI Steering Group.


Sandy Shrum is a senior writer/editor at the SEI. She has been with the SEI since 1995 and has been a member of the CMMI Development Team since the CMMI project’s inception in 1998.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

A growing trend in business and government alike is one that has organizations purchasing, outsourcing, and acquiring products and services to deliver or assemble and deliver to their customers. Instead of focusing on the development of products and services, organizations are focusing on acquiring the best products and services developed by other organizations.Because of this new emphasis in organizations, there is a lack of experience to draw on in the organization or even to hire that makes it difficult to be successful in this acquisition environment. The factors to consider are different.

The CMMI ® Product Team and its sponsors acknowledge this trend and have created the CMMI for Acquisition (CMMI-ACQ) model to help these organizations by codifying best practices. These best practices apply to processes critical to the successful acquisition of products and services and cover the important processes involved in an acquisition environment.

What Is CMMI?

CMMI (Capability Maturity Model ® Integration) is the name given to the collection of models that comprise best practices designed to help organizations improve the performance of their processes and the training and appraisals that support these models. A CMMI model documents activities important to different aspects of the processes needed to deliver products and services to a customer. The CMMI model contained in this book, CMMI-ACQ, is a model designed specifically for organizations that acquire products and services, including large complex systems.

The first CMMI model was developed by a product team from industry, government, and the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) for the application of process improvement in the development of products and services.

What Is CMMI for Acquisition?

The CMMI-ACQ model was developed in a slightly different way. The first step was taken by General Motors, in collaboration with the SEI and with approval of the CMMI Sponsors and Steering Group. An author team in its Information Technology department developed the initial draft of the Acquisition model as the special report, Adapting CMMI for Acquisition Organizations: A Preliminary Report. This report was released by the SEI on its website. The CMMI Product Team sought input about this report from organizations that acquire products and services as a major part of the business processes. Organizations were also recruited to pilot this report to see how well it helped those who used it.

In the meantime, the CMMI Product Team formed a model development team that would use the report as a basis to form a CMMI model. Gathering input from those who piloted and reviewed the preliminary report, the CMMI-ACQ development team began work on just that. This team consisted of members from government, industry, and the SEI to ensure a wide variety of perspectives, just as other CMMI model development teams had in the past. This team subsequently created CMMI for Acquisition, Version 1.2 (CMMI-ACQ, V1.2). This model was released in November 2007 as a new member of the CMMI Product Suite and is included in this book with elements we’ve added.

We, as book authors, added tips and hints to all of the model’s process areas to help you apply the practices in your organization. We’ve also added a case study from General Motors that describes how CMMI-ACQ has worked in that organization. Further, we’ve included important information about and for the government’s use of CMMI-ACQ and the government’s special needs.


The purpose of this book is to present acquisition best practices by including the full CMMI-ACQ, V1.2 model as well as other information to help you apply these practices in your organization. This other information takes the form of tips, hints, and cross references that supplement the model practices and additional chapters that focus on the needs of industry and government.

The CMMI-ACQ, V1.2 model is a collection of best practices generated from the CMMI V1.2 Architecture and Framework. This collection’s best practices apply to professionals in both government and industry who acquire products and services for their customers and end users.

CMMI-ACQ shares model components with other CMMI models such as the CMMI for Development (CMMI-DEV) and the Software Acquisition Capability Maturity Model (SA-CMM). CMMI-ACQ also incorporates work by several acquisition organizations to adapt the CMMI-DEV model best practices for use in an acquisition organization.

The CMMI-ACQ model provides guidance for those who initiate and manage the acquisition of products and services that meet the needs of the customer and end user. Although suppliers may provide artifacts useful to the processes addressed in CMMI-ACQ, the focus of the model is on the processes of the acquiring organization. CMMI-ACQ integrates bodies of knowledge that are essential to these processes.

The supplier-executed portion of the activities integral to the acquisition of products and services may use the CMMI for Development (CMMI-DEV) model. In cases where the acquirer is also a product or service developer (e.g., taking responsibility for the first few layers of product development and integration), CMMI-DEV (in particular the Requirements Development, Technical Solution, and Product Integration process areas) are useful for improving the acquirer’s product or service development processes.

Contributors to CMMI for Acquisition

Many talented people were involved in the development of the CMMI v1.2 Product Suite, which includes both CMMI for Acquisition and CMMI for Development. Three primary groups involved in this development were the CMMI Steering Group, Product Team, and Configuration Control Board.

The Steering Group approved the architecture for adding additional areas of interest to the CMMI Product Suite by approving the concept of “constellations” built from the CMMI Model Framework (CMF) and CMMI Architecture. A constellation is a collection of components used to construct models, training materials, and appraisal materials in an area of interest (e.g., acquisition and development).

The Steering Group initiated the development of the Acquisition constellation, recognizing the importance of providing best practices to acquirers. The Steering Group provided guidance for the development of the CMMI-ACQ model and its accompanying training materials by guiding and approving plans of the Product Team, providing consultation on significant CMMI project issues, and ensuring involvement from a variety of interested communities.

The Product Team wrote, reviewed, revised, discussed, and agreed on the structure and technical content of the CMMI Product Suite, including the framework, models, training, and appraisal materials. Development activities were based on multiple inputs. These inputs included an A-Specification and guidance specific to each release provided by the Steering Group, source models, change requests received from the user community, and input received from pilots and other stakeholders.

The CMMI Configuration Control Board (CCB) is the official mechanism for controlling changes to CMMI models, the SCAMPI appraisal method, and Introduction to CMMI training. As such, this group ensures integrity over the life of the product suite by reviewing all proposed changes to the baseline and approving only those changes that satisfy identified issues and meet criteria for the upcoming release.

The Acquisition Advisory Board acted as the configuration control board for the Acquisition constellation, approving all changes to the initial draft of the CMMI-ACQ contained in the special report. Consisting of experts in the field of acquisition, this group ensured the integrity of the constellation using the same review process as the CMMI CCB.

Members of the groups involved in developing CMMI-ACQ, V1.2 are listed in Appendix C.


The audience for CMMI-ACQ is anyone interested in process improvement in an acquisition environment. Whether you are familiar with the concept of Capability Maturity Models or are seeking information to get started on your improvement efforts, CMMI-ACQ will be useful to you. This model is also intended for organizations that want to use a reference model for an appraisal of their acquisition-related processes. 1

Organization of this Book

The organization of the book is similar to the CMMI-ACQ model available on the SEI website. However, we added a few features that are not found in that document:

  • We added tips, hints, and cross-references in the margins throughout the process areas to help you better understand, apply, or find more information about the content of the process areas.
  • We added two additional chapters in Part One. The first, Chapter 6, describes the special needs of government acquisition organizations and how CMMI-ACQ can support improving processes in that environment. The second, Chapter 7, demonstrates how CMMI-ACQ can successfully be applied in industry and the benefits that can result from its use.
  • Process area sections have tabs that help you to quickly open the book to just the spot you need.
  • An index is provided to help you find specific information quickly.

The book is organized into three main parts:

  • Part One—About CMMI for Acquisition
  • Part Two—Generic Goals and Generic Practices, and the Process Areas
  • Part Three—The Appendices and Glossary

Part One, “About CMMI for Acquisition,” consists of seven chapters:

  • Chapter 1, “Introduction,” offers a broad view of CMMI and the Acquisition constellation, concepts of process improvement, the history of models used for process improvement, and different process improvement approaches.
  • Chapter 2, “Process Area Components,” describes all of the components of the CMMI-ACQ process areas.
  • Chapter 3, “Tying It All Together,” assembles the model components and explains the concepts of maturity levels and capability levels.
  • Chapter 4, “Relationships Among Process Areas,” provides insight into the meaning and interactions of the CMMI-ACQ process areas.
  • Chapter 5, “Using CMMI Models,” describes paths to adoption and the use of CMMI-ACQ for process improvement and benchmarking of practices in an acquisition organization.
  • Chapter 6, “Government Acquisition and CMMI” describes the special needs of the government acquisition environment and how CMMI-ACQ provides a helpful tool for improvement.
  • Chapter 7, “General Motors Case Study,” describes the experiences of General Motors as they applied CMMI-ACQ best practices in the organization and the benefits that resulted.

Part Two, “Generic Goals and Generic Practices, and the Process Areas,” contains all of this CMMI model’s required and expected components. It also contains related informative components, including subpractices, notes, examples, and typical work products.

Part Two contains 23 sections. The first section contains the generic goals and practices. The remaining 22 sections each represent one of the CMMI-ACQ process areas. 2 To make these process areas easy to find, they are organized alphabetically by process area acronym and have tabs on the outside edge of the page. Each section contains descriptions of goals, best practices, and examples. Plus, we’ve added tips, hints, and cross-references in the outer margins to help explain concepts and relationships, and to provide other useful information.

Part Three, “The Appendices and Glossary,” consists of four sections:

  • Appendix A, “References,” contains references you can use to locate documented sources of information such as reports, process improvement models, industry standards, and books that are related to CMMI-ACQ.
  • Appendix B, “Acronyms,” defines the acronyms used in the model.
  • Appendix C, “CMMI for Acquisition Project Participants,” contains lists of team members and their organizations who participated in the development of CMMI-ACQ, Version 1.2.
  • Appendix D, “Glossary,” defines many of the terms used in CMMI-ACQ.

How to Use this Book

Whether you are new to process improvement, new to CMMI, or already familiar with CMMI, Part One can help you understand why CMMI-ACQ is the guide to use for improving your acquisition processes.

Readers New to Process Improvement

If you are new to process improvement or new to the Capability Maturity Model (CMM ® ) concept, we suggest that you read Chapter 1, “Introduction,” first. Chapter 1 contains an overview of process improvement that explains what CMMI is all about.

Next, skim Part Two, including generic goals and practices and specific goals and practices, to get a feel for the scope of the best practices contained in the model. Pay close attention to the purpose and introductory notes at the beginning of each process area.

In Part Three, look through the references in Appendix A and select additional sources you think would be beneficial to read before moving forward with using CMMI-ACQ. Read through the acronyms and glossary to become familiar with the language of CMMI. Then, go back and read the details of Part Two, including the tips and hints.

Readers Experienced with Process Improvement

If you are new to CMMI but have experience with other process improvement models, such as the Software Acquisition CMM, you will immediately recognize many similarities in their structure and content.

We recommend that you read Part One to understand how CMMI is different from other process improvement models. If you have experience with other models, you may want to select which sections to read first. Read Part Two with an eye for best practices you recognize from the models that you have already used. By identifying familiar material, you will gain an understanding of what is new and what has been carried over, or is familiar from the models you already know. Review the tips, hints, and cross-references to see details and relationships that will help you understand CMMI better.

Next, review the glossary to understand how some terminology may differ from that used in the process improvement models you know. Many concepts are repeated, but they may be called something different.

Readers Familiar with CMMI

If you have reviewed or used a CMMI model before, you will quickly recognize the CMMI concepts discussed and the best practices presented. Focus in on the tips, hints, and cross-references in the process areas to discover new ideas, relationships, or details you may have missed before.

Additional Information and Reader Feedback

There are many sources of information about CMMI, such as the background and history of the CMMI models, as well as the benefits of using CMMI models. Many of these sources are listed in Appendix A and are also published on the CMMI Web site—

Your suggestions for improving CMMI are welcome. For information on how to provide feedback, see the CMMI Web site at If you have questions about CMMI, send email to


1. An appraisal is an examination of one or more processes by a trained team of professionals using a reference model (e.g., CMMI-ACQ) as the basis for determining strengths and weaknesses.
2. A process area is a cluster of related best practices in an ...

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