* SEI = 'Software Engineering Institute' at Carnegie-Mellon University; initiated by the U.S. Defense Department to help improve software development processes.
* CMM = 'Capability Maturity Model', now called the CMMI ('Capability Maturity Model Integration'), developed by the SEI. It's a model of 5 levels of process 'maturity' that determine effectiveness in delivering quality software. It is geared to large organizations such as large U.S. Defense Department contractors. However, many of the QA processes involved are appropriate to any organization, and if reasonably applied can be helpful. Organizations can receive CMMI ratings by undergoing assessments by qualified auditors.
* Level 1 - characterized by chaos, periodic panics, and heroic efforts required by individuals to successfully complete projects. Few if any processes in place; successes may not be repeatable.
* Level 2 - software project tracking, requirements management, realistic planning, and configuration management processes are in place; successful practices can be repeated.
* Level 3 - standard software development and maintenance processes are integrated throughout an organization; a Software Engineering Process Group is is in place to oversee software processes, and training programs are used to ensure understanding and compliance.
* Level 4 - metrics are used to track productivity, processes, and products. Project performance is predictable, and quality is consistently high.
* Level 5 - the focus is on continouous process improvement. The impact of new processes and technologies can be predicted and effectively implemented when required.
* Perspective on CMM ratings: During 1997-2001, 1018 organizations were assessed. Of those, 27% were rated at Level 1, 39% at 2, 23% at 3, 6% at 4, and 5% at 5. (For ratings during the period 1992-96, 62% were at Level 1, 23% at 2, 13% at 3, 2% at 4, and 0.4% at 5.) The median size of organizations was 100 software engineering/maintenance personnel; 32% of organizations were U.S. federal contractors or agencies. For those rated at Level 1, the most problematical key process area was in Software Quality Assurance.