There seems to be a bit of excitement in the ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) world just now. As we predicted, the big boys are fleshing out their offerings by acquisition – and exciting new products are appearing.
At a recent BCS CMSG gathering, we were rather taken by the intriguingly-named Plastic SCM (Software Configuration Management) tool from Codice Software, a Spanish company headed by Pablo Santos.
But we were even more taken aback on visiting its website to see it claiming "CMMI Certification". You can't certify to CMMI, you are assessed or appraised using the Software Engineering Institute's (SEI's) SCAMPI (Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement) appraisal process and you are appraised against one of five maturity levels (ML1 – 5, 5 being Nirvana, especially in India).
The appraisal has a scope (has the whole organisation been assessed, or only part of it); and, importantly, a limited lifetime. We are prepared to get quite annoyed about spurious certification claims, but it seems that what Codice is actually doing with CMMI is still more-or-less loyal to its spirit.
According to Santos, the assessment is only partly for "image" (Codice is the first Spanish SME, he thinks, to be assessed at any CMMI level) but also to ensure that Codice doesn't depart from its avowed Agile process (Scrum and so on).
As Santos says, i's easy to say you follow Agile practices when all you really do is agilely cut corners; CMMI-appraised institutionalised process helps ensure that you maintain your Agile focus ("do what we're supposed to do", as Santos puts it).
This is a much better reason for appraisal than building image. CMMI "certification" won't mean much to anyone who doesn't know CMMI and probably won't impress anyone who does (although Santos claims that "even the SEI consultants call it certification", which I can believe, although it rather saddens me).
Codice was appraised at ML2 on15 March 2007 (see the SEI's published appraisal results here - you should always verify such claims) and is now working on ML3 – which is realistic.
So, we have another SCM tool to put up against, for example, Perforce and Subversion (see our evaluation of those two here – older tools such as CVS and SourceSafe really don't count these days). Plastic comes from an Agile company with some focus on Process and, therefore a probable ability to deliver on its vision.