Saturday, November 3, 2007

CMMI for testing

There was an article in the September issue of Evaluation Engineering about CMMI ("Capability Maturity Model Integration"). I flagged it for future reading and just had a chance to finish it today.

I flagged this article because I have experience with the CMMI. The division I worked in at HP/Agilent years ago was classed at CMM level 2, and I worked in a couple of projects aimed at moving the department to level 3. I called it "CMM" instead of "CMMI" because back then the older nomenclature was in use. Working in a project group that adhered to those standards, which was very enjoyable and a great learning experience (we used Rational Rose for the heavy lifting, before it was bought by IBM). Testing, and specifically software testing, has a very specific role to fill within such models, and it's significance is not underrated.

In general the article is a cogent overview of the CMMI and how it is applied. It also makes a good point that test engineers involved in creating software - especially for more complicated projects involving multiple people - should learn how to apply the model and use tools associated with it. Many test engineers for hardware testing do NOT have a software background, and don't necessarily have exposure to best practices for programming. But believe me, the CMMI is worth using.

Of course, the author is from NI so I expected some marketing and was not disappointed. The author discussed how NI Requirements Gateway can be used to implement the CMMI, and he also referenced NI programs like LabVIEW and TestStand extensively. But this didn't really bother me - he works for NI and that's his job. Evaluation Engineering has free access, so I expect a modest amount of bias.

No, what really bugged me is that right at the beginning of the article he called the CMMI "Component maturity model integration" instead of "Capability maturity model integration." If you're going to write about something, please get the acronym right. In the engineering world there are way too many acronyms and abbreviations, and doing something like this confuses the issue further.

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