APL Colloquium

February 25, 2000

Colloquium Topic: Attaining Level 5 in the Capability Maturity Model

In November 1998 the CSC SEAS Center achieved the rating of CMM Level 5 and became only the sixth organization in the world to have ever attained that goal. The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is a worldwide recognized benchmark of process maturity for software organizations and is used by potential clients to assess the quality of an organization¹s software process. The SEAS Center comprised approximately 750 personnel supporting systems engineering, software development, and analysis for NASA. During the years of continually improving the processes toward the goal of attaining the level 5 rating, detailed information was recorded, tracked and analyzed so that subsequent efforts by other CSC organizations could benefit from the experiences of SEAS. The experiences recorded included: 1) Cost, time and effort required to attain varying levels of maturity. 2) Major concepts of improvement. 3) Which process elements were the most difficult to address, and why. 4) Roles and responsibilities of various staff and organizations. 5) What was the impact of improved process maturity on the software products? 6) What are the most critical lessons that any organization could leverage? This presentation will address the key factors that resulted in the success of SEAS attaining the Level 5 rating. The presentation will address the 7 key points that describe the success factors along with cost, schedules, approaches, and most importantly value of the effort as measured by the end product being generated.

Colloquium Speaker: Frank E. McGarry

Mr. Frank E. McGarry is a Senior Member of the Executive Staff at Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). He joined CSC in 1994 and is responsible for leading the overall software process activities for the SEAS Center which comprises approximately 1000 CSC staff supporting NASA/Goddard. Before joining CSC, Mr. McGarry spent his entire professional career at NASA/Goddard where he most recently had been the Head of the Software Engineering Branch, responsible for the software development and analysis of all flight dynamics systems for Goddard flight projects. He had directed the implementation of over 75 major software systems which successfully supported approximately 40 NASA flight missions. In 1976, Mr. McGarry initiated efforts to create a software research facility within NASA/Goddard for the purpose of studying and advancing state-of-the-art techniques for software and systems development. This facility, called the Software Engineering Laboratory (SEL), grew into an internationally recognized research facility combining the talents of NASA/Goddard, the University of Maryland, and Computer Sciences Corporation. The SEL has carried out over 100 major software experiments resulting in many advances in the overall understanding and 'engineering' of the software development process. These studies resulted in the generation of specific techniques, models and automated tools for software development and management at NASA/Goddard as well as other software intensive organizations. In 1994, the SEL was named the winner of the Oremier award for 'Software Process Achievement' offered jointly by IEEE and the Software Engineering Institute (SEI). Currently, Mr. McGarry is responsible for expanding the concepts and benefits of the SEL process improvement approaches to a broader spectrum within CSC and its affiliates.