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7.1 What is CMMI?

Many problems that are encountered during ITS project development –budget overruns, schedule slips, excessive change orders, and disappointed stakeholders – are a direct result of the process that is used to develop the project.  The systems engineering process that is defined in this guidebook can address these problems, but the process must be documented and used in a systematic, scalable way on each ITS project to reap the benefits over time.

Of course, the importance of process is not unique to ITS.  A long-established premise in manufacturing based on the Total Quality Management principles taught by Shewart, Demming and Juran is that the quality of any product is largely determined by the quality of the process that is used to acquire, develop, and maintain it.  Broad-based support for this premise is evident in the increasing worldwide focus on quality standards and process improvement models such as ISO 9000 and the Capabilities Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI).   Working harder is not the answer; harnessing proven processes to work smarter is the answer.

For many agencies, the first step in process improvement is to understand and document the ITS project development process that is already in use.  Once processes are documented, the process capability of the organization can be measured and improved over time.  Process improvement for ITS projects poses unique challenges since the systems engineering processes that are defined in this guidebook must be documented and used within the broader context of well-established processes that are used by all transportation agencies for traditional transportation projects.

Processes can make the difference.  Without processes, there is random motion, lots of energy, but not much progress, a reliance on individual effort, frequent conflict, and you never know where you will end up.  With good processes, there is directed motion - every step brings you closer to the goal.  Coordinated efforts.  Cooperation. and Predictable Results.

Figure 7 ‑1 The Promise of Process Improvement


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