Making the Philippines CMM Self-Sufficient
[August 23, 2002] The Philippines was able to make a great impression in the DCI IT Outsourcing Conference last October 2001 showing our decisiveness in becoming an outsourcing location of choice especially in call centers and business process outsourcing.
However, in the software development field, I was able to hear talks from speakers such as EDS, Xerox, among others explaining why they opted for India more than any other country for their software development outsourcing. That is due to their CMM certification credential. Out of 37 CMM Level 5 companies in the world, 28 of them are based in India.
The SEI Capability Maturity Model® for Software (SW-CMM) describes a framework that organizations can use to determine their ability to develop and maintain software; it is a model for organizational improvement. The SW-CMM is based on the process management work of W. Edwards Deming, Joseph M. Juran, and Phillip B. Crosby, and can be applied by organizations to improve their software process through a software process assessment. The SW-CMM also can be applied to software vendors via contractor evaluation.
Certification is normally done in the presence of someone from Carnegie Mellon University – Software Engineering Institute who would play the Lead assessor role. This person would form an evaluation or assessment team with key people from the organization and conduct the assessment.
Over 80 countries had ongoing CMM-related activities but most of them lacked lead assessors. The United States, France, UK, India, Japan, Australia, Sweden and Thailand are countries that are self-sufficient in CMM assessment, certification, and training.
It is a known fact that the Philippines software development industry is way behind compared to India than how it was 10 years ago. We must get its act together if we still desire to catch up with the big players, get more than just maintenance and small projects.
For CMM to be advocated and grow in this country, the government, NGOs, and private sector must take the lead and put matters in their own hands in order for the industry to grow. Getting government support is a natural option but it is something that can”t be solely relied upon. With so many programs struggling for prioritization in the agency budget, getting the necessary resources is not easy.
Among other things, CMM certification should help software companies here to compete more effectively and to stand a better chance to get business in the international market.
Last year, during our participation in the APEC Young Leaders Conference, we met an officer from the Software Park Thailand (SPT). After few months of e-mail negotiations with the help of Floyd Piedad from Philippine Scandinavia IT Services, we agreed in conducting the 1st Introduction to CMM training program in the Philippines through SPT last December 10 to 12, 2001. With great thanks to the kind hearts of Ateneo Continuing Education Center and Porter and Miles, we were able to proceed with the training. The SPT training program is accredited by Carnegie Melon University.
Last April, a non-accredited CMM training program was conducted through the Ateneo Information Technology Institute with the Philippines’ only SEI-CMM certified lead assessor, Joselyn Capistrano.
I started conducting the said course as well through the Department of Science and Technology”s Virtual Center for Technology Innovation in Information Technology this August 2002 in Cebu (in partnership with COSPO) and Davao (in partnership with ASID).
The Thailand government is subsidizing their CMM training and certification program to the point they can offer it for only 8000 bhat to their citizens. If not for their friendly policy, the 1st CMM training program in the country was offered for only US$600 dollars. The training would cost US$3000 if taken in the US, excluding transportation and lodging. The 2nd training was offered for US$500 dollars. Both programs had 15 and 13 attendees. The ones offered in Cebu and Davao were far more cheaper as it is done in partnership with non-government organizations.
The Challenge and Opportunity
However, the challenge of becoming CMM self-sufficient is not on the training aspect but getting the companies certified. At present, CMM certification is deemed expensive but known as essential for an organization’s growth.
For a 20-man company, an assessment can take up to 7 days while a more than 30-man software company would take 15 to 30 days. A CMM assessor/trainor professional fee would cost US$1500 per day.
If a grant can be furnished, it can specifically focused on getting companies certified and have potential lead assessors trained.
To select the recipient of the grant, a minimal fee can be charged which can be used for baseline assessment taking from 3 to 5 days. Those who will pass the baseline assessment can be considered as recipients of the grant and undergo formal assessment (7 to 15 days).
Companies who wanted to benefit from the grant should agree to the following:
- Undergo baseline assessment shouldering the expense.
- If qualified for the grant, the company must be willing to have the assessor bring in two recognized assessor trainees (by the grant-giving body) during the evaluation process. The assessors are fully aware that the details of the assessment are considered as confidential and can’t be disclosed without proper consent.
- If the company passed the assessment, the assessor’s fee shall be reimbursed by the grant body.
- The company should also agree to give testimony to the effectiveness of the grant program.
The grant should also address the need to develop CMM lead assessors in the country. The trainee lead assessors must have been able to attend an accredited SEI-CMM Introduction to CMM training. Once selected, the trainees must agree to the following:
- Participate in two assessments with minimal allowance per day. (US$100 each)
- Be sponsored to attend the CMM Lead Assessor program in the US. Training cost will be shouldered by the grant. Hotel and airfare by the trainee.
- Conduct a CMM assessment with a CMM lead observer who will certify if the CMM trainee qualifies as an assessor.
- If the trainee qualifies as an assessor, it must agree to conduct two CMM assessments under the grant body at trainee rates.
- Should the trainee pursue in becoming a CMM instructor. He or she can be sponsored to attend the CMM Trainor program in the US. Training cost will be shouldered by the grant. Hotel and airfare by the trainee.
- Conduct a CMM training with a CMM lead observer who will certify if the CMM trainee qualifies as a trainor.
- If the trainee qualifies as a trainor, it must agree to conduct two CMM training under the grant body at trainee rates.
I first wrote this paper in November 2001 and thought of putting this out now to gather more support. At present, negotiations are being made to facilitate the infusion of a grant for this project. I hope and pray that things will come our way and help the country become CMM self-sufficient much sooner.