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Ilanet.SA-CMMr1.1 - 11 Aug 2018 - 18:05 - GregorioIvanoff

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Applying the Software Acquisition Capability Maturity Model

Dr. Matthew J. Fisher, Software Engineering Institute

Wolfhart B. Goethert, Software Engineering Institute

Dr. Lawrence G. Jones, Software Engineering Institute

Using poor management processes to acquire software can hold back the best software development processes. The Software Acquisition Capability Maturity Model® (SA-CMM®) was developed to help improve software acquisition processes so that organizations are better able to achieve acquisition goals. This article describes principles that helped successfully apply the SA-CMM and shares some lessons learned from successful and less successful SA-CMM-based improvement programs.


Government and industry are recognizing the need to improve the maturity of their software acquisition management processes. Unstable acquisition processes can impact a supplier's software development processes and result in substandard products. The Software Acquisition Capability Maturity Model® (SA-CMM®) was developed to help improve the acquirer's ability to manage such acquisitions by providing a mechanism to discipline the acquirer's software acquisition processes.

Organizations have used the SA-CMM not only to instill discipline in their software acquisition processes, but also in their general acquisition processes. This is possible because of the flexibility and adaptability of the SA-CMM for each organization's unique business needs. In this paper, we explore the features of the SA-CMM that support this flexibility and provide some lessons learned in applying the model to several different organizations' process improvement efforts.


What Is the SA-CMM?

Capability maturity models are collections of features that reflect effective processes and practices for various disciplines. The first capability maturity model, the Software Capability Maturity Model® (SW-CMM®), was created by the SEI to help organizations improve their software development processes. The SA-CMM was created to help organizations improve their acquisition processes.

There are other capability maturity models for personnel management and for systems engineering. The ongoing Capability Maturity Model Integration SM (CMMISM) effort is an attempt to combine several of these disciplines under one framework. The CMMI model variant that partially includes the acquisition discipline has a product development perspective with acquisition seen as supporting the development.

The SA-CMM has been and is focused on software acquisition and management of the acquisition rather than development. Once the CMMI fully embraces the concepts and principles of the SA-CMM, it would be expected that the SA-CMM would be retired three years after. For now, the SA-CMM provides the comprehensive software acquisition focus.


Keywords: model-based systems engineering

-- GregorioIvanoff - 26 Jan 2004
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