Many organizations today do little themselves in the way of development, maintenance, production, or services. These are often outsourced to an outside organization: either to an outside provider or to another organization within their corporate or governmental structure, but which is not under their direct supervision. For example, a development organization may define the requirements for the software components of a system, but subcontract for the design, development, and production to an outside contractor. Or, a telecom company may outsource customer service to another company. Whether this works out well depends a great deal on the process used to define what the supplier should do, the preparation of the RFP/RFQ/RFT, the source selection process, and the management of the resultant contract.

The same is true for capital acquisition programs. Whether an organization is acquiring products or services primarily through outsourcing or acquiring capital equipment, the same principles apply. The requirements for the acquisition must be defined, and this includes not only the functional and performance requirements, but also the non-technical requirements, such as industry standards or government regulations. A procurement package must be developed, i.e., a request for proposal, quote, or tenders (RFP/RFQ/RFT). It should be peer reviewed to ensure that the package is correct. Qualified vendors or subcontractors must be determined for the pending acquisition to ensure that a qualified vendor is selected. Proposals, quotations, or tenders must be evaluated by qualified reviewers. Criteria must be established for the evaluation of the proposal, quote, or tenders. And finally, the resultant contract must be properly managed by the procuring organization. Best practices that characterize how this is all performed effectively and efficiently are contained in the Software Engineering Institute's (SEI) Capability Maturity Model Integration for Acquisition (CMMI-ACQ).

A process appraisal is a catalyst for initiating meaningful process improvement that can help your organization establish and maintain effective acquisition processes. It will allow you to establish and focus a process improvement program that will result in:

  • Better quality in acquired products or services
  • Lower acquisition costs
  • Reduced cycle time


    An acquisition process appraisal is an objective evaluation of an organization's acquisition capability. We utilize the Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPI) methodology. It is based on the SEI's widely-accepted model for acquisition process improvement: the CMMI-ACQ, which characterizes how an organization matures, or improves, in its ability to acquire products and services (see figure) and serves as a framework for helping an organization become more effective in their acquisition practices.

    The appraisal is structured to ensure that aspects of the acquisition process that are unique to your organization or industry are addressed. For example, an appraisal in an organization that acquires equipment for delivery to a customer in a government-regulated industry might require more rigorous practices than one which acquires equipment for internal use only. The appraisal methodology takes that into account.

    We conduct an appraisal as a collaborative effort, involving your organization's professionals in all appraisal activities so that all participants gain a common understanding of the current state-of-the- process and reach consensus on the critical process issues.

    After conducting training in the CMMI-ACQ and the appraisal methodology, we will lead your appraisal team through an intense period of fact-finding, analysis and review of issues, and presentation of findings to senior management and participants.

    SECI consultants are certified SCAMPI Lead Appraisers and have been providing SEI appraisal services since 1990. The assessments are performed through an affiliated company, Process Strategies, Inc., an SEI Partner organization.


    At the completion of an appraisal, you will have:

  • Objective findings that identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current acquisition process.
  • A profile of the current process relative to the CMMI-ACQ.
  • An SEI maturity level rating.
  • A sound basis for developing a strategic improvement plan.

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