CMM and Project Management – Procurement Management

This Key Process Area (KPA) is called Software Subcontract Management by CMM/CMMI but it aligns with the Procurement Management knowledge area of the PMBOK®. The objective is to select vendors who are best able to meet the projects needs in terms of work, product, and budget. Keep in mind that while the PMBOK® paints Procurement Management activities with a broad brush in order to cover all industries, CMM/CMMI are only interested in activities that pertain to software subcontractors, or software vendors. The Procurement Management plan must cover any procurement. As with the other KPAs, Software Subcontract Management is organized into goals, commitments, abilities, activities, measurements, and verifications.


The 4 goals of this KPA are:

  1. Qualified software subcontractors are selected by the project manager. This goal is supported in full by the Conduct Procurements process.
  2. The customer and subcontractor agree to their commitments to each other. The contract for the delivery of goods and/or services for consideration is the agreement. The contract (procurement contract award) is the output of the conduct procurements process.
  3. The customer and subcontractor maintain ongoing communications. There is nothing in the Procurement Management processes which specifically addresses this goal; however the scheduling of regular review meetings, such as performance reviews will meet this goal.
  4. The customer tracks the software subcontractor’s results against commitments. Work performance information, performance reports, and performance reviews are all inputs of the administer procurements process and serve to track results against commitments.

Commitment to Perform

There are 2 commitments: that the project follows a written organizational policy for managing the software subcontractor and that a subcontract manager is designated to be responsible for establishing and managing the software contract. The policy is the responsibility of the organization subcontracting the work and you, or someone you assign to the role, is the subcontract manager. Your Procurement Management plan is not an organizational policy but will take the place of one for the project you are managing.

Ability to Perform

You will demonstrate an ability to perform the activities called for by your plan by assigning adequate resources and funding to the job of selecting and managing the subcontractor. You are the first resource assigned to the project and any organizational policies, standards, vendor lists, and your Procurement Management plan are also resources. Any managers or other individuals that you assign to the work of selecting or managing the subcontractor must be adequately trained in that work and given orientation on the technical aspects of the contract. Your Human Resources Management plan will describe how this is done. Resources assigned to your project by outside organizations such as a Procurement group should be trained by that group.

Activities Performed

  1. Define and plan the work according to the documented procedure and the subcontracted work is described in a Statement of Work (SOW), which is derived from the project SOW. The documented procedure in this case will be your Procurement Management plan. The detailed activities include make or buy decisions, and choosing vendor selection criteria. The SOW should also be reviewed and agree to by resources working on subcontractor selection and management.
  2. Select the subcontractor based on their ability to perform the work in accordance with a documented procedure. This is the Conduct Procurements process described in your Procurement Management plan.
  3. The contract between the customer and the subcontractor is used to manage the subcontract. This activity includes the specification of the work products the subcontractor must deliver, criteria they must meet, how changes will be made, acceptance criteria, and how subcontractor performance will be monitored. This is all standard stuff covered off in the Conduct Procurements and Administer Procurements processes.
  4. The customer reviews and approves the software subcontractor’s development plan. This will be a deliverable covered in the SOW and the approval process and conditions for approval will also be described there.
  5. The subcontractor’s plan is used to track the subcontractor’s activities. The tracking should be done at status review meetings you conduct with the subcontractor’s project manager.
  6. Changes to the subcontractor’s SOW and contract are decided upon according to a documented procedure. This procedure will be the Contract Change Control System described in the Administer Procurements process.
  7. The customer conducts periodic status/coordination reviews with the subcontractor’s management. These are called Procurement Performance Reviews by the PMBOK® and are part of the Administer Procurements process. These should be spelled out in the SOW and should be held at scheduled intervals (e.g. once a week) to review the status of the subcontractor’s project. This activity goes on to specify that deviations from the plan are addressed and that conflicts are addressed. Corrective actions are part of the subcontractor PM’s responsibilities. Deviations not addressed by that PM would result in conflict and conflicts are resolved by the Claims Administration tool described in Administer Procurements. The best way of meeting these needs is to ensure that the subcontractor’s PM manages your project in accordance with project management best practices (which call for corrective action to be taken when results deviate from the plan). You also should ensure that the PM maintains an action register or issue log to capture any issues you have with the project.
  8. Periodic technical reviews are held with the subcontractor. This activity verifies that the product being produced meets your needs and any quality targets set for it. This activity is described in the Administer Procurements process as Inspections and Audits. Interpret this to mean reviews of Functional Specifications and Detail Design Documents produced by the subcontractor where the requirements captured in your Business Requirements Document are translated into functions, and code.
  9. Formal reviews of the subcontractor’s work products are conducted at selected milestones. These formal reviews are what I refer to as Gate Review meetings conducted at key milestones throughout the project. The subcontractor may have their own Gate Review meetings with you as a key stakeholder, or your Gate Review meetings may be sufficient on their own. In either case the deliverables planned for the completed sub-project phase should be reviewed for completeness and plans, resources, risks, etc. of the upcoming sub-project phase should also be reviewed.
  10. The customer’s Software Quality Assurance group (SQA) monitors the subcontractor’s SQA activities according to a documented procedure. This is beyond the scope of your project, unless your project is also implementing an SQA group and processes. Your project can contribute to the activity by ensuring that the contract, SOW, and your Quality Management plan specify the SQA activities required of the subcontractor and performing audits to ensure those activities are done.
  11. Your Configuration Management group monitors the configuration activities of the subcontractor. The SOW used to define the subcontractor’s responsibilities should include CM activities and these should also be captured in the subcontractor’s project plans. Reviews and audits need to include verification that the subcontractor performs their CM activities as per their plans.
  12. You should conduct acceptance testing of the subcontractor’s deliverables according to a documented procedure. Inspections of deliverables such as specifications, designs, and code should be governed by the Administer Procurements process in your plan. These should include testing of the software (User Acceptance Testing).
  13. The subcontractor’s performance is evaluated periodically and the evaluation reviewed with the subcontractor. This is described in the Tools & Techniques section of the Administer Procurements process (Procurement Performance Reviews).

Measurement and Analysis

There is only one measurement: measurements are taken and used to determine the status of the Procurement Management activities. These measurements are taken as part of the oversight of the project management activities of the overall project. They will be provided for in your project plans.

Verifying Implementation

Your Procurement Management activities should be reviewed with senior management periodically. This can happen at Gate Review meetings and/or at Steering Committee meetings, and meetings with your sponsor. If you are managing a project and have a project manager reporting to you on a software sub-project, you need to meet with them periodically to review their procurement management activities. This could be part of the agenda for weekly status review meetings, or require meetings specifically for the purpose. Finally, the SQA group must review and/or audit the tools and activities used for Procurement Management. This will only be possible if your organization has an SQA group. Without an SQA group, your organization may have a PMO or PMC in which case that group would be responsible for oversight of all areas of project management, including procurement management, and would conduct project audits.

There is very little that a project manager who adheres to the project management best practices described in the PMBOK® would or could to do to meet the criteria for the Software Subcontract Management KPA. The one thing outside of the influence of the project manager is the establishment of a Software Quality Assurance group. This group is also essential to the Software Quality Assurance KPA. There is no better way that I know of to demonstrate a grasp of project management best practices than certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP®). Project managers who meet PMI®’s criteria can attain the certification by taking a PMP® course or similar PMP® exam preparation training and then writing the certification exam.

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