The Department of Trade and Industry will be investing almost R1.5 million rand in the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) programme being run by the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering at Wits University (JCSE). 

Yusuf Timol, director: electrotechnical at the DTI’s Trade and Investment South Africa (Tisa), says the aim of the investment is to help make the South African software development community more competitive on a global scale.
On its international trade missions, Timol says the DTI found that CMMI had become a global standard and has been incorporated into tenders to assist overseas companies in mitigating risk when choosing suppliers.
“When offering a multi-million dollar tender, companies want to know that the company they award the tender to is capable of completing the project. CMMI provides a benchmark to evaluate suppliers, with most large tenders requiring CMMI level four or five.
“While a country like India has over 70 CMMI level five companies, South Africa does not have one as yet and is lagging a good two to three years behind the rest of the world in this regard,” he says.
In order to help the local software development industry become competitive on a global scale, the DTI realised that South Africa has to come into line with international standards, Timol says.
“The challenge for South Africa companies in meeting that international standard is that the CMMI process was very expensive as staff members had to be flown overseas to receive training or CMMI consultants had to be flown out to South Africa.”
The first step was therefore to make CMMI available locally – which will be done by the JCSE, Timol says. Delegates to the local course also receive a SEI certificate on satisfactory completion.
Professor Barry Dwolatzky, academic director of the JCSE, says that a pilot CMMI adoption programme is being run with a number of selected local organisations, including Sita, First National Bank (FNB), Psybergate, Wits University’s Computing Services, IBM and Nedbank.
“The money from the DTI will go towards the training costs of the JCSE staff that will present CMMI training, consulting and assessment services locally. The 'Introduction to CMMI' course is now being run on a monthly basis,” he says.
The JCSE has to date run two introduction courses which have mostly been attended by employees of the organisations on the CMMI pilot. “However, any company interested in getting a CMMI accreditation can send their employees on the course,” Dwolatzky says.
Now that the companies on the pilot have done the introductory course, the JCSE staff will be assisting them in preparing for a formal CMMI appraisal over the next twelve to eighteen months, which will rate them on one of the five levels of maturity. These appraisals will be carried out by the JCSE using South African trainers accredited by the SEI.