What is CMMI? A Model for Optimizing Development Processes

TSP • @myTSPnet


The Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is a process and behavioral model for software, product and service development, and helps organizations standardize process improvement and encourages productive, efficient behaviors that reduce risk in development.

Companies can use CMMI to create measurable benchmarks to evaluate performance logistics and create methods that bolster productive and efficient behavior throughout the organization.

CMMI breaks down organizational maturity into five levels. The goal is to reach level 5 or the “optimizing” maturity level. Once a business achieves this level, it continues to maintain a level of maturity and make regular improvements.

  • Maturity Level 0 – Incomplete: For this level work “may or may not get completed.” There are no goals established and processes are partly formed or do not meet the needs of the organization.
  • Maturity Level 1 – Initial: For this level “work gets completed but it’s often delayed and over budget.” Processes are seen as irregular and reactive. This stage represents an unpredictable environment that increases risk and inefficiency and is the worst stage a business can operate in.
  • Maturity Level 2 – Managed: At this level, projects are “planned, performed, measured and controlled”. There is some level of project management accomplished, but there are still problems to fix.
  • Maturity Level 3 – Defined: At this stage, there is a set of “organization-wide standards” to guide projects, programs, and portfolios. Companies now become more proactive than reactive. They recognize their problems, how to fix them, and how they should improve.
  • Maturity Level 4 – Quantitatively managed: At this stage, processes are more measured and controlled. The organization uses quantitative data to determine the optimal ways of aligning with stakeholder needs. The company uses data-driven insight to determine the deficiencies in their procedures which keeps them ahead of risks.
  • Maturity Level 5 – Optimizing: At this level, the company is stable and has more “agility and innovation” in a more predictable setting. Their processes are steady but flexible and as a company, they are always improving and responding to change.

The goal is to reach high maturity and exist in levels 4 and 5. At these stages, businesses are “continuously evolving, adapting and growing to meet the needs of stakeholders and customers.”

Capability levels are used to evaluate an organization's performance and process improvement as it relates to an individual practice area in the model. It can aid in the developing framework for process and performance improvement, with each level building on the previous.

  • Capability Level 0 – Incomplete: In this level, performance is inconsistent and there is an “incomplete approach to meeting the intent of the practice area.”
  • Capability Level 1 – Initial: In this level, businesses begin to address performance issues in certain areas but not on all.
  • Capability Level 2 – Managed: In this level, there is a full set of protocols that address improvements in practice areas. Progress is beginning to be seen.
  • Capability Level 3 – Defined: At this level, there is an attention to the project and organizational performance objectives and there are well-defined standards in place for addressing projects in that practice area.

Certifications are offered through the CMMI Institute and individuals, appraisers, instructors, and practitioners, including:

  • CMMI Associate: This certification demonstrates your commitment and abilities when it comes to capability and performance improvement. It will validate that you have the skills and knowledge to connect the CMMI model to business value and to participate as an Appraisal Team Member (CTM).
  • CMMI Professional: The second level of certification is the CMMI Professional certification.This demonstrates your ability to apply the CMMI model in an organization structure through guides for performance, team coaching, organizational change management and fostering a culture of improvement.
  • Certified CMMI Lead Appraiser: Reaching certified CMMI Lead Appraiser means you will be qualified to appraise organizations to determine their capability or maturity levels. The ISACA Appraiser Application Review committee will evaluate your qualifications for the certification.
  • Certified CMMI Instructor: The Certified CMMI Instructor certification enables you to teach instructional courses on CMMI. To qualify, you will need a sponsoring organization that is an ISACA partner and is licensed to use the CMMI product suite.

Implementing CMMI can enhance performance by standardizing processes, encouraging productive behaviors, and reducing risks. When you utilize the maturity and capability levels, your teams learn how to continuously adapt to meet the needs of the company’s stakeholders while also developing a structure for process and performance measures.  

The goal of CMMI is to create reliable environments and this model helps businesses better serve stakeholders, make continuous improvements, and become more financially stable.

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