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The Capability Maturity Model Integration, or CMMI, is a process model that provides a clear definition of what an organization should do to promote behaviors that lead to improved performance. With five “Maturity Levels” or three “Capability Levels,” the CMMI defines the most important elements that are required to build great products, or deliver great services, and wraps them all up in a comprehensive model.
The CMMI helps us understand the answer to the question “how do we know?”
- How do we know what we are good at?
- How do we know if we’re improving?
- How do we know if the process we use is working well?
- How do we know if our requirements change process is useful?
- How do we know if our products are as good as they can be?
The CMMI also helps us identify and achieve measurable business goals, build better products, keep customers happier, and ensure that we are working as efficiently as possible.
CMMI is comprised of a set of “Process Areas.” Each Process Area is intended be adapted to the culture and behaviors of your own company. The CMMI is not a process, it is a book of “whats” not a book of “hows,” and does not define how your company should behave. More accurately, it defines what behaviors need to be defined. In this way, CMMI is a “behavioral model” and well as a “process model.”
Organizations can be “Rated” at a Capability or Maturity Level based on over 300 discreet “Specific” and “Generic” Practices. Intended to be broadly interpreted, the CMMI is not a “Standard” (ala ISO), so achieving a “Level” of CMMI is not a certification, but a “rating.”
The CMMI was developed at the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University with representation from defense, industry, government, and academia, and is now operated and maintained by the CMMI Institute, an operating unit of CMU. It is the successor of the popular Software CMM, or SW-CMM. The are multiple “flavors” of the CMMI, called “Constellations,” that include CMMI for Development (CMMI-DEV), CMMI for Services (CMMI-SVC), and CMMI for Acquisition (CMMI-ACQ). The three Constellations share a core set of sixteen Process Areas. There is also a “People CMM,” or P-CMM, that exists outside of the three CMMI Constellations.
CMMI-DEV commands the largest market share, followed by CMMI-SVC, and then CMMI-ACQ.
The Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPI) is the appraisal method that is employed by a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser to help your team “achieve a level.” There are three different types of appraisals, called “Classes” and they are SCAMPI A, SCAMPI B, or SCAMPI C. The SCAMPI A is the only appraisal method that results in a Maturity or Capability Level Rating. A SCAMPI C is typically used as a gap analysis and data collection tool, and the SCAMPI B is often employed as a User Acceptance or “test” appraisal. The results of a SCAMPI A Appraisal are published on the CMMI Institute Website known as “PARS” and is available for viewing by the public. Only a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser can conduct a SCAMPI A Appraisal.
The CMMI for Development has twenty-two process areas, and the CMMI for Services has twenty-four. The CMMI can be used in either the “staged” or “continuous” representation. The staged representation, which groups process areas into five “maturity levels,” is the most common choice, but an organization can also pick and choose the Process Areas that make the most sense for them to work on by using the “continuous representation.”
There is no difference in content between these two representations. When choosing “Staged” an organization follows a pre-defined pattern of process areas that are organized by “Maturity Level.” When choosing continuous, they pick process areas based on their interest in improving only specific areas. In the Continuous representation, Process Areas are organized by “Category.”
Within the Process Areas in the CMMI, there are multiple “Specific Goals (SGs)” and Specific Practices (SPs).” These practices define the expected behaviors of projects and organizations.
There are also twelve “Generic Practices (GPs)” that provide guidance for organizational excellence including behaviors such as setting expectations, training, measuring quality, monitoring process performance, and evaluating compliance.
CMMI and SCAMPI are registered Servicemarks by Carnegie Mellon University
While every organization is different, it is typical to start your CMMI and performance improvement journey with a gap analysis, or “SCAMPI C” Appraisal. The SCAMPI C will give you a practice-by-practice analysis of the entire scope of CMMI, and a set of observations and recommendations for addressing any weaknesses.
This is often followed by “Introduction to CMMI” training, or other training for key individuals, followed by some level of effort to write, modify, align, adopt, or remove process assets. These organizational assets may include process definitions, templates, work instructions, newsletters, reports, training, policies, methods, tools, and more.
When your team is ready to proceed, one or more formal appraisals are conducted – ultimately culminating in a “SCAMPI A” Appraisal and a successful CMMI Rating!