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 “Practice Areas.” Each Practice 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 as much a “behavioral model” as it is a “process model.”
Organizations can be “Rated” at a Capability or Maturity Level based on over 180 discreet 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 ISACA. It is the successor of the popular Software CMM, or SW-CMM. There are predefined “views” of the CMMI that include CMMI Development (CMMI-DEV), CMMI Services (CMMI-SVC), and CMMI Supplier Management (CMMI-SPM). The predefined views share a core set of seventeen Practice Areas. There is also a set of practices that exist outside the predefined views focused on areas virtual solution delivery, safety, and security.
CMMI-DEV commands the largest market share, followed by CMMI-SVC, and then CMMI-SPM.
The CMMI Appraisal Method supporting the CMMI V2.0® model is the appraisal method that is employed by a Certified Lead Appraiser to help your team “achieve a level.” There are three different types of appraisals, including Benchmark, Sustainment, and Action Plan Reappraisal (APR). These are the only types of appraisals that are authorized to generate a Maturity or Capability Level Rating. Another type of appraisal is called the Evaluation Appraisal. The Evaluation Appraisal is typically used as a gap analysis and data collection tool. In addition, it can be employed as a User Acceptance or “test” appraisal. The results of the Benchmark, Sustainment, and APR are published on the CMMI Institute Website known as “PARS” and is available for viewing by the public. Only a Certified Lead Appraiser can conduct an appraisal to generate a Maturity or Capability Level Rating.
The CMMI Development has twenty practice areas, and the CMMI Services has twenty-two. The predefined views in CMMI can be used to achieve a maturity level (most common choice) or a capability level. A capability level can also be achieved using a selection of PAs or Capability Areas (CAs). A Capability Area is a grouping of related PAs. When pursuing a capability level, the selection of PAs and CAs should depend on the organization’s goals.
Within the Practice Areas of the CMMI model are multiple “Practices”. Each practice has an associated intent, value, and required information These practices define the expected behaviors of projects and organizations.
CMMI is a registered Servicemarked by ISACA
While every organization is different, it is typical to start your CMMI and performance improvement journey with a gap analysis, or “Evaluation-C” Appraisal. The Evaluation-C Appraisal 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 “Foundations of Capability” 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 “Benchmark” Appraisal and a successful CMMI Rating!