CMMI – Capability and Maturity Model Integration

Many organizations try to improve their quality and productivity by establishing a company-wide process improvement program. These programs often result in large amounts of process documentation which eventually becomes a burden or is ignored completely. In many cases, the organization is left with very little benefit to show for its efforts.

Organizations often struggle with delivering consistent quality internally as well as externally. Not only their customers but their employees and other stakeholders too are victims of these inconsistencies.

Following are few of the indicators of this experience –

  • With every new transaction with the organization, the customers gets a different experience in terms of the documentation quality, product / service quality, delivery quality, support quality, etc.
  • Employees often struggle with finding work products to use within the product or service delivery each time there is a new instance.
  • Newer employees have a larger learning curve since most processes are run by individuals that are not available in time for the knowledge transfer to these new recruits.
  • Processes keep on changing with every new project that the organization has taken up.
  • Requirements change in the middle of a project creating unforeseen workload for the project team members.

These are few of the many scenarios that indicates that the organization seriously is in need of a process improvement drive.

Software Engineering Institute has formulated a model for driving such improvement efforts within a product company or a service provider or an acquirer of services of other companies – CMMI for Services (CMMI-SVC), CMMI for development (CMMI-DEV) and CMMI for Acquisition (CMMI-ACQ)

What Is CMMI?

CMMI model integrates Software, Systems, Integrated Process and Product Development, and Supplier Sources into a coherent model. This model helps integrate conventionally separate organizational functions, set process improvement goals and priorities, provide guidance for quality processes and provide a point of reference for appraising current processes. By implementing CMMI, organization understands its process performance by measuring the improvement quantitatively.

CMMI is one of the time  tested process improvement  model implemented in  organizations to establish standardized processes, achieve consistency across teams and achieve repeatable performance.

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.

Is There Any Certification With CMMI?

The word “certification” does not exist with respect to CMMI models. CMMI models are used by organizations to develop and improve processes. CMMI assessments / appraisals are performed to find process improvement opportunities. Through this formal assessment/ appraisal, the appraisal teams rate an organization’s maturity, capability or capability maturity levels. This rating is a reflection of the state of the processes but in no way is the rating treated as a certification.

What Are The Benefits Of Going For CMMI?

Implementing a disciplined process in an organization improves the organization’s control over the execution of projects, meets the stiff project deadlines and quality levels. CMMI models assist an organization in developing and institutionalizing efficient and effective processes. A well developed and followed process increases the ability to meet project goals and improve profitability. The benefits associated with CMMI models are: improved productivity, quality, and increase in cycle time thus improving the customer satisfaction, meeting business objectives, improvement in business and growth. A well-established CMMI program acts as a catalytic business model for an organization.

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. It 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 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.”

What Is The Benefit To Senior Management From CMMI Model Implementation?

In a low mature organization, the visibility of the processes followed by projects to the senior management is low. Senior management should able to visualize inputs and outputs from projects. With CMMI model implementation, the process framework creates good metrics based the review mechanism system. With CMMI model implementation, senior management is able to get minute details using good derived metrics at regular intervals. Management spends less time, gets a better picture and makes the right decisions at the right time so projects are successful.

Advantages of Implementing CMMI practices

The process implementing is simpler in certain enterprises. The appropriate plan for process improvement projects is done, the implementation of the practices in CMMI model are more efficient. They require very less time and resources.

The following are the advantages –

  1. The implementing challenges are highly influenced by the size of the organization and the extent of institutionalization.
  2. These practices are efficient and flexible. The reason behind it is, the processes have not been hardened over time.
  3. It is more efficient and flexible to communicate information and receiving it.

Organizations can be “Rated” at a Capability or Maturity Level based on “Specific” and “Generic” Practices prescribed in CMMI.  Intended to be broadly interpreted, the CMMI is not a “Standard” (unlike ISO), so achieving a “Level” of CMMI is not a certification, but a “rating.”

CMMI has enormous importance as a quality system in the systems and software industry, and can be considered the de facto standard in this area. Nevertheless, CMMI can be applied to different areas, such as systems engineering, hardware, etc.


This post was written by Suraj Mulay

Suraj has over seven years of training, consulting and auditing experience (ISO, ITIL, COBIT, CMMI, SSAE16, PCI DSS, PMP, PRINCE2) while working with organizations in Information and Communications Technology, banking and financial institutions, automobile, manufacturing, construction and power utility company. He can be contacted on