Capability Maturity Model
(CMM)

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5 evolutionary stages in managing organizational processes. Explanation of Capability Maturity Model. CMM.

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Capability Maturity Model Integration - CMMI ModelThe Capability Maturity Model of CM-CEI is an organizational model that describes 5 evolutionary stages (levels) in which the processes in an organization are managed.


The thought behind the Capability Maturity Model, originally developed for software development, is that an organization should be able to absorb and carry its software applications. The model also provides specific steps and activities that help to bring an organization from one level to the next.


The 5 stages of the Capability Maturity Model

  1. Initial (processes are ad-hoc, chaotic, or actually few processes are defined)
  2. Repeatable (basic processes are established and there is a level of discipline to stick to these processes)
  3. Defined (all processes are defined, documented, standardized and integrated into each other)
  4. Managed (processes are measured by collecting detailed data on the processes and their quality)
  5. Optimizing (continuous process improvement is adopted and in place by quantitative feedback and from piloting new ideas and technologies)

Software Maturity model

The CMM describes the principles and practices underlying software process maturity. It is intended to help software organizations improve the maturity of their software processes in terms of an evolutionary path. This path goes from ad hoc, chaotic processes, towards mature, disciplined software processes. The focus is on identifying key process areas and the exemplary practices that may comprise a disciplined software process. The maturity framework provided by CMM establishes a context in which:

  • Practices can be repeated. If you don't repeat an activity, there is no reason to improve it. There are policies, procedures and practices, that force the organization to implementing and performing consistently.
  • Best practices can be rapidly transferred across groups. Practices are defined sufficiently to allow for transfer across project boundaries, thus providing some standardization for the organization.
  • Variations in performing best practices are reduced. Quantitative objectives are established for tasks; and measures are established, taken, and maintained to form a base-line from which an assessment is possible.
  • Practices are being continuously improved to enhance capability (optimizing).

The Capability Maturity Model is useful not only for software development, but also for describing evolutionary levels of organizations in general and in order to describe the level of Management that an organization has realized or wants to aim for.


The Structure of the Capability Maturity Model

  • Maturity Levels - A layered framework providing a progression to the discipline, which is needed to achieve continuous improvement. It is important to state here that an organization develops the ability to assess the impact of a new practice, technology, or tool on their activity. Hence it is not a matter of adopting these, rather it is a matter of determining how innovative efforts influence existing practices. This empowers projects, teams, and organizations by giving them the foundation to support reasoned choice.)
  • Key Process Areas - Key process area (KPA) identifies a cluster of related activities that, when performed collectively, achieve a set of goals considered important.
  • Goals - The goals of a key process area summarize the states that must exist for that key process area. The states must be implemented in an effective and lasting way. The extent to which the goals have been accomplished is an indicator of how much capability the organization has established at that maturity level. The goals signify the scope, boundaries, and intent of each key process area.
  • Common Features - Common features include practices that implement and institutionalize a key process area. These five types of common features include: Commitment to Perform, Ability to Perform, Activities Performed, Measurement and Analysis, and Verifying Implementation.
  • Key Practices - The key practices describe the elements of infrastructure and practice that contribute most effectively to the implementation and institutionalization of the key process areas.

Process Definition Criteria

Process Definition Criteria are the set of process elements that must be included in a software process description for it to be usable by the people performing the process. To establish the criteria you are asking the question - "What software process information do I need to document?"

Such process elements are:

  • Purpose - why is a process performed?
  • Input - what work products are used?
  • Output - what work products are produced?
  • Role - who (or what) performs the activities?
  • Activity - what is done?
  • Entry criteria - when (under what circumstances) can processes begin?
  • Exit criteria - when (under what circumstances) can processes be considered complete?
  • Procedure - how are activities implemented?
  • Reviews and audits performed.
  • Work products that are to be managed and controlled (or placed under configuration management).
  • Measurements to be made.
  • Training.
  • Tools.

Book: James R. Persse - Implementing the Capability Maturity Model -

Book: Mary Beth Chrissis - CMMI : Guidelines for Process Integration and Product Improvement -


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Compare with the Capability Maturity Model:  People CMM  |  OPM3  |  Balanced Scorecard  |  Baldrige Award  |  EFQM  |  Change Approaches  |  Organizational Learning  |  Kaizen


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