Capability Maturity Model (CMM) broadly refers to a process improvement approach that is based on a process model. CMM also refers specifically to the first such model, developed by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) in the mid-1980s, as well as the family of process models that followed. A process model is a structured collection of practices that describe the characteristics of effective processes; the practices included are those proven by experience to be effective.
CMM can be used to assess an organization against a scale of five process maturity levels. Each level ranks the organization according to its standardization of processes in the subject area being assessed. The subject areas can be as diverse as software engineering, systems engineering, project management, risk management, system acquisition, information technology (IT) services and personnel management.
CMM was developed by the SEI at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. It has been used extensively for avionics software and government projects, in North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, and Africa.Currently, some government departments require software development contract organization to achieve and operate at a level 3 standard.
The Capability Maturity Model was initially funded by military research. The United States Air Force funded a study at the Carnegie-Mellon Software Engineering Institute to create a model (abstract) for the military to use as an objective evaluation of software subcontractors. The result was the Capability Maturity Model, published as Managing the Software Process in 1989. The CMM is no longer supported by the SEI and has been superseded by the more comprehensive Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI).
The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is a way to develop and refine an organization’s processes. The first CMM was for the purpose of developing and refining software development processes. A maturity model is a structured collection of elements that describe characteristics of effective processes. A maturity model provides:
A maturity model can be used as a benchmark for assessing different organizations for equivalent comparison. It describes the maturity of the company based upon the project the company is dealing with and the clients.
In the 1970s, technological improvements made computers more widespread, flexible, and inexpensive. Organizations began to adopt more and more computerized information systems and the field of software development grew significantly. This led to an increased demand for developers—and managers—which was satisfied with less experienced professionals.
Unfortunately, the influx of growth caused growing pains; project failure became more commonplace not only because the field of computer science was still in its infancy, but also because projects became more ambitious in scale and complexity. In response, individuals such as Edward Yourdon, Larry Constantine, Gerald Weinberg, Tom DeMarco, and David Parnas published articles and books with research results in an attempt to professionalize the software development process.
Watts Humphrey’s Capability Maturity Model (CMM) was described in the book Managing the Software Process (1989). The CMM as conceived by Watts Humphrey was based on the earlier work of Phil Crosby. Active development of the model by the SEI began in 1986.
The CMM was originally intended as a tool to evaluate the ability of government contractors to perform a contracted software project. Though it comes from the area of software development, it can be, has been, and continues to be widely applied as a general model of the maturity of processes in IS/IT (and other) organizations.
The model identifies five levels of process maturity for an organisation. Within each of these maturity levels are KPAs (Key Process Areas) which characterise that level, and for each KPA there are five definitions identified:
The KPAs are not necessarily unique to CMM, representing – as they do – the stages that organizations must go through on the way to becoming mature.
The assessment is supposed to be led by an authorised lead assessor. One way in which companies are supposed to use the model is first to assess their maturity level and then form a specific plan to get to the next level. Skipping levels is not allowed.
Although these models have proved useful to many organizations, the use of multiple models has been problematic. Further, applying multiple models that are not integrated within and across an organization is costly in terms of training, appraisals, and improvement activities. The CMM Integration project was formed to sort out the problem of using multiple CMMs. The CMMI Product Team’s mission was to combine three source models:
- The Capability Maturity Model for Software (SW-CMM) v2.0 draft C
- The Systems Engineering Capability Model (SECM)
- The Integrated Product Development Capability Maturity Model (IPD-CMM) v0.98
- Supplier sourcing
CMMI is the designated successor of the three source models. The SEI has released a policy to sunset the Software CMM and previous versions of the CMMI. The same can be said for the SECM and the IPD-CMM; these models were superseded by CMMI.
With the release of the CMMI Version 1.2 Product Suite, the existing CMMI has been renamed the CMMI for Development (CMMI-DEV), V1.2. Two other versions are being developed, one for Services, and the other for Acquisitions.
In some cases, CMM can be combined with other methodologies. It is commonly used in conjunction with the ISO 9001 standard, as well as with the computer programming methodologies of Extreme Programming (XP), and Six Sigma.
Levels of the CMM
There are five levels of the CMM:
The most beneficial elements of CMM Level 2 and 3:
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