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The Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is a process and behavioral model that helps organizations streamline process improvement and encourage productive, efficient behaviors that decrease risks in software, product, and service development.
The CMMI was developed by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University as a process improvement tool for projects, divisions, or organizations. The DoD and U.S. Government helped develop the CMMI, which is a common requirement for DoD and U.S. Government software development contracts. The CMMI is currently administered by the CMMI Institute, which was purchased by the ISACA in 2016.
The CMMI is designed to help improve performance by providing businesses with everything they need to consistently develop better products and services. But the CMMI is more than a process model; it’s also a behavioral model. Businesses can use the CMMI to tackle the logistics of improving performance by developing measurable benchmarks, but CMMI can also help create a structure for encouraging productive, efficient behavior throughout the organization.
The CMMI was developed to combine multiple business maturity models into one framework. It was born from the Software CMM model developed between 1987 and 1997. CMMI Version 1.1 was released in 2002, followed by Version 1.2 in 2006, and Version 1.3 in 2010; V1.3 was replaced by V2.0 in March 2018.
In its first iteration as the Software CMM, the model was tailored to software engineering. Following versions of the CMMI became more abstract and generalized, allowing it to be applied to hardware, software, and service development across every industry. With the release of V2.0, the process has been streamlined — the CMMI previously addressed three areas of interest, including product and service development, service establishment, and product and service acquisition, but they have all been merged into one standalone model.
Every iteration of the CMMI aims to be easier for businesses to understand and use than the last, and each model is designed to be more cost-effective and easier to integrate or deploy. It encourages businesses to focus on quality over quantity by establishing benchmarks for vetting vendors and suppliers, identifying and resolving process issues, minimizing risk and building a corporate culture that will support the CMMI model.
The CMMI model breaks down organizational maturity into five levels. For businesses that embrace CMMI, the goal is to raise the organization up to Level 5, the “optimizing” maturity level. Once businesses reach this level, they aren’t done with the CMMI. Instead, they focus on maintenance and regular improvements.
CMMI’s Maturity Levels are:
Once organizations hit Levels 4 and 5, they are considered high maturity, where they are “continuously evolving, adapting and growing to meet the needs of stakeholders and customers.” That is the goal of the CMMI: To create reliable environments, where products, services and departments are proactive, efficient and productive.
For a deeper look, see “CMMI Maturity Levels: A guide to optimizing development processes.”
The CMMI also has capability levels that are used to appraise an organization’s performance and process improvement as it applies to an individual practice area outlined in the CMMI model. It can help bring structure to process and performance improvement and each level builds on the last, similar to the maturity levels for appraising an organization.
The capability levels are:
The latest version of the CMMI, Version 2.0, focuses more heavily on performance and how performance impacts business and how to understand an organization’s performance needs. There’s information on how to establish performance goals and then track those goals to make sure they’re achieved at all levels of business maturity.
Version 2.0 also integrates better with agile and Scrum processes, with a focus on safety and security. If you already have an agile practice in place, the CMMI V2.0 will help you work around or improve established processes that already work for your business. The CMMI V2.0 also aims to lower the overall cost of appraisals and shorten the time it takes to appraise and organization. The CMMI V2.0 also cut back on the amount of technical knowledge included, so it’s easier for those outside of the tech industry to read and understand. There’s also an online platform where users can build and design a model that suits the organization’s specific needs.
The CMMI Institute also included more information on how to demonstrate ROI, so leaders can get other executives on board. Performance benchmarks and goals outlined in the CMMI can help businesses ensure all projects and processes are cost-effective or profitable. The latest version is also easier to deploy throughout an organization with less technical language and updated user-friendly and customizable online platforms and tools that will provide guidance for adopting CMMI or transitioning to V2.0 from V1.3. It’s also available in several translated languages.
CMMI certifications are offered directly through the CMMI Institute, which certifies individuals, appraisers, instructors, and practitioners.
The CMMI Institute offers the following certifications:
For more on CMMI certifications, see “CMMI certifications: A complete guide.”
The CMMI Institute authorizes third-party organizations to sell CMMI tools and services, the list of approved vendors is extensive, and you can search by product, location, and language on the CMMI Institute website. 
The type of CMMI tools that will work best for your organization will depend on your business’s needs. Following the CMMI, you’ll identify the best tools during Maturity Level 2 or 3; at this point, your CMMI consultant will offer recommendations or help you design customized tools based off extensive research. The most common category of tools that you’ll need to consider includes:
More on project management:
Sarah White is a senior writer for CIO.com, covering IT careers, hiring & staffing, and diversity.
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Published On: March 13, 2022 / Categories: Uncategorized /

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