Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI)

March 30, 2011

by Eddy Robinson

EE615 April 1, 2011

Capability Maturity Model, CMM, this part seems simple enough. It’s a model describing your corporations level of maturity. But maturity in what respect? Business, technology, age? And what does integration have to do with it? Perhaps we should start with where the CMM came from.


The Capability Maturity Model was first developed by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University as a method for government assessment of software contractors. Watts Humphreys, a Fellow at the SEI, published "Managing the Software Process" in 1989 and described the CMM including five maturity levels with five Key Process Areas (KPA) in each level. (i)

The maturity level described the contractors ability to reliably and sustainably produce required outcomes. These levels are 1) initial, 2) managed, 3) defined, 4) quantitatively managed, and 5) optimizing.

Development of the CMM quickly spread across different industries creating many reference models of matured practices in specific disciplines like Systems Engineering CMM, Software CMM, Software Acquisition CMM, and People CMM, each with differing KPA’s. This led to an alphabet soup with specific guidelines that were difficult to integrate.

SW-CMM – Software CMM

EPIC – Enterprise Process Improvement Collaboration

SE-CMM – Systems Engineering CMM

INCOSE – International Council on Systems Engineering

SECAM – Systems Engineering Capability Assessment Model

EIA/IS – Electronic Industries Alliance Interim Standard

IPD-CMM – Integrated Product Development Capability Maturity Model

Evolution not Revolution

CMMI is the successor of the CMM and evolved as a more matured set of guidelines. It was built combining the best components of individual disciplines of CMM (Software CMM, People CMM, etc) and can be applied to product manufacturing, people management, software development, etc. The aim was to improve the usability of maturity models by integrating many different models into one framework. (ii)


CMMI is a process improvement approach, based on CMM, that helps organizations improve performance. According to the SEI, CMMI helps "integrate traditionally separate organizational functions, set process improvement goals and priorities, provide guidance for quality processes, and provide a point of reference for appraising current processes."(iii)

There are currently three "constellations", or areas of interest: CMMI-DEV, CMMI-SVC, CMMI-ACQ. And there are five maturity levels which are rated based on the capability level of core process areas. The process areas change slightly depending on which constellation you are working in, development, service, or acquisition.

Maturity Levels

1 – Initial Process is unpredictable, poorly controlled and reactive

2 – Managed Process characterized for projects and is often reactive

3 – Defined Process characterized for the organization and is proactive

4 – Quantitatively Managed Process measured and controlled

5 – Optimizing Focus on continuous process improvement

Capability Levels (CL)

0 – Incomplete Either not performed or partially performed

1 – Performed Baby step, you are doing something but can’t prove it’s working

2 – Managed Planned, performed, monitored, and controlled

3 – Defined Managed process tailored to guidelines contributing work products, measures, and other process improvement information to the organizational process assets

4 – Quantitatively Managed Defined process that is controlled using statistical and other quantitative techniques

5 – Optimizing Quantitatively managed process that is continuously improved

There are 22 core processes defined for CMMI-DEV. Whenever the following seven processes; CM, MA, PMC, PP, PPQA, REQM, and SAM, reach CL5, the organization is considered CMMI level 2. Whenever 11 more of them; DAR, IPM, OPD, OPF, OT, PI, RD, RSKM, TS, VAL, and VER reach CL5, then the organization is considered CMMI level 3. Two more, OPP and QPM take you to CMMI level 4. And finally two more, CAR, and OPM, and your organization reaches CMMI level 5. CMMI-SVC has 24 core processes defined and CMMI-ACQ has 22.

So what does all this mean? Maturity levels refer to a whole organizations level of competence whereas Capability level refers to the competence level of a given process. Organizations execute many processes every day and the CMMI gives management a way of ranking the capability of core processes and entire organizations while laying out a roadmap for which processes to improve first.


In EE615 we have been learning about Business Process Modeling and re engineering. CMMI can be used as a guide to process improvement across a project, division, or an entire organization. (iv) As applied to business processes think about it this way; how can you chart a path to where you want to go if you don’t know where you currently are? CMMI gives you the tools to find out where you currently are and in the discovery process, lays out the road map for how to move to the next step.

(i) Wikipedia –

(ii) Tutorials Point –

(iii) Wikipedia –

(iv) SEI at Carnegie Mellon –


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