Software Capability Maturity Model (CMM)

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The Capability Maturity Model (CMM)

The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is a framework that lays out five maturity levels for continual process improvement. This framework is integral to most management systems that aim to improve the quality of development and delivery for all products and services.

The Five Maturity Levels

The five maturity levels define a scale for measuring the maturity of an organisation’s software process, and for evaluating and improving the capability of these processes.

The five Software Capability Maturity levels

1. Initial

The software process is characterised as ad hoc, and occasionally even chaotic. Few processes are defined, and success depends on individual effort.

2. Repeatable

Basic project management processes are established to track cost, schedule and functionality. The necessary process discipline is in place to repeat earlier successes on projects with similar applications.

3. Defined

The software process for both management and engineering activities is documented, standardised and integrated into all processes for the organisation. All projects use an approved version of the organisation’s standard software process for developing and maintaining software.

4. Managed

Detailed measures of the software process and product quality are collected. Both the software process and products are quantitatively understood and controlled.

5. Optimising

Continuous process improvement is enabled by quantitative feedback from the process and from piloting innovative ideas and technologies.


The 5 levels of the Software Capability Maturity Model

Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI)

CMMI is the successor to CMM and combines a number of maturity models into one integrated model. Developed by the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, CMMI can be used to guide process improvement across a project, a division, or an entire organisation.

CMMI currently addresses three areas of interest:

  1. Product and service development – CMMI for Development (CMMI-DEV)
  2. Service establishment, management, and delivery – CMMI for Services (CMMI-SVC)
  3. Product and service acquisition – CMMI for Acquisition (CMMI-ACQ)

The Five Levels of the Capability Maturity Model Integrated (Carnegie Mellon 1999)



Key process

1. Initial Individual effort  
2. Repeatable Project management
  • Software Project Planning
  • Software Planning & Oversight
  • Software Subcontract Management
  • Software Quality Management
  • Software Configuration Management
  • Requirements Management
3. Defined Engineering process
  • Organisation Process Focus
  • Organisation Process Definition
  • Peer Reviews
  • Training Programme
  • Intergroup Coordination
  • Software Product Engineering
  • Integrated Software Management

4. Managed

Product & process quality

  • Software Quality Management
  • Quantitative Process Management

5. Optimising

Continual improvement

  • Process Change Management
  • Technology Change Management
  • Defect Prevention

What is the difference between CMMI and CMM?

The difference between CMMI and CMM is that CMMI offers two representations of the maturity of the processes, while CMM only offers one. CMMI has a staged representation with five maturity levels, like the Software CMM, but also has a continuous model where each process area has its own maturity level.

CMMI Appraisal

An organisation cannot be certified in CMMI but can be appraised. With the traditional approach, the organisation establishes an Engineering Process Group and Process Action Teams. These members are trained in CMMI, and an informal appraisal is performed. The process areas are then prioritised for improvement.

Service Capability Maturity Model (CMM)

The original Capability Maturity Model (CMM) was originated to meet the needs of improving and managing the quality of the services in any organisation. Understanding the CMM model is fundamental to any long-term service improvement strategy.

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