cmmi maturity levels

CMMI Maturity Levels: Why Are They So Important?

Whether your productivity is resting comfortably in a profit bearing zone or you are actively looking for bottlenecks and time sinks, process improvement should be a priority within your company. The Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) certification process is all the rage this season, and with good reason. Created and administered through Carnegie Mellon University, CMMI certification is currently required to obtain a growing number of government contracts, especially in the area of software development.

Carnegie Mellon developed CMMI as a process improvement standard on any company scale – across an entire enterprise level corporation, a single division, or only one project. CMMI was originally adopted and brought to prominence by high ranking officials in the US defense sector. Currently, 5000 companies in more than seven countries use CMMI as a standard for process improvement.

What does everybody see in CMMI?

CMMI bases itself on a much more precise hierarchy than most other process improvement standards. It is also internationally accepted. A company that adheres to the maturity levels of CMMI will find itself in much better position to run in a compatible supply chain or partner vendorship. Companies that are looking for international contracts are also being held to certain CMMI certification standards before they are even considered.

For the inevitable problems that slip through even this painstaking standard, Airbrake is ready to wipe the slate clean, but the best route is to clear as much as possible up front.

What are the CMMI Maturity Levels?

To fully understand Maturity Levels, we must first define a Constellation within the CMMI framework. CMMI defines three Constellations – Development, Acquisition and Services – that function as the core of business.

  • Development – Meaning solutions development.
  • Acquisition – Meaning the improvement of solution purchasing.
  • Services – Meaning the improvement of service delivery and service systems creation.

Within these three Constellations, CMMI assigns one of five maturity levels, describing how effective that Constellation is working within the company. The following five maturity levels apply to Acquisition and Services:

  • Initial – A company on this level has unpredictable processes and tends to react to situations instead of proactively seeking effective processes.
  • Managed – Companies on this level are still reactive, but they at least have outlines for projects.
  • Defined – The organization has an overall standard process and is proactive about characterizing project processes from that vision.
  • Quantitatively Managed – All processes within the company, large and small, are controlled and measured.
  • Optimizing – In this stage, the company is running smoothly and fully focused on improving its processes even more.

In the Development Constellation, the second Maturity Level is defined as Repeatable, meaning that the process is something that could be duplicated if necessary. All other Maturity Levels are the same as they are in Acquisition and Services.

Why are CMMI Maturity Levels so important?

CMMI cut its teeth in the world, the United States military. It’s proven approach in that arena expanded quite nicely into the diverse organizations it serves today. Corporations relying on CMMI gain a dramatically improved consistency within their projects, especially in solutions delivery.

Consistency means less money spent on detecting errors, less remediation and less manpower spent reworking old solutions to remove bugs. As a company better defines where it’s manpower will be utilized over an entire process, cost predictability goes up.

Companies that boast high CMMI Maturity Levels are able to quantify their self-improvement metrics, differentiating themselves from local competitors. There is a high B2B market demand for companies with top Maturity Levels. Although these rankings do not translate in the same way to the consumer market, partners and distributors can better discern the capabilities of a business from them and are more likely to choose providers based on those metrics.

Additionally, companies that adopt CMMI by definition must improve over their past product cycles. CMMI is a great way to make sure that staying on the cutting edge is built into a company while maintaining a consistent capability on these new performance levels.

Finally, CMMI defines a standard process framework, helping to ensure that the best practices of your company and industry are not only adopted once, but captured over the long term. Fully adopting CMMI also helps to reduce the impact of employee turnover. Because your processes are embedded within the company rather than within individual employees and skill sets, one monkey won’t stop the show.