March 27, 2012

What is CMMI?
Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is a process improvement approach whose goal is to help an organization improve their performance (from Wiki). It provides guidance for improving the organization’s processes and the ability to manage the development, acquisition, and maintenance of products or services.
CMMI was developed by the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute (SEI). The main sponsors included the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the National Defense Industrial Association.

CMMI is different from ISO-9001. It shows the maturity of the process that is being followed by the organization. It goes beyond process documentation. CMMI implementration will be more costly than ISO implemetation

What can CMMI do for us?
There are different answers for different people. For project managers, CMMI can improve their project management capabilities, to deliver quality projects on time and within budget. For salesmen, CMMI can help them to judge an organization’s implementation capacity, thus ensuring their purchase correctly and smoothly. For CEOs, CMMI can enhance the whole organization’s management level.
Overall, CMMI can help us improve the project quality, and decrease the cost of quality and the risks.

CMMI representation
CMMI has two different representation ways: continuous and staged. Different representation way’s level represents a different content. The continuous representation is a way to measure the project capacity of an organization. It is easy to reach a high CMMI level because the organizations can pick up the project by themselves to assess. It merely means that the organization has reached a certain level in the certain project or similar projects capacity.
The staged representation is mainly a measure of the maturity of the organization, that is, the comprehensive strength of the project capacity. CMMI appraiser can pick up any projects or any parts of a project in the organization to assess. Stage representation is difficult to reach a high level. Although the CMMI is represented in different ways, its substance is exactly the same, is a way to two different means of representation.

Maturity levels
There are five maturity levels.
Lv1.Initial. Processes unpredictable.
The lowest possible CMMI level means an organization has some successful projects, depends on the heroism of a few key players, but may not be able to repeat their past successes. There is no predictability in schedule, budget, scope or quality, no formal or very poor planning process. Management and engineering is weak.

Lv2.Managed. Processes characterized for projects and is often reactive.
Project management processes are planned, performed, measured, and controlled: the organization will prepare resources, arrange right persons to right positions and train related staffs when the project starts; measure and control all phases in the project; examine the project and all processes, and all issues in a project are recorded.

Lv3.Defined. Processes characterized for the organization and is proactive.
The processes and its interpretation are not only managed, but also get institutionalized. The organization ensures that individual projects get success.
In reference to CMMI, Level 3 contains the maximum number of process areas that need to be addressed.

Lv4.Quantitatively Managed. Processes measured and controlled.
Digital management. Use statistical tools to manage the projects and processes, data and pictures are from Lv3.
The organization delivers its projects with high quality and stability.

Lv5.Optimizing. Focus on process improvement.
The highest CMMI level provides the highest quality and the lowest risk. The organization analyzes the quantitative data from the projects and applies it to refining the processes for the future. This level represents an introspective approach to quantitative project management, combined with a continuous improvement objective.

Higher levels are the cornerstone of lower levels, no level can be skipped. The higher maturity level, the higher quality, the lower risk.

By Min Sun

1) SEI Web pages


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