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 starts with an appraisal process that evaluates three specific areas: process and service development, service establishment and management, and product and service acquisition. It’s 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 it can also create a structure for encouraging productive, efficient behavior throughout the organization.
CMMI Maturity Levels
The CMMI model breaks down organizational maturity into five levels.
Initial: Processes are viewed as unpredictable and reactive. At this stage, “work gets completed but it’s often delayed and over budget.” This is the worst stage a business can find itself in — an unpredictable environment that increases risk and inefficiency.
Managed: There’s a level of project management achieved. Projects are “planned, performed, measured and controlled” at this level, but there are still a lot of issues to address.
Defined: At this stage, organizations are more proactive than reactive. There’s a set of “organization-wide standards” to “provide guidance across projects, programs and portfolios.” Businesses understand their shortcomings, how to address them and what the goal is for improvement.
Quantitatively managed: This stage is more measured and controlled. The organization is working off quantitative data to determine predictable processes that align with stakeholder needs. The business is ahead of risks, with more data-driven insight into process deficiencies.
Optimizing: Here, an organization’s processes are stable and flexible. At this final stage, an organization will be in constant state of improving and responding to changes or other opportunities. The organization is stable, which allows for more “agility and innovation,” in a predictable environment.
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.