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Capability Maturity Model

In last decade, industry started realizing the importance of formal software engineering process for the better software, may be due to the fact that more than 75% of the software projects fail. Software Engineering Institute (SEI) proposed different models for this purpose. Personal Software Process (PSP), Team Software Process (TSP), Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and CMM-Integration are few; that have attained industry attention. Many of us, being part of this business, should understand these models, they are result of years of research, and we can improve software development life style using these.


The following was reproduced from a software engineering book for our company’s internal document repository. I found it informative and have re-arranged it for this post. I am hoping that everyone will like this introduction.


Please note, the text is being reproduced for learning purposes only. I should not be liable for any copyright/intellectual property/legal/ethical issues. You should consult the original author/publisher. I am not able to find the exact reference at this moment, if required, it can be provided. If anyone has any problem, please contact me using this web-site, I will be glad to remove this.



Capability Maturity Model




The products are developed and services are delivered by human beings, and the process within a given organization depends on the individuals working in that organization. If those individuals are ethical, hard working, intelligent, sensible and up to date, then the chances are good that the process within that organization will be satisfactory. Unfortunately the converse is equally true.


The term maturity is a measure of the goodness of the process itself. The Capability Maturity Models are a related group of strategies for improving the processes, e.g. SW-CMM is the maturity model for software development and P-CMM is for human resource management. P-CMM targets issues related with staffing, managing performance, training, compensation, work environment, career development, organizational and individual competence, mentoring and coaching and team and culture development. National Science Foundation of US funded P-CMM research at University of Massachusetts. There is even CMMI for a single integrated framework for the maturity.


While going through these models, we should have a clear understandings that these models are not made over-night, these are the result of research conducted for years and these are finalized and approved by many scholars, research centers and organizations. These models thus can serve the base-line specifications for other organizations that need to mature their capabilities and processes.


The other thing that we should bear in mind is that improvements in the processes cannot occur over-night, these models in general induces change incrementally. This is the reason that different levels of the maturity are defined and an organization advances slowly in a series of small evolutionary steps towards the higher levels of the process maturity. To grasp the maturity level, one of the CMM model’s levels are described, though this applies to all others part of the organizations.


Maturity Level 1, Initial Level


At this, the lowest level, essentially no sound management practices are in place in the organization. Instead, everything is done on an ad-hoc basis. A specific project that happens to be staffed by a competent manager and a good team may be successful. However the usual pattern is time and cost overruns caused by a lack of sound management in general and planning in particular. As a result, most activities are responses to crises rather than preplanned task. In level 1 organizations, the process is unpredictable, because it depends totally on the current staff; as the staff changes, so does the processes. As a consequence, it’s impossible to predict with any accuracy such important items as the time it will take to develop a product or the cost of that product.


Maturity Level 2, Repeatable Level


At this level, basic management practices are in place. Planning and management techniques are based on experience with similar products and services; hence the name repeatable. At level 2, measurements are taken, an essential first step in achieving an adequate process. Typical measurements include the careful tracking of costs and schedules. Instead of functioning in crises mode as in level 1, managers identify problems as they arise and take immediate corrective action to prevent them from becoming crises. They key point in that, without measurements, it’s impossible to detect problems before they get out of hand. Also measurements, taken during one project can be used to draw up realistic duration and cost schedules for future projects and services.


Maturity Level 3, Defined Level


At level 3, the process is fully documented. Both the managerial and technical aspects of the processes are clearly defined and continual efforts are made to improve the process wherever possible. Reviews are used to achieve quality. At this level, it makes sense to introduce new technology such as Computer Aided Automations to increase quality and productivity further. In contrast, “high tech” only makes the crises-driven level 1 process even more chaotic.


Maturity Level 4, Managed Level


A level 4 organization sets quality and productivity goals for each project. These two quantities are measured continually and corrective action is taken when there are unacceptable deviations from the goal. Statistical quality controls are in place to enable management to distinguish a random deviation from a meaningful violation of quality or productivity standards.


Maturity Level 5, Optimizing Level.


The goal of a level 5 organization is continuous process improvement. Statistical quality and process control techniques are used to guide the organization. The knowledge gained from each project is utilized in future project. The process this incorporates a positive feedback loop, resulting in a steady improvement in productivity and quality.


Final Words


Although a number of organizations have attached maturity level 2 and 3, few have reached levels 4 or 5. Different case studies has shown that advancing  complete maturity level usually takes from 18 months to 3 years, but moving from level 1 to level 2 can sometimes take 3 or even 5 years. This is a reflection of how difficult it is to instill a methodical approach in an organization that up to now has functioned on a purely ad hoc and reactive basis.




·         Essence of the Capability Maturity Model by J. Bamberger, IEEE 1997

·         The Road to Maturity: Navigating between Craft and Science by C. Ebert, T. Matsubara, M. Pezze and O.W. Bertelsen, IEEE 1997

·         CMM: Guidelines for Improving the Software Process by M. C. Paulk, C. V. Weber, B. Curtis and M. B. Chrissis, Addison Wesley 1995

·         There is a Silver Bullet by B. J. Cox Byte 1990

·         Out of Crises by W. E. Deming, MIT Centre for advance engineering 1986


Published Tuesday, October 26, 2004 11:55 PM by khurram
Filed under:


# re: Capability Maturity Model

Wednesday, October 27, 2004 9:12 AM by Khurram Shehz
That was indeed a good article - The same things can be found in our SE-II book (Pressman) but reading this at the academic level does not make that much sence as reading this when you have a couple of years of experience.

Nice work Khurram (Y).

Raja Khurram Shehzad
Software Engineer
Arwen Technologies (Pvt.) Limited


# re: Capability Maturity Model

Wednesday, October 27, 2004 8:03 PM by Khurram Iqbal
Thanks allot Khurram fot sharing an excellent article with us. ?I really apprecite you effort. This article gave me a comprehensive information about the CMM Levels. Thanks again

Regards/Khurram Iqbal

# re: Capability Maturity Model

Thursday, October 28, 2004 2:18 AM by
WOW!! SO this what is CMM!
I remember in my first interview The guy asked me what is CMM and I replied it as "It is a measuring technique that how good is a software house" seem very close but today after reading this I now understand why he not contacted me for appointment :D

I also have a question in this reguard that who assign these levels? I don't think these are assigned by the software house itself or assigned by clients they mosly not satisfied! :S
But still Thanks alot Khurram Keep them Coming!!

# re: Capability Maturity Model

Thursday, October 28, 2004 2:30 AM by Asad MahmoodT
Hope to see same kind of stuff on PSP & TSP. IT was good ... technical comments will follow

# re: Capability Maturity Model

Thursday, October 28, 2004 8:31 AM by Syed Aziz ur
Good going Khurrum. It is nice to see such effort.

# re: Capability Maturity Model

Thursday, October 28, 2004 10:39 AM by
Thats really a nice article and very much fruitful and brief.keep it up, so ur knowledge could benefit others too.
With regards

# Capability Maturity Model - Part 2

Thursday, October 28, 2004 11:38 AM by TrackBack

# Personal Software Process

Thursday, October 28, 2004 7:51 PM by TrackBack

# re: Capability Maturity Model

Friday, October 29, 2004 6:36 PM by AZEEM SAJJADT
Thats great effort Khurram. It's always really very usefull informations from yourside. God Bless You!

# re: Capability Maturity Model

Sunday, October 31, 2004 2:37 AM by imran ahmedTr
Now I know what CMM really is...
A good and concise work, I must say... but if you would explain it in some detail it will be great...
Hope you will elaborate it a little for me and others :o)
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