CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) has been around for 32+ years and is a proven collection of engineering, management, service and improvement practices.
The two primary models that organizations use are:
- Development (CMMI-DEV)
- Services (CMMI-SVC)
The DEV model is used for development of systems, products, IT solutions and software. It has a worldwide adoption covering numerous types of organizations, including:
- Software engineering (application and embedded development).
- IT solutions.
- Hardware engineering (electrical, mechanical and electronics development).
- Systems engineering (software and hardware combinations).
Which project lifecycle does CMMI suggest?
CMMI does not state which lifecycle should be used. Organizations can use the practices in many different types of workflows, including, Agile/Scrum, Kanban, iterative, sequential and hybrid versions (see Figure 2).
Figure 2 — Practices packaged in different lifecycles
The SVC model is also used globally and has a wider variety of business types. Our own experience includes:
- Scientists performing experiments under contract
- IT resource pool management
- IT data center management
- Accounting services
What do people get out of CMMI?
When CMMI is implemented at Level 2, projects work like clockwork. When organizations move to Level 3, the organization works like clockwork. Work is planned, schedules are achievable, communication occurs, risks are mitigated, defects are found early, and solutions work. Any process that is broken is fixed, and best practices are shared.
- Have a one-stop place for a complete set of practices that can be repackaged into the work flow they want (e.g., Agile, sequential, or a hybrid).
- Provide a roadmap so that practices can be adopted incrementally to mature the organization over time.
- Find errors and assess risks early so that less time is spent on surprises and rework later. An organization at Maturity Level 3 typically has a rework rate of between 5 and 10 percent of the project effort (compared to 40-90 percent at Level 1).
- Use the practices to enable teams and work to stay organized so that more work can be achieved with less stress. At Level 3, projects typically meet deadlines within 5-15% of the original budget without chronic overtime.
- Obtain an appraisal that leads to a recognized public rating (which is optional) to demonstrate capability. (See example published ratings over the last three years.)
Doing CMMI correctly
CMMI, like all frameworks, models and methods, is whatever you make of it. It can be messed up royally, and it can be done brilliantly. The best organizations:
- Make their processes one or two pages in length that can be read and implemented in real-time, and many practices are grouped into one process (e.g., Agile planning and tracking, or requirements elicitation and management).
- Make their documentation concise and useful. They imbed it in their work flow tools so that it can be easily found, shared and edited (e.g., plans, requirements, design, and test cases).
- Consistently refine and reengineer practice implementations to fit their changing needs.
CMMI great organizations vs. CMMI challenged
- Focus on results vs. documentation.
- Focus on intent vs. compliance.
- Focus on improving performance vs. CMMI Level ratings.
- Focus on using practices to address ongoing challenges vs. minimal implementation.
It doesn’t matter, really, what source of practices you use, whether, CMMI, Wikipedia, or a book. What matters is that new practices are used intelligently to run the business, either to address a problem, mitigate a risk, or maintain a gain.
Additional resources you might like
New CMMI and appraisal versions are coming
There is a new version of CMMI coming, called CMMI v2.0 (also called Nextgen). It is a lighter read, and some practices have moved around to change their emphasis and ease of implementation. It comes with a new appraisal method. Both will be available March 2018, and organizations will be able to appraise with them in January 2019. However, don’t wait, just start with the current version and improve your performance.
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