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What is CMMI?



What is CMMI? CMMI, the Capability Maturity Model Integrated, is a reference model to benchmark maturity of development activities and development organizations against. It has been developed and is maintained by the SEI, the Software Engineering Institute at the Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, U.S.A. The original driver for this reference model was the aim of the Department of Defense of the USA to control maturity of products delivered by their supplier in the 1980s. The CMMI in its current version V1.2 is divided into 22 process areas addressing e.g. requirements engineering, project management or organizational, quantitative process performance management. For each of the process areas goals are defined to be achieved for a certain maturity and practices supporting achievement of the goals are described. Maturity within the CMMI is mostly expressed in a level for a group of process areas. CMMI levels range from level 2, called managed, up to level 5, called optimizing. The CMMI describes on a „What“-level practices in an organization to be addressed and executed in relation to a certain level of maturity (e.g. knowledge and skills for requirements management must be available, resources are required for project management or structured approaches are required for configuration audits before releases). The „How“-level is up to the local implementation of the organization, which has chosen the CMMI as a reference model. Furthermore the CMMI focuses on supporting the development of products in a mature way („Doing things right“). Choosing the best products for business („Doing the right things“) is a different discipline.  In companies starting deployment of CMMI it is often perceived as being bureaucratic due to the fact that achieving a certain CMMI level is addressed as a goal in itself and achievement is coupled to bonus programs. But using the contents of the CMMI as basis for continuous improvements of the development maturity, it offers a broad basis of best practices as experienced across a wide range of companies and industries since years around the world.

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