Organizations may be ranked at any of the 5 levels defined in the CMMI maturity model and may progress from one level to the upper one by efficiently applying and meeting the goals of the respective upper level’s Process Areas. While most Organizations are at CMMI Level 1, the methodology that we follow positions us at CMMI Level 3.
Maturity Level 1: Initial
At maturity level 1, processes are usually ad hoc and chaotic. The organization usually does not provide a stable environment to support the processes. Success in these organizations depends on the competence and heroics of the people in the organization and not on the use of proven processes. In spite of this chaos, maturity level 1 organizations often produce products and services that work; however, they frequently exceed their budgets and do not meet their schedules.
Maturity level 1 organizations are characterized by a tendency to over commit, abandonment of processes in a time of crisis, and an inability to repeat their successes.
Maturity Level 2: Managed
At maturity level 2, the projects of the organization have ensured that processes are planned and executed in accordance with policy; the projects employ skilled people who have adequate resources to produce controlled outputs; involve relevant stakeholders; are monitored, controlled, and reviewed; and are evaluated for adherence to their process descriptions. The process discipline reflected by maturity level 2 helps to ensure that existing practices are retained during times of stress. When these practices are in place, projects are performed and managed according to their documented plans.
At maturity level 2, the status of the work products and the delivery of services are visible to management at defined points (e.g., at major milestones and at the completion of major tasks). Commitments are established among relevant stakeholders and are revised as needed. Work products are appropriately controlled. The work products and services satisfy their specified process descriptions, standards, and procedures.
Maturity Level 3: Defined
At maturity level 3, processes are well characterized and understood, and are described in standards, procedures, tools, and methods. The organization’s set of standard processes, which is the basis for maturity level 3, is established and improved over time. These standard processes are used to establish consistency across the organization. Projects establish their defined processes by tailoring the organization’s set of standard processes according to tailoring guidelines.
A critical distinction between maturity levels 2 and 3 is the scope of standards, process descriptions, and procedures. At maturity level 2, the standards, process descriptions, and procedures may be quite different in each specific instance of the process (e.g., on a particular project). At maturity level 3, the standards, process descriptions, and procedures for a project are tailored from the organization’s set of standard processes to suit a particular project or organizational unit and therefore are more consistent, except for the differences allowed by the tailoring guidelines.
Another critical distinction is that at maturity level 3, processes are typically described more rigorously than at maturity level 2. A defined process clearly states the purpose, inputs, entry criteria, activities, roles, measures, verification steps, outputs, and exit criteria. At maturity level 3, processes are managed more proactively using an understanding of the interrelationships of the process activities and detailed measures of the process, its work products, and its services.
At maturity level 3, the organization must further mature the maturity level 2 process areas. The generic practices associated with generic goal 3 that were not addressed at maturity level 2 are applied to achieve maturity level 3.
Maturity Level 4: Quantitatively Managed
At maturity level 4, the organization and projects establish quantitative objectives for quality and process performance and use them as criteria in managing processes. Quantitative objectives are based on the needs of the customer, end users, organization, and process implementers. Quality and process performance is understood in statistical terms and is managed throughout the life of the processes [SEI 2001]
For selected subprocesses, detailed measures of process performance are collected and statistically analyzed. Quality and process-performance measures are incorporated into the organization’s measurement repository to support fact-based decision making [McGarry 2000]. Special causes of process variation are identified and, where appropriate, the sources of special causes are corrected to prevent future occurrences.
A critical distinction between maturity levels 3 and 4 is the predictability of process performance. At maturity level 4, the performance of processes is controlled using statistical and other quantitative techniques, and is quantitatively predictable. At maturity level 3, processes are typically only qualitatively predictable.
Maturity Level 5: Optimizing
At maturity level 5, an organization continually improves its processes based on a quantitative understanding of the common causes of variation inherent in processes.
Maturity level 5 focuses on continually improving process performance through incremental and innovative process and technological improvements. Quantitative process improvement objectives for the organization are established, continually revised to reflect changing business objectives, and used as criteria in managing process improvement. The effects of deployed process improvements are measured and evaluated against the quantitative process improvement objectives. Both the defined processes and the organization’s set of standard processes are targets of measurable improvement activities.
A critical distinction between maturity levels 4 and 5 is the type of process variation addressed. At maturity level 4, the organization is concerned with addressing special causes of process variation and providing statistical predictability of the results. Although processes may produce predictable results, the results may be insufficient to achieve the established objectives. At maturity level 5, the organization is concerned with addressing common causes of process variation and changing the process (to shift the mean of the process performance or reduce the inherent process variation experienced) to improve process performance and to achieve the established quantitative process improvement objectives.
CMMI consists of 22 Process Areas, each of which has got its own goals and practices clearly defined. In order for an Organization to be ranked at one specific maturity level, that level’s preset list of Process Areas is required to be efficiently implemented within. Following is the full list of 22 Process Areas with the ones required for CMMI Level 3 highlighted in bold:
• Causal Analysis and Resolution (CAR)
• Configuration Management (CM)
• Decision Analysis and Resolution (DAR)
• Integrated Project Management +IPPD (IPM+IPPD)
• Measurement and Analysis (MA)
• Organizational Innovation and Deployment (OID)
• Organizational Process Definition +IPPD (OPD+IPPD)
• Organizational Process Focus (OPF)
• Organizational Process Performance (OPP)
• Organizational Training (OT)
• Product Integration (PI)
• Project Monitoring and Control (PMC)
• Project Planning (PP)
• Process and Product Quality Assurance (PPQA)
• Quantitative Project Management (QPM)
• Requirements Development (RD)
• Requirements Management (REQM)
• Risk Management (RSKM)
• Supplier Agreement Management (SAM)
• Technical Solution (TS)
• Validation (VAL)
• Verification (VER)