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Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is an effective and easier way to scale multiple functions of your business. 

To run a company, control a system, or manage a group, understanding the capabilities is an essential aspect.  

Once you narrow down your business’s different functions, you must assess the performance of all those functions. According to that, you set standards and goals for your business.

So, to measure and control the performance and work progress of each function and individual, entrepreneurs and business leaders need to have a solid solution and capture it.

This way, a company can develop systems that can take the burden of complexities and give the precision that is needed to scale.

This is where CMM comes into the picture.

In this article, I’ll discuss what CMM and CMMI are, their levels, and the differences between them.

Let’s start!

What Is Capability Maturity Model?

The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is a simple methodology that is used to create and refine an organization’s application development process. This enables developers to develop and enhance the software development process, resulting in higher consistency and efficiency. 

Regardless of what role you have been assigned in the development team, familiarizing yourself with CMM can help boost your performance. Thus, you can say CMM is a method that helps evaluate, develop, and improve the software development process.

CMM outlines primary procedures for software development and other princesses that undergo engineering, management, and planning. It assumes that a regular improvement process is achievable via small signs of progress instead of larger breakthroughs. 

In addition, it offers a framework to manage minor signs into various maturity levels in order to provide a platform for continuous improvement of the software development process. Therefore, this methodology acts as the heart of management systems specially designed to enhance the development quality of products and services along with their deliveries. 

CMM was developed and promoted by the SEI (Software Engineering Institute), an R&D centre sponsored by the US DOD. It’s now part of Carnegie Mellon University. SEI was first founded in the year 1984 to address various software issues and advance software methodologies. 

SEI was established to optimize the development, acquisition, and maintenance process of heavily software-reserved systems for the Department of Defense (DOD). It advocates industry-centric adoption of the evolving CMM, i.e., CMM Integration (CMMI).

Why Do You Need CMM?

CMM has many strengths, and the most useful benefit of using this methodology is its time and money-saving capability. This is because the system is perfectly designed to know the defects in the improvement process more efficiently than other models. 

In addition, CMM enhances business processes and also reduces the sudden change in production schedules. Since the CMM was the first model designed to improve the industrial process, it can be the founding stone for other model creations, such as the improved version of CMM (i.e., CMMI), Business Capability Maturity Model (BCMM), and more. 

CMM is quite a flexible model for all processes and markets. No matter what sector you belong to, if you have a development team, members can utilize the model to fix errors in the process.

Five Levels of Maturity In CMM

The five levels of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) in the development process are:

#1. Initial Level

At this level, the processes are not in proper order. It can even be chaotic at times. Here, success depends on the efforts of the individual member and is not considered a repeatable process. This is only because the process is not well documented and defined enough that it can be replicated. 

Processes followed are immature and Adhoc which is an unstable environment for your software development. In addition, there is no basis to predict the quality of the product and its time for completion. 

#2. Repeatable

At this level, the required processes are well-established, documented, and defined. As a result, project management techniques are properly established, and the success might not be replicated in some key process areas. 

The repeatable level can be achieved by establishing some basic policies of project management. Experience in earlier projects is used to manage similar-natured projects. It includes defining required resources, goals, constraints, and more for the project. 

This level presents a detailed plan that needs to be followed properly for the successful completion of quality software. The primary goal is to maintain the performance of the product, such as its component, throughout the software’s lifecycle. 

The repeatable level also includes customer feedback and review management, which can lead to some changes in the set requirement. This requirement management consists of accommodation of the modified requirements. 

Furthermore, subcontract management focuses on the management of qualified contractors for software development. This means it manages some software parts that are developed by third parties. Software quality assurance guarantees a quality software product with certain rules and standard guidelines during the development process. 

#3. Defined

Documentation of the guidelines and procedures takes place at this level. It is a well-defined set of software engineering processes and management. This includes:

  • Peer reviews: In this method, defects are needed to be removed using a variety of reviewing processes like inspections, buddy checks, walkthroughs, etc. 
  • Intergroup coordination: This method consists of interactions between multiple development teams to ensure proper and efficient fulfillment of needs. 
  • Organization process definition: The method focuses on the development and maintenance of software development processes. 
  • Organization process focus: This includes practices and activities that need to be followed to enhance the process capabilities of the organization. 
  • Training programs: Training programs focuses on knowledge and skills enhancement of the team members and ensure an improvement in work efficiency. 

#4. Managed

At this level, quantitative goals are set for the software product quality and software processes of an organization. The measurements made allow the organization to predict the process and product quality within the limits that are defined quantitatively. 

This level includes strategies and plans established to develop and understand quantitative analysis and product quality. It also focuses on managing project performance.

#5. Optimizing

This is the final stage of process maturity in the CMM that focuses only on the continuous improvement of development processes in the organization via quantitative feedback. This is done by using techniques, evaluation, and tools for software processes to prevent the repetition of known defects.

This level includes:

  • Process change management: This management process focuses on the continuous enhancement of the software development processes. This improves quality, cycle time, and productivity for the software product. 
  • Technology change management: It consists of the use of technologies and identification techniques to improve the quality of the product and minimize development time. 
  • Defect prevention: Defect prevention can be done by identifying the cause of defects and preventing those defects from recurring in the next projects. This improves project-defined processes. 

Capability Maturity Model Integration

Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is a simple process model that organizations can use to enhance development processes, boost efficient behaviors, and improve productivity in the workflow while developing a product, service, or project. This results in the reduction of risks throughout the process. 

CMMI was developed and introduced by Carnegie Mellon University. The primary intention of this development is to increase the efficiency and usability of maturity models that can measure an organization’s ability to have an ongoing enhancement in particular areas. This can only happen by integrating multiple models in a single framework. 

The first version was released in 2002, and the next version was released in 2006. In 2010, version 1.3 showed up, and the latest version, 2.0 was launched in 2018, which came with various changes like making it more accessible, effective, etc., for businesses.

CMMI was bought by ISACA (formerly known as Information Systems Audit and Control Association), which owns certifications like the COBIT framework. CMMI is a process and behavioral model that helps organizations throughout the development process of products or services. 

Thus, the objective of CMMI is quite clear. It is used to improve the quality of service or product by following the model that fulfills customer expectations and increases the value of an organization in the market. It also appraises the reputation of your business and the value of stakeholders in the industry. 

The CMMI currently addresses the following areas of interest:

  • CMMI for Development: It’s for developing products and services.
  • CMMI for Services: It’s for service establishment, delivery, and management. 
  • CMMI for Acquisition: It involves the acquisition of products and services.

Representation of CMMI

CMMI representation lets an organization pursue a set of improvement objectives. There are two representations:

Staged Representation

  • It uses a defined set of development process areas to describe the improvement path. 
  • It provides a series of improvements, where every part of the series serves as a structure for the next improvement. 
  • It defines an improved path with the help of maturity levels. And the maturity level tells about the maturity of different processes in the organization. 
  • It allows comparison between different organizations for various maturity levels. 

Continuous Representation

  • It enables the selection of particular process areas. 
  • It uses capability levels to measure the improvement of the individual process. 
  • In addition, it allows comparison between organizations based on the process-area-by-process-area.
  • Continuous representation also allows organizations to choose from different processes for better improvement. 
  • In this representation, organizations can better meet their objectives and reduce risks by selecting the order of improvement of different processes.

Stages in CMMI

There are five maturity stages in CMMI with staged representation: 

#1. Initial: At this level, development processes are poorly controlled or managed. It also involves unpredictable outcomes of the development processes. In addition, chaotic and ad hoc approaches are used. You will not find any defined Key Process Areas (KPAs). The quality is not that good, and the product or services are at the highest risk. 

#2. Managed: At this stage of maturity, requirements are managed properly, and development processes are controlled and planned. Here, the project is properly managed and implemented as per the documented plans. However, the risk still exists but is lower than the initial level. 

#3. Defined: In the defined maturity level, the development processes are well described and characterized using proper procedures, standards, tools, and methods. The quality you will find is of medium grade, and the risk is also medium. 

#4. Quantitatively managed: In this model, the quantitative objectives for quality and performance processes are set. It is based on the organization’s needs, customer requirements, and more. The process performance measures are quantitatively analyzed. Here, you will find higher-quality processes at lower risk. 

#5. Optimizing: This is the last stage of the maturity model that involves continuous improvement in the performance and processes. The improvement in this level is both innovative and incremental. The processes and performances are of higher quality, and the risk is the lowest. 

Capability Levels of CMMI

A capability level tells about the relevant practices for a particular process area to enhance an organization’s processes related to the process area. There are six capability levels for CMMI models:

  • Capability level 0 (Incomplete): It includes incomplete, partial, and not performed processes. At this level, there are no generic goals. 
  • Capability level 1 (Performed): The process performance is not stable at this level. Objectives of cost, schedule, and quality are not met. The level 1 process needs to perform specific practices. 
  • Capability level 2 (Managed): The process is monitored, controlled, and planned at this level. Here, objectives are both model and others like quality, schedule, and cost. The organization needs to manage processes actively with the help of metrics. 
  • Capability level 3 (Defined): It is a defined level where the process is managed well, and it meets a set of organizational guidelines and standards. It focuses on process standardization. 
  • Capability level 4 (Quantitatively managed): Here, the process is controlled using quantitative and statistical techniques. At this level, process performance is understood in metrics and statistical terms. 
  • Capability level 5 (Optimizing): This level focuses on continuous improvement of process performance. Performance is improved in both innovative and incremental ways. 

CMM vs. CMMI: Difference

CMMI is an updated or newer model of CMM. The SEI developed CMMI to standardize and integrate CMM, which has various models for every function it covers. These models are not synced; integrating them makes the process flexible and efficient. 

With respect to key process areas, practices, maturity levels, and goals, the CMMI structure is similar to the CMM structure. However, CMMI offers two different representations of the processes. 

Let’s find out some more differences between CMM and CMMI:

CMM stands for Capability Maturity Model, developed in the year 1984.CMMI stands for Capability Maturity Model Integration, developed in the year 2006.
It is a behavioral model which is developed to measure the software development processes in an organization.It is the updated version of the CMM model that is more task-oriented and effective. 
The primary purpose is to evaluate the maturity levels in the software development process. The primary purpose is to combine different software models into a single software and overcome some CMM drawbacks.
CMM has five stages: Initial, repeat, defined, managed, and optimizedCMMI has five stages: Initial, managed, defined, quantitatively managed, and optimized.
CMM is less effective.CMMI is more effective.
It is too process-oriented.It is goal-oriented.


Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is a problem-solving system for software development processes in industries. This can save businesses from dealing with process problems.

On the other hand, CMMI has an advanced methodology than CMM. It involves fulfilling customer expectations, valuing creation, marketing growth, improving the product and service quality, and enhancing reputation. 

You may also explore Application Lifecycle Management framework that assists in developing and delivering the software on schedule, within budget, and of top quality. 

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  • Amrita Pathak
    Amrita is a senior Technology Content Writer and Copywriter with a keen interest in delving deep into Cybersecurity, AI, ML, Cloud Computing, Web Hosting, Project Management, Software Development, and other topics on evolving technology….

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