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Pros and Cons of the CMMI Model

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In the world of software development, CCMI is a well-known acronym that is synonymous with performance improvement. 

Yet CMMI is a model that has been applied to more than just software, this same framework can be used for business process improvement and improving the improvement of the organization itself.


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Below, we’ll learn how CMMI can significantly enhance business performance, software performance, and help organizations stay relevant both now and in the next normal.

What Is CMMI?

CMMI is short for Capability Maturity Model Integration.

This model was developed at Carnegie Mellon University at the request of certain government agencies, such as the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The purpose of CMMI is to:

  • Improve the usefulness of existing maturity models, in part by integrating those models into a single framework
  • Integrate multiple sets of business functions and processes under a single model
  • Help organizations improve their product and service development and management

The original emphasis of CMMI was on software development – and, in fact, using the CMMI was a requirement for many software companies that worked with the government.

Today, however, CMMI has evolved and takes a more general approach to business performance improvement.

Components of CMMI

CMMI measures the maturity of business processes according to the following scale:

  • Initial. This is the first and lowest level of the maturity scale, where processes are often unstructured, ad hoc, unpredictable, and inefficient.
  • Managed. The second level is viewed as “reactive” and processes are still immature.
  • Defined. At the third stage, businesses have begun to take a more proactive approach to defining and managing business processes.
  • Quantitatively managed. During the fourth stage, businesses have begun to adopt a data-driven approach to business process improvement.
  • Optimizing. The last, most mature stage refers to a level where processes are clearly defined, quantitatively assessed, and undergoing continual improvement.

These maturity levels are further broken down into processes, or practices, such as:

  • Configuration Management
  • Supplier Agreement Management
  • Service Delivery
  • Work Monitoring and Control
  • Organizational Process Performance
  • Causal Analysis

In CMMI 1.3, each of these areas was known as a process area, while in CMMI 2.0, they are called practice areas.

Fundamentally, these two versions of the model are built upon the same ideas, though CMMI has been adapted modern business trends and ideas, such as agile thinking.

CMMI Appraisals

A CMMI appraisal is the process by which an organization can assess its own maturity level.

There are several types of appraisals:

  • Benchmark appraisals are in-depth appraisals that are designed to help organizations identify opportunities for growth and improvement
  • Sustainment appraisals are designed to be performed after a benchmark appraisal and to assess how well the company as achieved a specific maturity level
  • Action plan appraisals are performed after one of the previous two appraisals indicates a shortcoming
  • Evaluation appraisals are customized for the situation at hand and designed to help organizations plan for future appraisals and/or gain insight into its general CMMI level

Appraisals are typically performed by CMMI Certified Lead Appraisers.

Pros and Cons of the CMMI Model

There are several benefits to using CMMI in business.

These include:

  • Greater insights into existing business processes. Having a business framework, such as CMMI, ITIL, COBIT, TOGAF, or one of countless others that have been professionally developed, can provide significant insights into organizational performance. One of the main benefits of this is that business professionals can clearly define the capabilities and processes they need to succeed.
  • An understanding of what works, what doesn’t, and how to make improvements. Another key benefit of using a process such as CMMI is that these frameworks make it easier to clarify expectations, set goals, and measure progress.
  • Detailed assessments of individual business practices and processes. Appraisals, as mentioned above, are an excellent way to benchmark one’s own progress and create a roadmap for future action. 

As with any other business process, however, the CMMI is not without its downsides and considerations. 

For instance:

  • CMMI may not meet security standards for some businesses. CMMI doesn’t take into account certain requirements that some organizations may have. Cybersecurity and data security, for instance, may be important or even mandatory for some companies, and CMMI pays little attention to these issues. That being said, there are supplementary materials that have been created specifically for security purposes.
  • CMMI is not universally relevant to all organizations. Not every organization is at the same stage of growth and not every organization has the same priorities as those covered in CMMI. Organizational structures may differ, non-profits may have different aims than private organizations, and so forth. 
  • CMMI may not be compatible with other business frameworks and processes. In some cases, different frameworks are compatible – ITIL and COBIT, for instance, can work together. However, in other cases, business models perform the same function, which would bring them into conflict if they were both used. In this case, it would be necessary to choose between CMMI and its alternatives.

All things considered, for organizations looking to improve their operations and their performance, CMMI can be a very useful tool, though one’s own circumstances should be assessed carefully beforehand.

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