CMMI has two models which can be adopted by any organization which is looking to improve its processes. At a very basic level, CMMI is nothing but implementation a bunch of “practices” that are necessary to achieve high level of maturity and capability. These practices are grouped together into “Process Area” where each process area consists of a set of related practices. Each process area further belongs to four main threads and these are:
Depending on what your business goals are, you can opt for a continuous or staged representation.
Continuous representation of CMMI is used by organizations that want to improve aspects of the organization that are most critical for their business needs. Within an IT organization context, if you think that “Time to Market” is most critical to your business, then automatically you will only want to improve the processes that directly impact the time of market. These will fall within the Project Management thread only. Thus, continuous representation of CMMI is ideal for you as it gives the flexibility of doing this.
Another thing that continuous representation allows you to do , is that it allows you to mature different processes with a thread at different rates. So, if your organization is releasing “buggy” software then you may think that you want to improve only upon Process and Project Quality Assurance (PPQA), Verification (VER) and Validation (VAL) process areas.
It a newer approach and this representation does not leads to a certification. Rather than having a organization maturity level, each process area has a capability level from 0-5, where 0 stands for “Incomplete” & 5 stands for “Optimizing”. Thus, the same organization can demonstrate capability level 3 in Project Planning (PP) and Capability level 1 or 0 in Supplier Agreement Management (SAM).
Continuous model is mainly used for IT departments within non IT organizations rather than IT companies. A necessary precondition for an organization to choose this model, is that they should be aware of the processes and should be sure about what they want to improve.
While continuous representation improves capability of specific processes within the organization, staged representation matures the organization as a whole. It a proven path that an organization can adapt in order to incrementally improve itself.
This representation divides the process improvement effort into five distinct maturity levels (i.e. from 1 through 5) where each level has some predefined process area which an organization will need to implement. Process areas within a lower level forms the foundation of process area at a higher level. Thus a maturity level 3 means that the organization implements all process areas within Level 3 and the capability level of processes within Level 2 has also been increased to Level 3.
Staged representation has been designed after collecting data from various organization and it has a demonstrated returns on investments. The best thing about staged representation is that it provides the organization with a sort of map which can guide them through process improvement.
We have selected the staged model as our road map for process improvement with a target to acquire a maturity level 3.