CMMI – 5 Levels of Maturity

CMMI Level 1
Level 1 is an immature state. The software process is characterized as ad hoc, and occasionally even chaotic. Few processes are defined, and success depends on individual effort. Here there is no objective basis for judging product quality or for solving product or process problems. Therefore product quality is difficult to predict. Activities intended to enhance quality such as reviews and testing are often curtailed or eliminated when projects fall behind schedule. Below points are the characteristics of this level.

  • The processes within the organization are highly unstable and unpredictable
  • During crisis, all the processes and procedures are either abandoned or skipped
  • The projects are purely person dependant. i.e., when the persons involved leave the project or the company, things come to a halt. Also, the performance depends on the capabilities of the individuals rather then the organizational capability.
  • Even if some processes remain, they are constantly changed or modified as the work progresses. (i.e…, the process is ad hoc).
  • There are no process areas at Level 1. Level 1 is just a denotation of ad-hoc behavior.

CMMI Level 2
Level 2 in CMM Integrated – Managed Level. Managed, as the word means, the project management is defined at this level. Basic project management principles are established to track cost, schedule and functionality. The necessary process discipline is in place to repeat earlier success on projects. An effective process can be characterized as practiced, documented, enforced, trained, measured, and able to improve. Projects in Level 2 organizations have installed basic software management controls. Some of the important points are:

  • Realistic project commitments are based on the results observed on previous projects and on the requirements of the current project.
  • The project managers for a project track software costs, schedules, defects and functionality; problems in meeting commitments are identified when they arise.
  • The project’s process is under the effective control of a project management system, following realistic plans based on the performance of previous projects.
  • Level 2 has seven process areas. Each process area has certain goals which need to be met by the organization.

CMMI Level 3
Level 3 which is The Defined Level, looks at building engineering processes and organizational level processes using the strong base set at Level 2. Level 3 is, when an organization will have processes for Requirements gathering (Test Requirements Gathering), Design & Build (Strategize and Prepare Test Cases / Scripts), Reviews, Testing (Execute Test Cases / Scripts) etc, defined at organization level. Information and artifacts of previous projects is available for re-use within the organization through mechanisms of knowledge sharing.

There are 13 process areas in Level 3 of CMMI. Apart from engineering processes and organizational level processes, there are a few process areas focused on certain critical aspects like risk management, decision making, team work etc..

CMMI Level 4
Level 4 in CMMI is a very critical step. It is called “Quantitatively Managed” level. At this level, the organization has achieved all the goals of PAs in Level 2, 3 and 4. They key attribute of Level 4 is sub process performance. The selected sub processes are controlled using statistical and other quantitative techniques

At Level 4, process and project management happens through Quantitative techniques. Quantitative objectives are based on the needs of the client, end users, organization and process improvement. Quality and process performances are understood in statistical terms and are managed throughout the life of the processes.For the various processes, measures of process performance are collected and statistically analyzed. Special Causes of process performance are identified and corrected to prevent future occurrences.

The crucial difference between Level 3 and 4 is Predictability. At Level 4, performance of process is quantitatively predictable.

CMMI Level 5
Level 5 – The Optimizing Level, focuses on continually improving process performance through both incremental and innovative improvements. The effects of deployed process improvements are measured and evaluated. A critical distinction between Level 4 and 5, is the type of process variation that is addressed. At maturity Level 4, we look at Special cause of variation (Through Statistical Process Control or other statistical techniques).

At Level 5, we are concerned with addressing common causes of variation and changing the process (Ex – Defect & Problem Prevention)