Capability Maturity Model

The Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute (SEI) developed the Capability Maturity Model for Software® (Model) to assist organizations in the assessment and improvement of their project management process. The Model categorizes an organization's capability to develop software within one of five "maturity" levels. The Model suggests an organization can improve its development skills (move into a higher category) by implementing the techniques defined within a category (and within any lower categories, excluding the Initial category). The categories and defining characteristics are:

  • Initial - Organizations with Initial capabilities use ad hoc development techniques and limited standardized procedures.
  • Repeatable - Organizations with Repeatable capabilities use fundamental project planning, scheduling, and monitoring procedures.
  • Defined - Organizations with Defined capabilities use approved, formalized management and development standards and procedures, customized to meet specific project requirements, for all projects.
  • Managed - Organizations with Managed capabilities measure, understand, and control development procedures and product quality.
  • Optimizing - Organizations with Optimized capabilities use effective communication techniques and innovative ideas and technologies to obtain ongoing improvements in processes and products.

The main areas SEI encourages organizations to implement or improve to mature their development capabilities include:

  • Repeatable - Basic project management controls such as requirements, configuration, and subcontractor management controls; software project planning, tracking, and oversight procedures; and software quality assurance programs;
  • Defined - Project and organizational issues such as process focus, training programs, integrated software management, software product engineering, intergroup coordination, and peer reviews;
    Managed - Quantitative issues such as software quality and process management; and
  • Optimizing - Organizational and project issues such as defect prevention, technology change controls, and process change management.


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