Monday, February 25, 2013

What exactly is the CMMI?

Dear CMMI Appraiser, I need to know exactly what the CMMI is, so I can determine if it is right for our organization. What does it help companies do, and how do we get CMMI certified? Thank you. ~ Pat C.

Dear Pat, welcome to the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)! As a certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser who has worked in the industry for many years, I’m always thrilled when someone new asks about the Model. I’ve come to think of the CMMI as one big party, and everyone is invited!

Practically speaking, there are three things to know about the CMMI:

  • The CMMI is a tool to help solve business problems 
  • The CMMI is a framework and set of guidelines for changing behaviors and changing culture
  • The CMMI is a time-tested, industry-proven model for positive outcomes

… here are just six of many things to know about what the CMMI helps you do:

  • The CMMI helps you change and improve requirements churn and volatility, so that you can spend less time and money on requirements
  • The CMMI helps you be on-time and on-budget 
  • The CMMI helps you motivate your staff, and make them better at what they do. 
  • The CMMI helps you understand and deal with risk, before it hurts you 
  • The CMMI helps you avoid having too many meetings, unhappy customers and unpredictable projects 
  • The CMMI allows you to do what you are already doing, better

As to your question, “How do we get CMMI certified?” I will answer in a moment. First, while the phrase “CMMI certification” is common on Web sites and conversations throughout the industry, the CMMI Institute does not recognize "CMMI certification," Instead, they recommend the following phrasing: “How do we achieve a CMMI level rating?”

You achieve a CMMI Rating ("a level") by building, deploying, and managing a process architecture within your engineering and project management organizations and you use the best practices identified in the process areas of the CMMI model to make it better. That's it!  Once institutionalization is apparent, you can then engage with a CMMI Institute-certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser to lead you through a SCAMPI Appraisal. For many organizations, it makes sense to work with a CMMI consultant to help you decide when it is best to appraise your organization.  There are many certified lead appraiser who can help you as a consultant as well.

Depending on the appraisal type you select, it will result in either a gap analysis report or a set of formal findings that identify your company as having achieved (or not achieved) CMMI Level 2, CMMI Level 3, Level 4 or Level 5.  You can achieve both "Maturity Levels" or "Capability Levels" depending on your business goals or how you wish to scope the appraisal.  Again, your friendly Certified Lead Appraiser is the right person to ask about this.

But keep in mind: The CMMI is not about getting a CMMI certificate or achieving a CMMI Maturity Level. As I said above, the CMMI is more like a party, an ongoing celebration, a model to help guide you in your quest for becoming a great company … and you’re invited!

Need to know more? Here’s another invitation. Click here to register for our FREE Webinar on March 13th.

CMMI - Everything You Need to Know!

We hope to see you there!

Like this blog? Forward to your nearest engineering or software exec!

Jeff Dalton is a Certified SCAMPI Lead Appraiser, Certified CMMI Instructor, author, and consultant with years of real-world experience with the CMMI in all types of organizations. Jeff has taught thousands of students in CMMI trainings and has received an aggregate satisfaction score of 4.97 out of 5 from his students.

Visit for more information about engineering strategy, performance innovation , software process improvement and running a successful CMMI program.

To download eBooks about CMMI, visit Jeff’s Author Page on Amazon.


Himanshu Karkhanis said...

Hi again, Jeff!

I will be there in the webinar just so that if needed, I can share my experience of the CMMI journey. I will be glad to volunteer to try and answer the questions. Let me know and all the best for this webinar.


Himanshu Karkhanis

Jeff Dalton said...


It will be great to have you on our "CMMI - Everything you need to know" webinar. It's great that you are able to share your knowledge with so many people!