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What is CMM?

The Capability Maturity Model for Software (CMM) is a framework that describes the key elements of an effective software process. There are CMMs for non software processes as well, such as Business Process Management (BPM).

The CMM describes an evolutionary improvement path from an ad hoc, immature process to a mature, disciplined process. The CMM covers practices for planning, engineering, and managing software development and maintenance.

When followed, these key practices improve the ability of organizations to meet goals for cost, schedule, functionality, and product quality.

The CMM establishes a yardstick against which it is possible to judge, in a repeatable way, the maturity of an organization's software process and compare it to the state of the practice of the industry.

The CMM can also be used by an organization to plan improvements to its software process. It also reflects the needs of individuals performing software process, improvement, software process assessments, or software capability evaluations; is documented; and is publicly available.

The CMM model defines five levels of organizational maturity:

1. Initial level is a basis for comparison with the next levels. In an organization at the initial level, conditions are not stable for the development of quality software. The results of any project depend totally on the manager’ s personal approach and the programmers’ experience, meaning the success of a particular project can be repeated only if the same managers and programmers are assigned to the next project. In addition, if managers or programmers leave the company, the quality of produced software will sharply decrease. In many cases, the development process comes down to writing code with minimal testing.

2. Repeatable level. At this level, project management technologies have been introduced in a company. That project planning and management is based on accumulated experience and there are standards for produced software (these standards are documented) and there is a special quality management group. At critical times, the process tends to roll back to the initial level.

3. Defined level. Here, standards for the processes of software development and maintenance are introduced and documented (including project management). During the introduction of standards, a transition to more effective technologies occurs. There is a special quality management department for building and maintaining these standards. A program of constant, advanced training of staff is required for achievement of this level. Starting with this level, the degree of organizational dependence on the qualities of particular developers decreases and the process does not tend to roll back to the previous level in critical situations.

4. Managed level. There are quantitative indices (for both software and process as a whole) established in the organization. Better project management is achieved due to the decrease of digression in different project indices. However, sensible variations in process efficiency may be different from random variations (noise), especially in mastered areas.

5. Optimizing level. Improvement procedures are carried out not only for existing processes, but also for evaluation of the efficiency of newly introduced innovative technologies. The main goal of an organization on this level is permanent improvement of existing processes. This should anticipate possible errors and defects and decrease the costs of software development, by creating reusable components for example