CMMI Frequently Asked Questions and Answers


When looking to work with the U.S. government, particularly in the areas of software development, IT services, or systems engineering, organizations often have questions about the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI). 

What is CMMI?

CMMI is a process improvement approach that provides organizations with the essential elements for effective process improvement. It is used to guide process improvement across a project, division, or an entire organization.

Is CMMI mandatory for U.S. government contracts? 

While not always mandatory, many U.S. government contracts, particularly in the Department of Defense (DoD), require or strongly prefer contractors to be appraised at a certain CMMI level.

What is CMMI-DEV

CMMI for Development (CMMI-DEV) is a constellation of CMMI processes which address Software Development. Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is a process level improvement training and appraisal program. Administered by the CMMI Institute, a subsidiary of ISACA, it was developed at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

It is required by many United States Department of Defense (DoD) and U.S. Government contracts, especially in software development. CMU claims CMMI can be used to guide process improvement across a project, division, or an entire organization.

The CMMI model institutionalizes the following definitions for maturity levels:

  • Initial (Level 1),
  • Managed (Level 2),
  • Defined (Level 3),
  • Quantitatively Managed (Level 4), and
  • Optimizing (Level 5).

The current published Model version (Version 2.0) was released in March of 2018. Version 1.3, published in 2010, is scheduled to sunset in September 30, 2020. CMMI is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by CMU.

What is CMMI-SVC

CMMI for Services (CMMI-SVC) is a constellation of CMMI processes which address Services Provision and is a collection of best practices with attention to service delivery and management. CMMI Services is an integrated and comprehensive methodology that focuses on improvement within an organization and its capability to efficiently and effectively deliver quality service offerings that meet market and customer needs. The CMMI for Services model is designed to support organizational initiatives to streamline process improvement and drive productivity. The CMMI model institutionalizes the following definitions for maturity levels:

  • Initial (Level 1),
  • Managed (Level 2),
  • Defined (Level 3),
  • Quantitatively Managed (Level 4), and
  • Optimizing (Level 5).

Administered by the CMMI Institute, a subsidiary of ISACA, it was developed at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). CMMI for Services Version 2.0 was released in December of 2018. CMMI for Services – Version 1.3 is scheduled to sunset in September 30, 2020.

Why use a CMMI Model?

The CMMI Model provides an organization with a set of process requirements that can help streamline process operation and improvement initiatives. The CMMI Models are focused on supporting an organization’s operational capabilities to decrease risk, improve product and service practices and development, and standardize and streamline process workflow.

What improvements to expect?

  • Organizations can expect to see marked improvement in:
  • Consistency
  • Process Improvement
  • Cost Saving and reduction in rework
  • Distinguishing qualifier within the market place

What is SCAMPI?

SCAMPI (Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement), is an appraisal process that is used to determine and organization’s maturity level (1 through 5). The SCAMPI Appraisal process is performed by a certified Lead SCAMPI Appraisal and the appraisal method is administered and managed by the CMMI Institute.

Difference between CMM and CMMI?

CMM measures the maturity level of an organization by determining if an organization completes the specific activities listed in the Key Performance Areas (KPA), oblivious to whether the completion of such activity leads to the desired result. Developed by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon in the early 1990s, CMM focused on several discipline areas such as Software CMM, People CMM, etc.

CMMI (released in 2002) was the successor of the CMM model with more mature and defined set of guidelines and a combination of the components of the individual CMM models. CMMI is also an activity-based approach but the major difference is that CMMI takes a more result-oriented approach when defining and measuring Key Performance Areas.

When does my organization need to transition to CMMI V2 DEV?

The last day an appraisal can be conducted using CMMI v1.3 is September 30, 2020.

Does everyone in an organization need formal CMMI Development training?

The short answer is, no. The only required personnel that need formal training are those that plan to participate as an Appraisal Team Member (ATM).

Is there required training or a special certificate for becoming an internal company CMMI auditor?

There is formal training requirements to become a CMMI Lead Appraiser but no formal training requirements as an ‘internal company auditor’.

For CMMI 2.0 is less documentation required?

An organization can adopt the practices of the CMMI 2.0 Model without developing or generating undue process documentation.  Consider what you are looking to achieve when deciding if a process and the resulting work products should be documented.   What directive, organizational knowledge or information is to be imparted? What behavior is trying to be changed? What will be the best mode for communicating the information, i.e. face-to-face meeting, email, paper document, video conference, or website? What value is there in documenting that an activity occurred? Has management asked that managers and teams be accountable and adhere to organizational objectives and improve performance?

Should your organization’s goal be to achieve a maturity level rating, objective evidence must be available during an appraisal for review and evaluation. Objective evidence consists of both artifacts and affirmations and must be provided for all practice areas for the organization and each project or group in-scope for the appraisal.

Are any of the process areas unchanged from CMMI V1.3 to V2.0?

The practice areas (formerly process areas) that have largely remained the same from V1.3 to V2.0 include:

  • Verification and Validation
  • Organizational Training
  • Incident Resolution and Prevention

The following practice areas have minor additions from V1.3 to 2.0:

  • Configuration Management
    • CM 1.1: Perform version control
  • Supplier Agreement Management
    • SAM 3.1: Select technical supplier deliverables for analysis and conduct technical reviews.
  • Process Quality Assurance
    • PQA 3.1: Identify and record opportunities for improvement during quality assurance activities
  • Decision Analysis
    • DAR 3.1: Develop, keep updated, and use a description of role-based decision authority
  • Continuity
    • CON 1.1: Develop contingency approaches for managing significant disruptions to operations.
  • Product Integration
    • PI 1.1: Assemble solutions and deliver to the customer.
  • Requirements Development and Management
    • RDM 1.1: Record requirements.
  • Service Delivery Management  
    • SDM 1.1: Use the service system to deliver services.
  • Strategic Service Management
    • STSM 1.1: Develop a list of current services.

Where have all the good generic practices gone?

The standalone generic practices as we knew them are now incorporated within CMMI V2.0 practices.  For example, the former generic practice 2.3, “Provide Resources – Provide adequate resources for performing the process, developing the work products, and providing the services of the process” can be found in Governance (GOV)  2.2, “Senior management ensures resources and training are provided for developing, supporting, performing, improving, and evaluating adherence to expected processes.”

What CMMI 2.0 Practice Areas are at Maturity Level 4 and 5?

There are level 4 and 5 practices within the some of the Practice Areas of the model but no standalone Practice Areas for Maturity Levels 4 and 5. Only two, V2.0 Practice Areas have practices at all 5 maturity levels; Causal Analysis and Resolution (CAR) and Managing Performance & Measurement (MPM). Six (6) Practice Areas have practices at Level 4; Planning (PLAN), Supplier Agreement Management (SAM), Causal Analysis and Resolution (CAR), Managing Performance and Measurement (MPM), Process Management (PCM) and Governance (GOV).

Are there practice areas that are common to all model views?

The common or core practice areas for each view of the model (CMMI Development, CMMI Services or CMMI Supplier Management) are Estimating, Planning; Monitor and Control; Supplier Agreement Management; Causal Analysis and Resolution; Decision Analysis and Resolution; Configuration Management; Managing Performance & Measurement; Process Management; Process Asset Development; Requirements Development & Management; Process Quality Assurance; Verification & Validation; Peer Reviews; Risk and Opportunity Management; Organizational Training; Governance; Implementation Infrastructure.

Must the measurement and performance objectives established for CMMI 2.0 be quantitative objectives?

The measurement and performance objectives established to support the organization’s business objectives may be qualitative (quality) or quantitative (measurable) in nature. Qualitative objectives often include words like, improve, maintain, increase, reduce. “Improve on time delivery” is an example of a qualitative objective.

How soon before a Benchmark Appraisal are the practice areas selected by the CMMI Institute to be sampled?

The minimum number is thirty-five (35) and maximum of sixty (60) calendar days in advance of the Conduct Appraisal Phase.

What does CMMI 2.0 ask of Senior Management?

Senior Management is expected to set the strategy, direction and expectations for performance and process efforts; ensures the processes align with business objectives and needs, provides the needed resources, monitors the performance and achievements efforts and reinforces and rewards the development and use of the processes to insure improvement and sustainment.

What is the minimum appraisal team size, including the Appraisal Team Lead for a Benchmark, Evaluation and Sustainment Appraisal?

For a Benchmark Appraisal the minimum team size is 4 or more, a Sustainment Appraisal, 2 or more and for an Evaluation Appraisal, more than 1. It is our recommendation however, that an Evaluation Appraisal be conducted before a Benchmark Appraisal and that the same team and size should be maintained for each Appraisal to reduce the risk in achieving the desired maturity level rating. Therefore, our recommended Appraisal Team size is 4 or more. Note: Ratings are only generated through a Benchmark Appraisal.

What has changed for Supplier Agreement Management with CMMI 2.0?

Two former subpractices of Supplier Agreement Management SP 2.1 Execute the Supplier Agreement are now required practices of CMMI 2.0, SAM 3.1Select technical supplier deliverables for analysis and conduct technical review, as well as, SAM 3.2, Select and monitor supplier processes and deliverables based on criteria in the supplier agreement.

How are organizational, business, measurement, performance and improvement objectives different?

Organizational and business objectives are one in the same. They are the higher-level objectives established by senior management to foster performance improvement, build and improve capability, and boost profitability, market share, and other factors to help ensure the success of the organization.  Organizational or business objectives are usually related to performance, quality, cost, schedule or functionality

Measurement and Performance objectives are measurable objectives that are allocated or derived from business objectives to projects, service teams, functional areas or support groups and must be traceable to business objectives. Measurement and performance objectives are quantitative or qualitative objectives that do not require the additional rigor of statistical and other quantitative techniques.

Process improvement objectives are a set of measurement objectives established to focus process improvement in a specific, measurable way that improves performance to achieve an organization’s business objectives.

What is the Implementation Infrastructure?

The infrastructure is everything needed to implement, perform and sustain the organization’s set of processes. The infrastructure is made up of process descriptions, available resources (e.g. people, tools, time), training and funding to perform the processes and the objective evaluations to ensure they are performed.

Is there a prerequisite for participating as a team member on an Appraisal?

The requirements for an Appraisal Team Member include:

  • Three years minimum experience performing the type of work to be appraised
  • Must be a Certified CMMI Associate
  • Have completed a CMMI Institute licensed introductory course or upgrade training for the version and model in scope

Are all capability and practice areas of the CMMI 2.0 Model evaluated the same way during an Appraisal?

Except for the Sustaining Habit and Persistence (SHP) capability area, all other capability and practice areas are evaluated and characterized as to the extent in which the organizational and project practices are implemented and meet the intent of the CMMI 2.0 model.

The SHP capability practice areas, Implementation Infrastructure (II) and Governance (GOV) are evaluated a bit differently. They are not evaluated against the CMMI model but to the level of practice persistence and habit. In other words, evaluated on the extent to which practices are performed routinely and performed often enough to be considered ingrained and part of the way work is performed at the organization.

The appraisal team for the Governance practice area, characterizes how well senior management fulfills their process roles.  For the Implementation Infrastructure practice area, the appraisal team characterizes practices as applied to the processes being used by the project(s) in scope. In both cases, characterization is not based on the CMMI model but on the processes the organization has developed, implemented and improved.

Need more information about CMMI?

Please fill in the form and we will contact you the moment we receive your information.