Capability Maturity Model

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What Does Capability Maturity Model Mean?

Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is a technical and cross-discipline methodology used to facilitate and refine software development processes and system improvement. Based on the Process Maturity Framework (PMF), CMM was developed to assess the performance capabilities of government contractors.


CMM is a benchmark used to compare organizational processes. It is routinely applied to the fields of IT, commerce and government to facilitate business area processes, such as software engineering, risk management, project management and system engineering.

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), which is the CMM patent registrant, provides CMM oversight through its Software Engineering Institute (SEI).

Techopedia Explains Capability Maturity Model

CMM operates according to the following concepts:

  • Key process areas (KPA): Refer to a group of activities used for goal success.
  • Goals: Refer to effective KPA implementation, which indicates maturity capability and signifies KPA parameters and intent.
  • Common features: Refer to KPA performance commitment and ability, performed activities, measurement, implementation verification and analysis.
  • Key practices: Refer to infrastructure components used to facilitate KPA implementation and institutionalization.
  • Maturity levels: Refers to a five-level process, where the highest level is an ideal state, and processes are systematically managed through optimization and continuous improvement.

The following CMM stages refer to an organization’s process management capabilities:

  • Initial: An unstable process environment is provided. Dynamic yet undocumented change occurs during this stage and is used in an uncontrolled and reactive manner.
  • Repeatable: This is a stage of repeatable processes that deliver consistent results. Basic project management techniques are repeatedly established for continuous success.
  • Defined: This stage encloses documented and defined standards that change over time and promote established performance consistency.
  • Managed: This stage uses process metrics and effectively controls the AS-IS process. Management adapts and adjusts to projects without specification deviation. Process capability is set from this level.
  • Optimizing: Final stage focuses on continuous process performance improvement through innovative and incremental technological improvements.

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.