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The questions are often asked: “what level should we aim for?”, and, “should we go for an official assessment?”


The primary aim should be to achieve the time/cost benefits CMMI level 3 capability maturity brings. To get a stamp of approval via an official assessment should only be of secondary or marketing consideration. Instead of the stamp of approval, metrics will tell you if the benefits of improved process and practices are being realized (more on that below).


Of course, to improve your current processes you may indeed want to perform a full assessment to learn what is presently lacking. Another strategy is to simply replace your own incomplete processes with a fully CMMI level 3 compliant process, to fast track improvement.

Why level 3?

Aim for CMMI level 3, since at that level you will have induction training in place. Without induction training, every new team member that comes on board will of course not know your processes, and thus the project can only operate sub-optimally. Before long, especially with higher staff turn-over, new staff unwittingly will revert you back to level 2, or worse, to level 1 or lower !!


Here is another consideration: If you have twenty percent staff renewal per annum, then within two years, almost half your staff has no idea of the intended method of working (irrespective of whatever method you choose!). It’s like mopping with the tap open, and the cost to your organization is huge.


Hence for process improvement and time/cost benefits to take permanent hold in the organization, you need to step to level 3. For this reason the SmartMethod provides you with CMMI level 3 processes and practices out of the box, including all necessary line management activities such as planning and managing induction training.

But, why not level 4 or 5?

No one is stopping you and you may well find that the further time / cost and quality improvements are worth the investment. But first, build a capable mature team before entering the national championships.

So, why not stay at level 1?

Because it costs money, causes staff-churn, poor perceptions, quality issues, and so on (see CMMI pays for itself)


To survive process improvement endeavors and make your improved method of working “stick”, start with collecting the right metrics. Without the right metrics, as you move to level 2, inevitably the perception will be that “process costs money”; this perception of increased cost is true when not taking into account the reduced “actuals” as is described in “process costs more”.  


Note: “the right metrics” are not just time and cost - which on their own are incomplete and meaningless. You need additional metrics, such as project capability maturity metrics (like the CMMI quick self assessment) to arm yourself against the nay-sayers!



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