Does anyone still believe in the Capability Maturity Model for Software?

Question :

Does anyone still believe in the Capability Maturity Model for Software?,

Answer :

Ten years ago when I first encountered the  I was, I suppose like many, struck by how accurately it seemed to describe the chaotic “level one” state of software development in many businesses, particularly with its reference to reliance on heroes. It also seemed to provide realistic guidance for an organisation to progress up the levels improving their processes.

But while it seemed to provide a good model and realistic guidance for improvement, I never really witnessed an adherence to CMM having a significant positive impact on any organisation I have worked for, or with. I know of one large software consultancy that claims CMM level 5 – the highest level – when I can see first hand that their processes are as chaotic, and the quality of their software products as varied, as other, non-CMM businesses.

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So I’m wondering, has anyone seen a real, tangible benefit from adherence to process improvement according to CMM?

And if you have seen improvement, do you think that the improvement was specifically attributable to CMM, or would an alternative approach (such as have been equally or more beneficial?

Does anyone still believe?

As an aside, for those who haven’t yet seen it, check out this funny-because-its-true


At the heart of the matter lies this problem, neatly described by the CMM guidance itself…

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“…Sound judgment is necessary to use the CMM correctly and with insight. Intelligence, experience and knowledge must shape an appropriate interpretation of the CMM in a specific environment. That interpretation should be based on the business needs and objectives of the organization and the projects. A rote, checklist-oriented application of the CMM has the potential to harm an organization rather than help it…â€

From Page 14, section 1.6 of The Capability Maturity Model, Guidelines for Improving the Software Process by the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute, ISBN 0-201-54664-7.

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