Product Development Capability Maturity Model

The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) was developed by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University to describe a framework of five stages of evolution or levels of capability or process maturity. The CMM describes an evolutionary improvement path from an ad-hoc, immature process to a mature, disciplined process. This model applies to new product development as well as software development. While the CMM provides a model for process maturity, the Product Development Best Practices and Assessment software and the Product Development Assessment methodology provide a more comprehensive and sound framework for assessing and improving product development. The CMM model has been adapted by DRM Associates to describe the levels of maturity with the product development process. The five product development process CMM levels are:

Level 1 – Initial Level (ad-hoc, immature): At the initial level, the organization typically does not provide a stable environment for developing new products. When a organization lacks sound management practices, the benefits of good integrated product development practices are undermined by ineffective planning, reaction-driven commitment systems. process short-cuts and their associated risks, late involvement of key disciplines, and little focus on optimizing the product for its life cycle. The development process is unpredictable and unstable because the process is constantly changed or modified as the work progresses opr varies from one project to another. Performance depends on the capabilities of individuals or teams and varies with their innate skills, knowledge, and motivations.

Level 2 – Repeatable Level: At the repeatable level, policies for managing a development project and procedures to implement those policies are established. Effective management processes for development projects are institutionalized, which allow organizations to repeat successful practices developed on earlier projects, although the specific processes implemented by the projects may differ. An effective process can be characterized as practiced, documented, enforced, trained, measured, and able to improve. Basic project and management controls have been installed. Realistic project commitments are based on the results observed on previous projects and on the requirements of the current project. The project managers and team leaders track NPD costs, schedules, and requirements; problems in meeting commitments are identified when they arise. Product requirements and design documentation are controlled to prevent unauthorized changes. The team works with its subcontractors, if any, to establish a strong customer-supplier relationship.

Level 3 – Defined Level: At the defined level, the standard process for developing new products is documented, these processes are based on integrated product development practices, and these processes are integrated into a coherent whole. Processes are used to help the managers, team leaders, and development team members perform more effectively. An organization-wide training program is implemented to ensure that the staff and managers have the knowledge and skills required to fulfill their assigned roles. Projects tailor the organization’s baseline development process to develop their tailored process which accounts for the unique characteristics of the project. A well-defined process can be characterized as including readiness criteria, inputs, standards and procedures for performing the work, verification mechanisms (such as team reviews), outputs, and completion criteria. Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and understood. Because the software process is well defined, management has good insight into technical progress on all projects. Project cost, schedule, and requirements are under control, and product quality is tracked.

Level 4 – Managed Level: At the managed level, the organization establishes metrics for products and processes and measures results. Projects achieve control over their products and processes by narrowing the variation in their process performance to fall within acceptable boundaries. Meaningful variations in process performance can be distinguished from random variation (noise). The risks involved in moving new product technology, manufacturing processes and markets are known and carefully managed. The development process is predictable because the process is measured and operates within measurable limits. This level of process capability allows an organization to predict trends in process and product quality within the quantitative bounds of these limits. When these limits are exceeded, action is taken to correct the situation. As a result, products are of predictably high quality.

Level 5 – Optimized Level: At the optimized level, the entire organization is focused on continuous process improvement. The organization has the means to identify weaknesses and strengthen the process proactively, with the goal of preventing the occurrence of defects. Data on the effectiveness of the development process is used to perform cost benefit analyses of new development technologies and proposed changes to the organization’s development process. Innovations that exploit the best integrated product development practices are identified and transferred throughout the organization. Product development teams analyze failures and defects to determine their causes. Development processes are evaluated to prevent known types of failures and defects from recurring, and lessons learned are disseminated to other projects. Improvement occurs because of both incremental advances in the existing process and by innovations using new technologies and methods.