Capability-Maturity Model: The value in a baseline and benchmark.

Why the Capability Maturity Model matters

The origins of the Capability-Maturity Model (CMM) date back to the late 1950’s where the objective was to improve reliability of software and hardware in the US military.

Since that time, many variations and specialisations of CMM have emerged. There are models specific to almost every domain in IT (governance, management, value, software, integration, hardware, and so on).  There are also numerous models applied to a wide range of business domains, such as customer service, organisational efficiency and change readiness.

They all seek to apply a consistent means to measure the level of maturity, and the capability to produce the desired result –essentially to identify gaps that exist between your current state and the achievement of organisational goals and industry standards.

Key considerations for selecting a CMM

CMM provides a means to measure change over time, by recording a baseline, and then repeating the assessment on a routine basis (often annually) to determine if investments made in maturing capability have resulted in actual improvements.  CMM also provides a means to compare, or benchmark, yourself against other organisations.  Numerous research and academic providers maintain benchmark data, and can apply this to assess the capability-maturity of an organisation, when compared to others.

The challenge for organisations is to select a CMM that relates to the domain that you are measuring, has validity through a strong industry following, and makes sense, given the industry and geography in which you operate. 

  • If you are seeking to compare your baseline to others, then the benchmark database must have data which is recent, and relevant to your organisation. Some broadly available models are high-level only, and don’t provide benchmark data.
  • To assess capability-maturity over time, you are seeking long-term use of the model.  A vendor or research organisation’s proprietary model may appeal, but may limit the choice of industry practitioners who can help you. 
  • CMMs that provide descriptions of and guidance on their capability practices and processes can be very helpful, to inform your continuous improvement.

Improving your business operations with CMM

Business Aspect has delivered numerous capability-maturity assessments, using a range of different models:

Completing a CMM assessment is not onerous. It typically involves the completion of a survey by a representative sample of stakeholders and takes between two and four weeks. Business Aspect understands the nuances of the various models, allowing us to assist with survey completion, and add insight to the results. We seek to make organisations self-sufficient in the assessment process.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure

Any organisation, regardless of its size or industry, will benefit from understanding the ideas of capability and maturity, and applying them to their department or business:

  • Understand your current level of maturity across a spectrum of capabilities
  • Compare yourself to competitors / like organisations
  • Plan investments that will directly or indirectly improve key capabilities, in support of your organisational strategy (e.g. training, partnering, outsourcing, etc.)
  • Measure the outcomes of those investments and planning new ones.

Focusing on capability-maturity is about being able to provide assurance to your customers and stakeholders that you can consistently deliver results. This can translate into improved customer retention, lower project costs, improved compliance and more. Developing mature capability means, quite simply, setting yourself up for success.

Related content

Read more about some of the capability maturity work that Business Aspect has been involved in:
Case study - Enabling a Financial Services Organisation to Boost IT Management Capability Maturity

For more information about how Business Aspect can help you understand your organisations capability maturity please contact us.