Levels are used in CMMI to describe an
evolutionary path recommended for an organization that wants to improve
the processes it uses to provide services. Levels can also be the outcome
of the rating activity in appraisals.6 Appraisals can apply to
entire companies or to smaller groups such as a small group of projects or
a division in a company.
CMMI supports two improvement paths using
levels. One path enables organizations to incrementally improve processes
corresponding to an individual process area (or group of process areas)
selected by the organization. The other path enables organizations to
improve a set of related processes by incrementally addressing successive
sets of process areas.
These two improvement paths are associated with
the two types of levels: capability levels and maturity levels. These
levels correspond to two approaches to process improvement called
“representations.” The two representations are called “continuous” and
“staged.” The continuous representation has what are labeled “capability
levels.” The staged representation has what are labeled “maturity
Regardless of which representation you select,
the level concept is the same. Levels characterize improvement from
an ill-defined state to a state that uses quantitative information to
determine and manage improvements that are needed to meet an
organization’s business objectives.
To reach a particular level, an organization
must satisfy all of the appropriate goals of the process area or set of
process areas that are targeted for improvement, regardless of whether it
is a capability or a maturity level.
Both representations provide ways to implement
process improvement to achieve business objectives, and both provide the
same essential content and use the same model components.