CMMI Institute


Discover how an appraiser can help your organization identify operational strengths and weaknesses.

CMMI Levels of Capability and Performance

The maturity level or capability level of an organization provides a way to characterize its capability and performance. Experience has shown that organizations do their best when they focus their process improvement efforts on a prioritized and manageable number of practice areas at a time.

A Culture of Continuous Improvement

Your process improvement goals should always be based on your business objectives. Experience has shown that organizations benefit from achieving a level only when the focus of improvement is on business and performance results and shared objectives. When the focus is on achieving business objectives and improved performance, the performance results occur naturally and typically endure.

Capability Levels

Capability levels apply to an organization’s performance and process improvement achievements in individual practice areas. Within practice areas, the practices are organized into practice groups labeled Level 0 to Level 3 which provide an evolutionary path to performance improvement. Each level builds on the previous levels by adding new functionality or rigor resulting in increased capability.

Capability Level 0: Incomplete

  • Incomplete approach to meeting the intent of the Practice Area.
  • May or may not be meeting the intent of any practice.
  • Inconsistent performance.

Capability Level 1: Initial

  • Initial approach to meeting the intent of the Practice Area.
  • Not a complete set of practices to meeting the full intent of the Practice Area.
  • Addresses performance issues.

Capability Level 2: Managed

  • Subsumes level 1 practices.
  • Simple, but complete set of practices that address the full intent of the Practice Area.
  • Does not require the use of the organizational assets.
  • Identifies and monitors progress towards project performance objectives.

Capability Level 3: Defined

  • Builds on level 2 practices.
  • Uses organizational standards and tailoring to address project and work characteristics.
  • Projects use and contribute to organization assets.
  • Focuses on achieving both project and organizational performance objectives.

Maturity Levels

Maturity levels represent a staged path for an organization’s performance and process improvement efforts based on predefined sets of practice areas. Within each maturity level, the predefined set of PA’s also provide a path to performance improvement. Each maturity level builds on the previous maturity levels by adding new functionality or rigor.

Maturity Level 0: Incomplete

Ad hoc and unknown. Work may or may not get completed.

Maturity Level 1: Initial

Unpredictable and reactive. Work gets completed but is often delayed and over budget.

Maturity Level 2: Managed

Managed on the project level. Projects are planned, performed, measured, and controlled.

Maturity Level 3: Defined

Proactive, rather than reactive. Organization-wide standards provide guidance across projects, programs, and portfolios.

Maturity Level 4: Quantitatively Managed

Measured and controlled. Organization is data-driven with quantitative performance improvement objectives that are predictable and align to meet the needs of internal and external stakeholders.

Maturity Level 5: Optimizing

Stable and flexible. Organization is focused on continuous improvement and is built to pivot and respond to opportunity and change. The organization’s stability provides a platform for agility and innovation.