Using the People Capability Maturity Model with CMMI



Suzanne D. Couturiaux

This library item is related to the following area(s) of work:

Process Improvement

This article was originally published in News at SEI on: February 1, 2005

In the 10 years since Version 1 of the People Capability Maturity Model (People CMM) framework was published, organizations in the United States and around the world have been using it as a guide to improve their workforce practices. The People CMM, which is compatible with the staged representation of Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) models, is a five-stage model that helps organizations address their critical people issues [Curtis 02]. “It looks at the knowledge, skills, and process abilities you need to run the process and run the business,” says Gian Wemyss, a member of the SEI People CMM team. “It’s a way to incorporate the people (human capital and human resources) aspects with process and technology.”

Benefits Achieved

“There’s a wonderful synergy when using the People CMM with CMMI,” states Sally Miller, an author of the People CMM and member of the People CMM team. “CMMI describes managing your project to get the work delivered, and the People CMM describes managing your people to ensure you have the right talent at the right place at the right time.” Many organizations—such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin—are tying the People CMM with CMMI as part of their overall process improvement effort. Others—such as Novo Nordisk in Denmark and Intel—are tying the People CMM with their strategic planning. “They use the People CMM to bring improvement to the whole organization,” says Wemyss. These organizations have reported a number of benefits—such as a decrease in voluntary employee turnover, an increase in employee satisfaction, and an increase in productivity—from using the People CMM to manage and develop their workforces. For example, Boeing IT Services, World Headquarters Support (which was assessed at Level 3 of the People CMM) is integrating its People CMM activities with company-wide CMM activities and has reported a 15% increase in its employee satisfaction index, a 50% reduction in post-release defects, and a 15% reduction in rework ratio [Foster 05]. In 2002, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems (LM-MS), which was assessed at Level 3 of the People CMM in 1999, reported an annualized attrition of less than 6% and a steady reduction in its attrition rate [Miller 02]. LM-MS has achieved Level 5 of the Software CMM and is using the People CMM to help sustain higher CMMI maturity levels via solid workforce practices [Curtis 02].

Some of the benefits that organizations achieve from using the People CMM are qualitative in nature. Wemyss says, “The People CMM demands tying your workforce improvement to both your strategic plan and your operational plan, so you have a much clearer coupling of what your workforce is doing in relation to the plans and direction of the organization. It becomes clear how each person’s knowledge, skills, and process abilities support the organization’s operational and strategic plans.”

“Organizations have also reported a greater linking between the human resources department and technical managers,” states Wemyss. “Because of the way the People CMM describes the practices, organizations understand what is a manager’s responsibility and what is human resources’ responsibility.” The People CMM enables technical managers and the human resources department to use a common language about workforce issues. Miller states, “Managers and the human resources group are able to talk about workforce issues in a more collaborative way, take measurements on how the organization’s practices are working, and use the measurements to improve predictability and take inventory.” For example, many organizations face an aging workforce. Organizations need to take inventory of the knowledge and skills possessed by the employees who will be retiring and transfer that intellectual capital to the people who will remain in the organization. “The People CMM helps an organization think about what it’s going to do in the future when the senior employees retire,” says Miller.

Applying the People CMM with a Process Improvement Effort

When applying the People CMM together with CMMI, it is important to present the People CMM as a component of the organization’s overall process improvement effort and not as a separate program or a human resources program alone. Organizations should blend their workforce development and process improvement activities, integrate improvements into the organization’s operational fabric, and develop a strong partnership between Human Resources and technical management. Miller adds, “Organizations that have been successful with either or both CMMI and the People CMM have made the models their own and incorporated them into the way they do their work on a regular basis. They’ve taken the framework provided in the models and built it into their own standards.” When introducing multiple improvement programs, an organization needs to assess the amount of change it can absorb and stage the introduction of the programs. For example, if an organization is at CMMI Level 2, project managers should first master their project management skills and then begin improvements guided by the People CMM to supplement their project management activities [Curtis 03].

Plans to Update the People CMM Product Suite

The People CMM was originally developed by the SEI with support from the U.S. Army and Office of the Secretary of Defense. Until June of 2005, TeraQuest Metrics (a process consulting firm) had responsibility for the commercialization of the People CMM and support of authorized People CMM assessors and instructors. With the recent acquisition of TeraQuest Metrics by Borland Software Corporation, these activities will now be handled by the SEI. Wemyss states, “This will result in a greater tying of the People CMM with CMMI. The People CMM product suite is going to parallel the CMMI product suite.” The courses offered by the SEI for the People CMM will be analogous to the courses offered for CMMI. Currently, there is an introduction course and an intermediate concepts course for CMMI, but there is only an introduction course for the People CMM. In 2006, the SEI plans to offer a new Intermediate Concepts of People CMM course. In addition, the SEI plans to update the appraisal method from the People CMM-based assessment method to the Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPI) method and will announce SCAMPI training and instructor training for the People CMM.

The new intermediate course is implementation focused and will give attendees a better idea of how to apply the model. Wemyss states, “The current Introduction course is about getting to know what’s in the model; with the new intermediate course you can focus on a deeper knowledge of the model and on how to implement what’s in the model in your own organization.” With the addition of this new course, the training for people who want to become People CMM appraisers or instructors will parallel the training for CMMI appraisers and instructors. Miller explains, “The path you’ll follow for the People CMM will be similar to the path you’ll follow for CMMI. The difference is the People CMM covers workforce practices, and CMMI covers project practices.” The first pilot offering of the Intermediate Concepts course is scheduled for September 12-16, 2005 at the SEI.

Currently, the People CMM based assessment method is used for appraisals against the People CMM, and SCAMPI is used for appraisals against the CMMI framework. The SCAMPI appraisal method will allow appraisal teams to use one method for both People CMM and CMMI appraisals. With this change, appraisal teams will no longer need to learn two appraisal methods and organizations will be able to use lower cost appraisals (Class B and C) that don’t result in a maturity rating to determine if their workforce improvement efforts are succeeding. Wemyss says, “There was a pilot earlier this year at Tata Consultancy Services—India’s largest system and software services organization—where SCAMPI was used against the two models. It saved money because you didn’t need two teams, you didn’t need to train the team in two different methods, and you could do two appraisals at once.”


[Curtis 02]
Curtis, Bill; Hefley, William E.; and Miller, Sally A. The People Capability Maturity Model: Guidelines for Improving the Workforce. Boston, MA: Addison-Wesley, 2002.

[Curtis 03]
Curtis, Bill; Hefley, William E.; and Miller, Sally A. “Experiences Applying the People Capability Maturity Model.” Crosstalk (April 2003).

[Foster 05]
Foster, Ken. “Utilizing the People CMM to Leverage Organization Success.” Proceedings of Software Engineering Process Group (SEPG) Conference 2005 (CD-ROM). Seattle, WA, Mar. 7-10, 2005. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University, 2005.

[Miller 02]
Miller, Cecilia. “Practical Approaches to Initiating and Sustaining a Successful People CMM Effort.” Proceedings of Software Engineering Process Group (SEPG) Conference 2002 (CD-ROM). Phoenix, AZ, Feb. 18-21, 2002. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University, 2002.

Please note that current and future CMMI research, training, and information has been transitioned to the CMMI Institute, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Carnegie Mellon University.

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