CMMI Adoption Trends


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

Process Improvement

This article was originally published in News at SEI on: December 1, 2003

Since the release of the CMMI Product Suite in January 2002, organizations in the systems and software communities have demanded credible evidence about the adoption, impact, and benefits of CMMI-based process improvement.

Until recently, little of such evidence was publicly available. In November, however, the SEI published the first CMMI Maturity Profile, which shows the latest CMMI adoption trends, and a special report describing how several organizations are implementing CMMI models with significant positive results. Both publications are available through the SEI Web site.

Initial appraisal data reported to the SEI show that a variety of organizations from different industries and environments are rapidly upgrading to the new models, that users are implementing the full range of model scopes and representations offered, and that organizations around the globe are enjoying high levels of process maturity through use of CMMI models.

Rapid Adoption Worldwide

A maturity profile shows how an improvement method, such as a CMMI model, is being adopted worldwide based on SEI-authorized appraisal results. Data are presented in a series of graphs and bar charts by organization type, size, location, maturity level, and other characteristics. The first CMMI Maturity Profile is based on 100 Standard CMMI Appraisal Method for Process Improvement (SCAMPI) V1.1 appraisals using CMMI V1.1 models that were conducted between April 2002 and June 2003.

According to SEI data, 93 different organizations have performed a CMMI appraisal (some more than once). A breakdown by “organizational type” follows:

  • Commercial/In-House 47.3%
  • DoD/Federal Contractor 45%
  • Military/Federal   7.7%

“The above figures show roughly equal adoption of CMMI by organizations in the commercial and government sectors,” says Dave Zubrow, the SEI manager who helps to produce maturity profiles. Regarding the size of the organizations conducting these appraisals, 50% have from 1 to 200 employees, and 50% have 201 or more employees—reflecting use among small and medium-to-large organizations alike.

Another view of adoption is to look at the geographic distribution. The countries and the number of organizations appraised using CMMI models follows:



United Kingdom
South Korea


These data show that 54, or 54%, of the appraisals were conducted from outside of the United States. As a point of comparison, 52% of the organizations included in the latest Capability Maturity Model for Software (SW-CMM) Maturity Profile are from outside of the United States. “Apparently, CMMI is achieving a level of international adoption in the short time that it has been available comparable to that recently reached by the SW-CMM,” Zubrow said. The SW-CMM has been available for about 10 years.

A Variety of Scopes and Representations

Organizations can choose from several different CMMI models when designing a process improvement program, including CMMI for Software, CMMI for Systems and Software Engineering (SE/SW), CMMI SE/SW with integrated product and process development (IPPD), and CMMI SE/SW with IPPD and Supplier Sourcing. Zubrow said that every variety of model was represented in the maturity profile.

There are also two model representations from which organizations may choose: staged and continuous. The staged approach predefines the process areas required to attain each maturity level (1-5) and thereby provides a roadmap for institutionalizing best practices. Organizations that are upgrading from the SW-CMM, a staged-only model, are likely to prefer staged.

In the continuous representation, process areas are organized into four process area categories: Process Management, Project Management, Engineering, and Support. Based on its business objectives, an organization selects the process areas in which it wants to improve and to what degree. Instead of organizational maturity levels, capability levels (0-5) for each process area are used to measure improvement.

Since the release of CMMI V1.1, approximately one-third of the Introduction to CMMI course attendees have selected the continuous version of the course, and nearly one-fourth of all SCAMPI appraisal results reported to the SEI have been from organizations using the continuous representation.

Other Findings

Zubrow says that, overall, the new CMMI Maturity Profile depicts a relatively mature set of organizations. “The data suggest that the early adopters tend to be a more process-mature group than the community at large,” he says. “The CMMI Product Suite with its options and flexibility should reach a broader audience and help create a global community of process improvement for those involved in the development, maintenance, and acquisition of software-intensive systems.”

The CMMI Maturity Profile is available online.

Benefits Case Studies

The special report that was recently published, Demonstrating the Impact and Benefits of CMMI: An Update and Preliminary Results, describes the experiences of organizations that have decided to implement CMMI. The 12 case studies in the report, covering organizations such as Accenture, the Boeing Company, General Motors, and Bosch, demonstrate the impact that CMMI-based process improvement has on each organization’s performance. The case studies feature initial evidence that adoption of CMMI can result in decreased project costs, increased schedule predictability, improved product quality, increased customer satisfaction, and a positive return on investment.

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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