The Capability Maturity Models and their Usefulness for Organizations
Capability Maturity Models
When organizations want to be certified for their quality or operational excellence, they usually turn to quality frameworks like Six Sigma, Kaizen, or TQM. These are just representative of the different quality and operational excellence models and there are many other frameworks as well.
Similarly, there are process capability models like the SEI-CMM model (Software Engineering Institute - Capability Maturity Model) or the iCMM, which is specific to software companies, and the PCMM, which is an indicator of the HRM process capability or the people management capability.
All these models pertain to how well the organizations are mature in terms of the Processual aspects.
For instance, for a long time in the 1990s and the 2000s, many software companies made it a point to get themselves certified as SEI-CMM capable because the trend and the fad during those decades was for Processual maturity which was widely seen as an indicator of how well these companies managed their processes.
Apart from this, there were other drivers of change like the widespread perception that Asian software companies (especially in India) were not processual to the extent that the western companies were. This was the reason why the SEI-CMM model was widely adopted by Indian software companies as it was touted as a badge of Processual maturity.
The SEI-CMM Framework
These frameworks like the quality and the operational excellence frameworks were based on how defined and optimizing the companies were with respect to processes and maturity in terms of quality and operational excellence. The SEI-CMM model had five stages that were initial or undefined, repeatable, defined, managed, and optimizing that were deemed to indicate the extent to which the organizations processes were mature.
How Asian companies view the CMM Model
These stages were deemed indicators of how well the organization had matured in terms of process capability and how well the organization was engaging in process improvement with each iteration.
It is interesting to note that the trend of process maturity was seen by many in Asia as a worthy business model whereas some behemoths like Microsoft are still not process mature. The reason for this as advanced by some experts is that process maturity is not the holy grail of innovative companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple that thrived on instant improvement and improvisation.
When contrasted with the earlier assertion that this CMM framework was adopted widely in the East, the implication is that the Indian and Chinese companies were eager to portray themselves as being mature in terms of processes and saw this certification as a route to proving themselves to be on par with the western companies that were already mature according to the CMM framework.
Finally, certification according to the CMM model has its advantages, these outweigh the costs, and the time and effort put in by organizations to get themselves certified. This is because unlike the industry leaders who are anyway perceived to be role models despite not being certified, the Asian companies had a need to portray themselves as being process capable and process mature.
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