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CMMI vs. Agile

Instructor: Olga Bugajenko

Olga is a registered PRINCE2 Practitioner and has a master's degree in project management.

Nowadays, there are many different project management methodologies, each with an array of supporters and critics. In this lesson, you will learn the key similarities and differences of Capability Maturity Model Integration and Agile.

What is CMMI?

Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) is a process improvement approach, which can be applied not only to projects, but also to departments or whole organizations. CMMI is used to access current organizational processes, set improvement goals and provide guidance for process improvement. It aims to standardize routine project management processes, such as risk, quality and resource management.

The main goal of CMMI is organizational improvement. It is focused on existing processes. Through observing the existing behaviours, CMMI informs the team about their current performance and strengths, as well as product performance in the marketplace. It helps to set business targets and improve results.

Through the observation of adopted practices, CMMI identifies the current maturity level of the organization. The changes to the processes and people training aim to bring the organization to a higher maturity level. There are five maturity levels, listed from the lowest to the highest: initial, managed, defined, quantitatively managed and optimizing.

CMMI approach is used across all industries, both in private and public sector. GE Aviation has reported achieving CMMI Level 3 (Defined) in delivering aviation software, which means that the software development process is secure and reliable. CMMI is used by a number of governments, including US and UK, to support economic development. A US government agency reported 34% increase in software productivity after implementing CMMI to improve the hiring and training processes, reduce project cost overruns and increase the adoption of latest technology.

What is Agile?

Agile is a software development methodology that breaks down the development process into iterations, known as sprints. The goal of each iteration is to produce a shippable product that can be handed over to a customer. The method is focused on the product quality, and does not include risk, quality and other management processes. The most popular Agile methodology type is called Scrum.

There are 12 fundamental Agile principles, summarized in an Agile Manifesto. The focus of Agile principles in on simplicity of the process, self-management and motivation of the team, product quality and flexibility. In contrast to CMMI, Agile is not focused on the existing processes, but instead on creating new processes and products.

For each sprint in Agile, a list of tasks is created and assigned to a cross-functional team. The daily progress is tracked against the original workload estimations. This is different from CMMI, where no detailed planning is carried out.

Main differences between CMMI and Agile
CMMI vs. Agile

Different, Yet Similar

Though CMMI and Agile might now seem to you as completely different methods with different goals, they were originally created with the same aim: to improve project performance. While CMMI tries to improve organizational processes to positively impact project results, Agile methodology raises the chances of project success by added flexibility and through adapting to changing project requirements.

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