Since many organizations have been using the Software CMM or the SECM, it is important to see how CMMI is the next generation of process improvement—a clear step forward and upward. There are unmistakable benefits to making the transition to CMMI products or to beginning process improvement using CMMI products instead of others.

CMMI provides more detailed coverage of the product life cycle than other process-improvement products used alone. For example, the engineering emphasis of CMMI has exceeded that found in the Software CMM. The process management emphasis of CMMI has exceeded that found in the SECM.

CMMI products incorporate many lessons that were learned during the development, maintenance, and use of the source models from which they were developed. Therefore, CMMI products have addressed some of the problems found in both the Software CMM and the SECM, for example.

Organizations that achieved maturity levels 4 or 5 using the Software CMM provided information to the SEI on their successes and difficulties. This information was used to develop more robust, high-level best practices in CMMI. Therefore, CMMI products better address the needs of organizations at higher maturity levels.

CMMI provides an opportunity to eliminate the stovepipes and barriers that typically exist in different parts of an organization and that typically are not addressed by other process-improvement models. The combination of useful information on engineering a product and proved practices for managing processes results in a set of well-integrated models that will facilitate project management and improve the development process—and the resulting products.

CMMI, which integrates software engineering and systems engineering into product engineering, is a valuable tool for many organizations. CMMI promotes collaboration between systems engineering and software engineering, thereby shifting the focus to the end product and its associated processes. Further, CMMI enables model and appraisal training to be simpler and more effective.

CMMI is valuable to organizations that produce software-only solutions. The systems engineering functions, not typically addressed in detail in other software-only models, are valuable to those producing software-only solutions. The handling of requirements, for example, is discussed in much more detail than in the Software CMM. Although not previously addressed in CMMs for software-only organizations, these practices use familiar terminology and model architecture and help to manage and prevent difficulties related to software requirements—a concept that is not new to many software organizations.

CMMI allows users to select the model representation (or both representations) that best suits their business objectives. The flexibility built into every CMMI model supports both staged and continuous approaches to process improvement with common terminology, architecture, and appraisal methods.

Although the initial focus of CMMI was on product and service engineering, CMMI was designed for other disciplines as well, thereby supporting enterprise-wide process improvement.

Like any other CMM, CMMI requires you to use professional judgment to interpret the information in Part Two. Although process areas describe behavior that should be exhibited in any organization, all practices must be interpreted using an in-depth knowledge of CMMI, the organization, the business environment, and the circumstances involved.