Home Project Management General Project Management Maturity Models CMMI and OPM3 A Powerful Combination for Increasing Organisational Maturity
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CMMI and OPM3 A Powerful Combination for Increasing Organisational Maturity Print
Many organizations today are struggling to become more mature in the evolution of their business processes. A large percentage of those organizations are turning toward maturity models to provide roadmaps that enable them to become more capable.

Two of the more popular maturity models are the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)© models from the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) and the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3)© from the Project Management Institute (PMI). Most organizations that have adopted either of these models have selected one or the other as their sole mechanism for change. Like the combination of a hammer and chisel, combining these two tools can produce an even more powerful force for driving change through organizations than the use of just one on its own.

Maturity Models

Organizations using maturity models would like to become more mature, or make progress towards a perfected state. Maturity models serve as reference points for an organization to assess itself against (or for external assessors to assess against) best practices in a particular discipline or disciplines. The models typically show capabilities of an organization in a less mature state and further attributes and traits of those organizations in a more mature state. As an organization attains more capabilities, they can become more mature. Some maturity models provide limited guidance on how to become more mature, and most of the content builds on itself as the users move toward higher levels of maturity. Most, if not all, maturity models (over 30 in publication today), should not be considered methodologies, or tools that buyers can just start 'doing' in their organizations the day that they are purchased. Each needs to be carefully analyzed to understand how it can help the organization become more mature.


The most comprehensive CMMI model produced by the SEI is the CMMI for Systems Engineering/Software Engineering/Integrated Product and Process Development/Supplier Sourcing. As its name states, this model focuses on the disciplines of engineering, software engineering, integrated product and process development and supplier sourcing. The model also provides guidance on process management and project management. This CMMI model is designed to help organizations improve their product and service development, acquisition, and maintenance processes. The staged representation of the model supports 5 levels of maturity, and the continuous representation supports 6 levels of capability. Model components include practice areas, specific and generic goals, sub-practices, and typical work products. For more information on CMMI, visit the SEI website at http://%20www.sei.cmu.edu/cmmi


OPM3 was published by PMI in December, 2003. The goal of the standard is to provide organizations with a tool that will allow them to become more capable of executing strategies through projects. OPM3 splits the broad concept of organizational project management into three domains - project management, program management, and portfolio management. In order to effectively use OPM3 to improve maturity, organizations are directed to first read the Knowledge Foundation which describes the domains, model components, processes, and construction. Then organizations can perform an assessment. Based on the results of the assessment that show organizations where they are in relation to an overall organizational project management continuum, they can choose to make improvements based on direction from the model. Model components include best practices, capabilities, outcomes and key performance indicators. For more information on OPM3, visit the PMI website at www.pmi.org/


Based on these brief summaries, you can already start to see that there are overlaps in the content coverage:
- Both CMMI and OPM3 have a concentration in project management (some of the specific PM topics like planning and risk management also overlap).
- Both also stress the improvement of processes to achieve a higher state of maturity.
- Both use an assessment process in order to determine the current state of maturity.
- Both stress setting a target state of maturity and developing a plan to achieve that target before starting on the path to improvement.
Pointing out these overlaps does not suggest that these are redundant models. It shows that users of the models can quickly come to a common understanding of how the models can support improvement initiatives by focusing on what they both share.


While CMMI and OPM3 do share some similar traits, they are two unique products that serve organizations in different ways. While not a tool for developing strategy, OPM3 provides a way for organizations to become more capable of executing strategy. The way that all of the work and resources are managed is through portfolio management, a domain of organizational project management covered by OPM3. The organization's portfolio is made up of projects, programs and other operational activities. Again OPM3 provides guidance on how to manage these activities. Some of the most critical projects and programs are going to involve developing or acquiring products or services. As products and services become more and more complex (particularly those with software technology), it will be crucial for organizations to be able to execute those projects in a disciplined, repeatable, constantly improving manner. CMMI can help organizations achieve the maturity necessary for them to be successful.

Case Study - CMMI and OPM3 Together

The following example is based on real-life events. Actual organization and people names have been replaced to protect the innocent.

It was a cold December day at CIOPM Company, a supplier of electronic gizmos and widgets.
Charlie Integration, the Continuous Improvement Manager (CIM), Penny Opportunity, Director of the Project Management Office (PMO), and Clyde Onomatopoeia, Chief Operations Office (COO), were doing their planning for the following year.
They had just completed their first OPM3 workshop and self-assessment and they were looking at the results.
Penny was pleased that they showed that CIOPM was very capable of delivering individual projects and also very capable of combining projects that have dependencies between them and managing them as a whole using program management techniques.
Clyde said, "I am disappointed that I don't have more aggregate information as a whole about the work of our company." He also didn't like how projects often 'popped up' and just started without any governance.
The OPM3 results confirmed CIOPM was weak in portfolio management. Clyde asked Charlie to work with Penny to increase CIOPM's capability in that area and approved resources to do so.

By the end of February, things were looking promising.
Penny and Charlie were able to define both projects and programs for the company and had loaded all of the projects and programs into their portfolio management system. The manager for each of these initiatives now reported their status directly into the tool. Penny provided monthly reports to Clyde on how his portfolio was doing, and he was thrilled with the information and was making suggestions to improve it.
Then one day Clyde called Charlie into his office. He reported, "Our largest customer is demanding that CIOPM be CMMI Level 3 by the end of the year or we can't bid on the multi-billion dollar Super Gizmo project!"
Charlie said, "My team had studied CMMI with the engineering division before, and we used it to drive changes in our process. We never sought a maturity level ranking before since it wasn't part of our improvement goals." They still needed to find out where they were to see if they could make Level 3 by the end of the year…

CIOPM used some funding from the continuous improvement budget reserve to engage a CMMI Lead appraiser for a preliminary appraisal.
The results showed that they were strong in several areas (especially Project Planning, Monitoring and Control), but weak in Requirements Development and Configuration Management, two big process areas for Level 3. As part of their new governance process, Penny, Charlie and Clyde, looked at the changes that needed to be made as a new project opportunity. They decided to postpone a Six Sigma project until the next year and use those resources to support achieving CMMI goals.
Charlie was disappointed, but agreed that the data showed that this was the right decision. They chartered the improvement project with a goal to complete it by November with a formal CMMI appraisal scheduled for December.

The August portfolio status showed that of all the projects, the CMMI based improvement project was in danger.
The team just wasn't getting the necessary resources to support the final improvements to the Requirements Development process. The issue was escalated all the way to Clyde who, after consulting Penny and Charlie, pulled resources from a project that was less priority and performing well and assigned them to this project. "We need to do this one right - our business depends on it!" exclaimed Clyde.

Shortly after, the team decided to move forward with the official CMMI appraisal.
Part of the planning process involved describing all of the projects in the organization and their status so representative projects could be selected. "Good thing we increased our portfolio management capability," chimed Penny. "That's a piece of cake now."
In December, CIOPM Gizmo Engineering Division was formally appraised at CMMI Level 3, much to the delight of the team and their customer. To finish the year, CIOPM conducted another OPM3 self assessment. Not only did their portfolio management capabilities go up, but so did their project and program management due to the work they did for CMMI. Bonuses for everyone!
As they celebrated at the annual holiday party, Charlie claimed, "We can't waste too much time patting ourselves on the back. Both CMMI and OPM3 have capabilities in them that we haven't achieved yet, and our competitors will be working on them as well.
There is always a better way to do things." Penny and Clyde both had a glazed look in there eyes as they nodded their heads and starting thinking about more improvements for next year.


Both CMMI and OPM3 have a lot to offer organizations on their own as improvement tools.
Organizations that can combine the use of these tools together can really provide organizations with breadth and depth in capabilities that are critical for success in today's marketplace.

ClearView Solutions has helped clients in various industries achieve their CMMI and OPM3 goals. Maybe they can help you combine the power of these two models to drive positive change through your organization.

Tom Keuten © 2005 All rights reserved.


Tom Keuten is a Partner with ClearView Solutions, LLC, located in Troy, Michigan. He leads their Program & Project Management practice. For the past eight years, he has used his strong business acumen to develop thoughtful and insightful ideas for clients in the areas of technology project management, business operations, finance, strategy and product development. Tom’s expertise lies in helping organizations execute on strategic initiatives. He has helped many companies take key strategies and then develop implementation plans and then drive teams to successful results.

Tom is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, and a graduate of University of Notre Dame with a Master of Business Administration. Tom is a PMI certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Management Consultant (CMC). He was an integral part of the leadership team that oversaw the development of PMI’s Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3). He is trained in performing the Capability Maturity Model Integration Class A, Class B, and Class C Appraisals, in addition to training in Comprehensive Appraisal Methodology.

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