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The People Capability Maturity Model
By Tanuj Vohra - 2004-06-01 Page:  1 2 3

Levels of the P-CMM

The P-CMM, like other capability maturity models, is a staged model for organizational change. It consists of five maturity levels. Each successive level represents a higher level of organizational capability, created by implementing a new system of workforce practices and processes. The model helps establish a program that tightly integrates workforce development with process improvement. I will try to sum up my understanding of the P-CMM maturity levels as described in the book.

  1. Level 1 (Initial). Inconsistent practices, an emotionally detached workforce, and displacement of responsibility characterize this level. There is a lack of common vision about management responsibilities as well as high employee turnover.
  2. Level 2 (Managed). The goal of this level is to integrate basic management discipline into workforce activities through repeatable practices. Organizations focus on practices such as effective staff recruitment and equitable compensation, coordinating commitments, providing resources, and developing skills.
  3. Level 3 (Defined). At the defined level, organizations identify core competencies and align these with workforce activities. They develop an infrastructure by building on practices from the previous level, and tie the workforce's capability to strategic business objectives. The key process areas at this level are workforce planning, competency development, career development, performance alignment, knowledge and skill analysis, and a participatory culture.
  4. Level 4 (Predictable). At level four, organizations quantitatively manage organizational growth in workforce capabilities and establish competency-based teams. They exploit the capability created within the organization by implementing key processes such as mentoring, team building, team-based practices, organizational competency management, and organizational performance alignment. Organizations increase the level of predictability for their operations by following practices with measurable results that are supported by all levels of management.
  5. Level 5 (Optimizing level). Organizations need to continuously improve methods for developing personal and organizational competence to achieve this ultimate level. The entire organization focuses on continual improvements at this level -- and processes such as personal competency development, coaching, and workforce improvements help achieve this continuity.

The book explains these maturity levels well and makes them easy to understand. Although you can, on your own, sift through a lot of material about P-CMM that is available on the Web, the editors save you a lot of time by consolidating the most important points and carefully explaining the model's structure. They also emphasize that, across all the maturity levels, the model pursues the following strategic objectives:

  • Improve the capability of organizations by increasing the capability of their staff.
  • Ensure that software development capability is an attribute of the organization rather than of a few individuals.
  • Align the motivation of the staff with that of the organization.
  • Retain assets (people) within the organization.


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First published by IBM developerWorks


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