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Carnegie Mellon University introduced the Capability Maturity Model for Software (CMM); basically a process improvement approach to help software companies to improve their processes and also helped to measure how the software organizations "mature" or improve, in their ability to develop software.


I am not discussing about the SEI-CMM model here, but in general about the maturity of organizations in terms of Quality Systems which covers process and people. SEI -CMM offers a very scientific method of improving and assessing the maturity level of the organization.  I could \say that manufacturing industry is pretty mature in terms of quality systems compared to many other industries, because of the big focus on Quality and Systems for decades now, and continuous improvement through ISO 9000 and other industry specific standards.  However not all organizations certified to a particular standard or requirement are at the same level of maturity; and also different plants within the same organization could again be at different levels of maturity. In this article I am not attempting to define measures to look at maturity of the organization, but would urge managers to understand and gauge the maturity of the organizations in the best possible way. It may sound a bit abstract but one must attempt to benchmark the maturity levels of the organization, with similar organizations. 

SEI -CMM offers a very scientific method of improving and assessing the maturity level of the organization

Broadly we could look at how processes are defined and if it is executed consistently, the clarity of roles and responsibility, innovation and people engagement and enthusiasm.  Though this is very generic in nature, for a more explicit understanding I would suggest to look at the outcome of a Quality Systems audit. The numbers of non-conformances or requests for actions will not be a measure of the status, but the nature of issues and the verbal feedback from the auditors will give vital clues.  An experienced Operations person with knowledge of systems implementation will be able to obtain sufficient information by reviewing the quality systems audit reports and talking to the auditors and the personnel responsible for defining and implementing quality systems. The maturity of the Quality System Manger will have a direct impact on the maturity of the plant.  Also the quality system certification auditors will greatly help in taking the organizations to higher orbits of maturity.  During a recent visit to one of our plants in China, a round of discussion with the management representative  and a review on their internal and ISO certification auditors report gave me sufficient information to gauge the plants maturity vis-à-vis the other plants I work within our organization. 

The maturity of the systems and the plant brings a host of benefits to the organization, apart from business results and improved quality.  In a mature environment there is greater transparency, improved customer satisfaction and higher employee morale with more time for key staff for developmental activities than time being wasted on fire fighting.

Plant and business managers should be able to get an idea of the maturity of the system and people competencies and to see if they are in commensurate with the current and future business needs. If the leaders are not able to make an analysis by themselves, they should seek the help of an expert in this area and/or discuss with the third party certification auditors in order to get a good feed back on their organizations maturity.  If there are gaps, the leader must decide on bridging the gaps by driving new initiatives.  If the gaps are due to people capabilities, the same should be addressed by training or brining in new people to handle current challenges and take the organization to the next

Pradeep Kumar E.T. A Master Black Belt in Six Sigma , is the Country Manager- Operational Excellence with Tyco Electronics Corporation India Pvt Ltd. Feedback can be e- mailed to

Issue BG80 Nov07