Many organizations use maturity models to measure and improve their performances. Maturity model allows an organization to have its methods and processes assessed according to best management practice and against a clear set of external benchmarks. Significant benefits have been realized by using these models for business improvement and in system development applications. However these models have two issues. First, most of these maturity models are very comprehensive and complicated for many organizations. Second, these models do not incorporate the full set of process improvement techniques and methods. Most models have been developed at the time of ‘Total Quality Management’ (TQM), but do not incorporate the full set of Lean and Six Sigma tools.
Improving processes within an organization is described by the ‘Continuous Improvement Maturity Model’ or CIMMTM. It is a framework that describes an approach of process improvement from creating a solid foundation to developing World Class products and services. CIMM incorporates the best practices, methods and techniques of process improvement, quality management and new product development. It includes elements from TQM, Kaizen, TPM, Lean, Six Sigma and Design for Six Sigma. CIMM is an open standard and is maintained by the ‘Lean Six Sigma Academy’ (LSSA).
The CIMM Model is not meant to replace other maturity models, but to support them. Same as most of the maturity models, CIMM includes five different levels. The CIMM Model can also be used as a stand-alone framework to guide the process of Continuous Improvement from a very early stage to the level of World Class. Choosing the proper process improvement method and tools depends on the actual maturity level of the organization. If an organization works on getting to the next level, it should also maintain the levels below. For instance if a company is aiming for ‘Capable’ processes, it should sustain the foundation, culture and predictability. In the following sections we will review each of the five levels briefly and explain the best way to achieve the next maturity level. The levels will be identified as ‘Continuous Improvement Level 1’ (CIMM Level-I) through to ‘Continuous Improvement Level 5’ (CIMM Level-V).