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Why is People Capability Maturity Model Necessary?

~ By ExecutiveBrief

Five maturity levels concept

The Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute developed the People Capability Maturity Model (P-CMM) to help businesses manage knowledge workers across global borders, as well as between greying and millennial generations. Similar to CMMI, P-CMM has five maturity levels, but the model is focused on the need to improve the capabilities of a workforce as a differentiating factor from the competition.

In a highly competitive global business, recruiting talents with technical skills is not enough anymore. On top of their technical competencies, workers must have the necessary business skills, particularly in making decisions that are not only technically sound, but also consistent with the visions of their organisations. Moreover, as organisations' internal processes mature, so should workers' decision-making and implementation proficiency. In fact, P-CMM was developed to develop workers' competencies according to the needs of process maturity levels.

Many organisations' practices have matured over time particularly in the area of software engineering. However, practitioners observed that workers must appreciate their roles and responsibilities in the larger organisation. This is where P-CMM comes in. Human resources and workforce managers used to hire workers on the strength of technical knowledge alone; but in order to harness the technical knowledge of workers into tangible products (for example: a piece of software), managers have realised that staff development within the company must be compatible with internal process improvements.

In a nutshell, it means helping workers help top managers steer project processes according to current and target capability levels and project directions, as well as providing a framework for optimising employee competencies for greater measurable value. For human resources and worker development practitioners, P-CMM serves as a framework for developing employees from mere knowledge workers to knowledge managers.

To do so, it is important to always revisit P-CMM's five-level capability architecture. Most organisations with little to no established internal processes, aside perhaps from those related to administrative matters, manage employee development in mostly ad-hoc fashion where workers are designated to positions and projects without much consideration for the impact on the long-term vision of the company.

Organisations that have achieved a certain level of maturity assign people development to immediate managers. There is still a certain degree of arbitrariness at this level, but the role that employees play in the smaller organisation (for example, a project team or a department) is being reviewed and measured according to agreed-upon standards that managers expect from their subordinates. The focus is mostly on the performance of workers, not on the long-term competency development.

Things change for the better as participation is encouraged among workers. Career path and competency development gain more attention from top management, while collaborative activities are encouraged among staff members. Planning and analysis according to organisational goals are introduced in the people management process.

As people continue to gain further competencies through training and mentoring, it is expected that they become empowered to eventually make professional and organisation decisions. The workforce as a whole should develop integrated or complementary competencies and be able to manage their skill sets at organisational level. They must be able to make (or suggest) decisions based on what they know and the processes established within their organisations.

When organisations have developed integrated capability sets among workers, it is then that they can continue to innovate products, services, and processes. Innovation is nearly impossible when the people who should be championing new directions in their business domains have no clear course on how they can get from the basic service delivery level to top-class product development. Moreover, poaching by competing firms and high turn-over can be prevented if employees understand the value of their place and contribution to the organisation.


ExecutiveBrief, the technology management resource for business leaders, offers proven tips, techniques, and action plans that companies can use to better manage people, processes and tools - the keys to improving their business performance. For more information visit us at: SoftServe United Blog


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