There is no level 0 in the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), but there ought to be. Actually, there is no CMM either, at least in theory. It was replaced by the CMMI - Capability Maturity Model Integration - several years ago. However, the CMM has been so successful that it survived its own official demise.

The CMM describes a scale of effectiveness for software development processes. The scale begins with level 1, which is termed “initial,” and goes up to level 5, which is “optimizing.” Organizations at level 1 do not really have any software development processes. Things are done in an ad hoc fashion but can get done, albeit often exceeding budgets and delivery dates. To be successful at level 1 usually requires the participation of what are termed “heroes” - very intelligent people who work hard for long hours. Such an approach is not scalable and is often not sustainable in the long run. However, the peculiar things that happen at level 1 are perhaps the most interesting aspect of the CMM. Those who have experienced this level might be tempted to ask if there is anything worse. There may be.

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