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CMMI Training: Which Course Should I Choose?

Updated: Jun 6

With the release of CMMI V3.0 there are now two different entry-level certificated training options to choose from for people wishing to take an introductory course. So, which one is the best one to choose? To help you with this decision, we need to look at the specific training paths for each course and the reasons you are looking to undertake some training.

People undergo training in CMMI for many reasons; some people just want to find out a little more about the CMMI framework and maybe start to understand what it could do for them and their organizations; others hope to take part in or assist on a planned CMMI appraisal of their organization so need to satisfy the pre-requisites for being an appraisal team member. A smaller number of people may aspire to go on and take one of the more advanced CMMI certifications and become a CMMI Lead Appraiser or a CMMI Instructor. The training path you follow will need to take into account these different objectives, so it is vital that you make the right choice.

The Certified CMMI Associate Path

This is the older certification path that predates the new Version of the CMMI Model. To attain the CMMI Associate Certification, you need to pass the CMMI Associate exam and the course that prepares you for this exam is known as ‘Foundations of Capability’. This is a 2 day course which includes the exam fee within it. It only covers the common ‘core’ areas of the model in any detail; the 8 specialist domains that are now part of the model are not directly looked at. Once you complete the course and pass the Associate exam, you will be registered with ISACA as a certified CMMI Associate.

This will take you some way towards qualifying to be an appraisal team member but you will be required to undertake further training to fully qualify for this role. Specifically, appraisal team members need to be trained in the domain areas of the model that will be in scope for the appraisal they wish to participate in. Hence if you wish to be a team member on an appraisal that is looking at the development domain, you would need to take a separate course covering that domain. If you were going to be involved in an appraisal that covers both the service and development domains, then you would need to take two extra courses, one for each domain.

These domain specific courses are known as the ‘Building Excellence’ courses and each one is a one day course, so in terms of the training you would need to qualify to be an appraisal team member on an appraisal where both Development and service domains were in scope you would need to:

-          Take the 2 day Foundations of Capability Course

-          Take and pass the CMMI Associate Exam

-          Take the 1 Day Building Development Excellence Course

-          Take the 1 day Building Service Excellence Course

A total of 4 days training.

However, only the Development and Services domains have an associated ‘Building Excellence’ course, so if you wish to participate as a team member on a CMMI appraisal looking at any of the other 6 domains  (Data, People, Virtual, Safety, Security, Supplier), this training path will not be suitable for you.

Similarly, if you wish to go on and take more advanced CMMI Training and work towards becoming an instructor or lead appraiser, the Certified CMMI Associate path is not accepted as a valid route to these higher qualifications. To become either an instructor or lead appraiser you will need to follow the alternative ‘CMMI Practitioner’ certification path.

The Certified CMMI Practitioner Path

The CMMI Practitioner certification was introduced along with the latest version of the CMMI (V3.) and is the only foundational CMMI course that covers ALL the CMMI model core and specialist domains. To become a certified CMMI Practitioner, you will need to take a ‘Building Organizational Capability’ course (BOC) which will prepare you for the CMMI Practitioner exam. The BOC course is 4 days long and covers all 8 of the specialist domain areas. On completing the course, you will be given the opportunity to sit the CMMI Practitioner exam and when you pass this, you will be registered with ISACA as a Certified CMMI Practitioner.

At that point you will have completed all the training pre-requisites needed to qualify you to take part on a CMMI Appraisal covering any combination of the 8 domain areas.

The CMMI Practitioner certification is also a prerequisite for all follow- on advanced CMMI certification courses. As there is currently no ‘upgrade’ path from CMMI Associate to CMMI Practitioner, if you wish to go on to take any of the advanced certifications (e.g. CMMI Professional, Lead Appraiser, Instructor) you must complete the BOC course and pass the CMMI Practitioner exam.


Whilst the CMMI Associate path via the Foundations of Capability Course continues to provide a useful training option for people seeking to be an Appraisal Team Member on appraisals looking at just the Development or Services domains, The new Building Organizational Capability course is the only course that covers ALL of the 8 CMMI specialist domains and is now the only course that acts as the essential pre-requisite for further CMMI training.

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