How to Achieve Level 5 Maturity for QA and Testing Process

This article explains what are CMM levels and how to  achieve these CMM levels for QA processes, explained with best examples.

For any process whether it is a QA process, development process or any non-technical process, there are levels of its maturity. By levels of maturity we mean that the level of formality and processes improvement, like ad-hoc processes – to formally defined steps – to managed result metrics – to optimization of the processes.

CMM (Capability Maturity Model) is process based model which is used to assess the maturity of an organization for different domains. Although this model is normally termed as the software development model but eventually it was used for other processes as well like QA and testing.

It has 5 different levels of maturity from 1 to 5. As we go towards level 5 from 1, variability and inconsistency reduces. Below are the details of 5 levels. Here we will go through the 5 CMM levels with respect to QA process and what all output/result is expected for each level to mature a QA/testing process and reach up to level 5.

CMM Levels

Level 1 – Ad-Hoc: Unplanned, unsystematic, and inconsistent

As the word ‘Ad-Hoc’ states: unplanned, unprepared, at this level significance is not given to planning, following processes, guidelines and standards. There is no standardized & consistent way of doing any task. The only thing which is important at this level is meeting the timelines, irrespective of the quality of the end product and deliverables.

As there are no pre-defined standards and processes, same task is done in different ways by different people.

And this becomes even more unsystematic and inconsistent if same task is done differently next time.

Example –
QA – The example would be that in an organization although QA is 1 of the phases in a product life cycle but there are not any standard & no process defined, no templates for QA deliverables like plan, strategy, scenarios, and cases are standardized. Even if these are documented then all team members have their own way of doing it and not consistent at all.

Level 2 – Control: initiate defining processes at high level:

Solution to the problem which we saw at Level 1 of unavailability of QA processes, methodology & standards would be to have all these in place. The standards and processes are not only finalized but also are well documented, so that those can be re-used by any one for similar task.


Example –
QA – Define overall QA process and methodology for different types of testing like functional, data, performance etc. Define the role of a QA engineer in project’s life cycle and prepare templates for deliverables in each phase. Not only define and prepare rather share within team

Level 3 – Core Competency: Come up with a generalized process for wider audience and domains:

At this level 3, people are motivated to follow the standards and processes defined at level 2. For this first of all the processes need to be conveyed to all people and need to identify what all skills are needed to use those effectively and efficiently and also if any training is required for that and then motivated and supported to follow those standards and processes. Here people having more experience share their knowledge with others.

Example –
QA – Conduct webinars and training sessions to let people get acquainted about the newly defined QA process and standards and motivate them to make use of those during their day to day project’s life

Level 4 – Predictable: Measure the processes

At this level processes defined at level 3 are measured quantitatively. This is done to control the effort required on any task. Based on this quantitative analysis, processes can be adjusted if needed, and that to without degrading the quality of the end product. Analysis is done by dividing complete process into smaller sub-processes and then quantitative techniques are applied on these sub-processes and as per the result, sub-processes are adjusted if needed. This level is called predictable as based on prior experience; we can predict the process quantitatively and make use of that for the upcoming processes.

Example –
QA – Performing regular audits would be a good idea here. This can include to check if teams are actually following the processes defined, using the standard templates, adhere to methodology or not.

Level 5 – Innovative: Continuous Improvement

At this level, innovative ways are identified to further improve the pre-defined processes and standards. This is a continuous process. For this our own processes are watched and re-engineered continuously by adding new tools technologies, by continuous studies and by keeping ourselves updated with new information in the market. This can also be achieved by benchmarking other organizations and learn from them and try to improve our process by adding new innovations to it.

Example –
QA – Keep on improving the methodology, processes defined based on prior audit results.

Based on some studies it has been concluded that the organizations at level 1 may spend $1000 for any particular task then for the same task organization at level 5 needs to spend $10.

After going though all 5 levels mentioned above, looks like reaching up to level 3 is difficult. Once it achieved then next levels are not too far and difficult to achieve :)

This is a guest article by Meenal Balajiwale
Meenal is working as a Team lead in a MNC. She is specialized in overall QA process for performing functional, data, performance and security testing. Worked on Waterfall and Agile models. Have worked on BI testing, web testing, data quality as well.

Please feel free to post your queries in below comments.

Recommended reading


#1 Nitin Desai

I saw many posts on this CMM topic but this is the first time I see how to actually implement QA processes to get CMM level standards. Nice examples for CMM relation with quality assurance.
thanks for sharing.

#2 Moorthy

Article was good, with examples you have clearly explained the CMM. Most of the small scale IT companies are following the Ad-Hoc process. By following the process companies can reach the next level.

Moorthy H

#3 Abdul Haq Khan

Article is quite good would have been better if it was more detailed.I would say it is just an abstract view of practices and processes.
AH Khan

#4 mahendran

Soooooooooo Gooooood

#5 Natalya

Nice article! I got to know useful information. I will apply your recomendation in my work.

#6 Meenal

Thanks all! I am glad to see your encouraging comments.

#7 Kaushik Srinivas

Very good and nice spelling in the article that may reach every one reading. Better if with the levels may be a statistical images. All the way very good .

#8 Tech Impulsion

10 commandments of software testing

#9 raju

Good article about CMM, thanks a lot.

#10 jyoti

Nice one

#11 Sangram Kumar Das

Nice Article about the CMM Lavel. It give a complete idea how the step by step process are going on. Nice examples for CMM lavel relation with quality assurance.

#12 saar

hi. i am sagar. I am textile engg. I have 2 yrs experience in textile. but now i want to do software testing from pune.
Can I get the job? which institute i should choose,seeds or SQTL. pls help me out.

#13 Sagar Patil

Awesome.. article…

This provides the complete detail structure …

#14 Sethu

I am 6 years exp manual tester with 1.6 years in silk performer and silk test.
Have worked in unix,sql,web testing.
Mail me at if there is any job opening in your company

#15 Rajivdh

JavaOne 2012 is apparently being held at Hyderabad this year as well (3-4 May). They have also started accepting registrations. Check this: ).

#16 Steven Devonport


I think this is a good overview of moving between the different levels however what’s not explained is how long it can take to reach the next level; Also it’s not explained how much time, effort and money is needed to achieve the next level.


#17 Nagendra

Article was good.As a fresher how can u say the testing is the important at the software industry?

#18 Amol


I am in manual testing from last 2 years and want to enter in automation which scripts are need to study to start?

#19 shital

Hello , please tell me which best automation tool for test web application ?

#20 George


Could you post a detailed write-up on Testing Maturity Model (TMM).

#21 Kaushik


S he article is good in outlisting the SPM stages and QA. Well done.

#22 Mohan

Hi , this is very nice article about the CMM Level.Really i got good idea about CMM Level, thaks for sharing this..

#23 isaac L

Processes for people to follow are like laws. 1. there have to be laws in place that are defined. 2. people have to be willing to follow the laws, and 3. there must be enforcement and penalty for not following the laws. Given that, it seems you are putting in place 1. but how to convince people to follow the processes? You say in 3 to put the processes out to a wider audiences through training… but everyone says they are too busy right? then what?

#24 lalit

Really fruitful….a good article, but all that i say if some more example make it best….

#25 Meenal

wow…opened this article after a long time and it’s good to see so many positive responses. I am glad I could put together something which is useful and fruitful.

@Steven (# 16)..well time required is I guess up to us…how fast and how effective we incorporate all these levels in our organization. And as it is said ‘charity begins at home’ so we can take initiative to improve our own day to day work using this stuff…I am sure that will lead to improve overall organization’s standard and processes. Please let all of us know your valuable thoughts on the same.

@George (#20)…Thanks for suggesting me a new topic to write about. I will get information on that and try to put some stuff here.

@isaac L (#23)…yes even I have faced same issue…people normally follow what has been going on since long and it is difficult for them too to adopt a new thing. But we should keep motivating them. Let’s move forward step by step. Such changes do not occur over night. If we are at level 1, target for level 2 for say for a project first, then move to level 3 and so on. We have to develop first acceptance for this change among people. Once they see better results out of it, they will definitely put efforts for this. This I am telling from my personal experience. Please let me know your thoughts on the same.

I have tried to answers all questions here…if in case I have missed any then please let me know. I will share my thoughts for sure.

Thanks you so much all who have recognized my work here. This motivates me to put more information. Thank you all!!!

#26 Meenal

@ Lalit (#24)…Some thoughts are in my mind to put a generic example so that every body can relate. I will post asap. Thanks!

#27 Rakesh

Hi, Amol

I think you must first go for QTP (very famous functional testing tool).

#28 Rachana

Hi I Rachana Panchal wanted to become a QA Auditor. Currently, I am in software company working as Sr. QA. I have 4 + yrs of experience in the software testing and QA processes.

#29 tester


#30 dev

thanks… very helpful for us

#31 Naveen

can anybody tell me which is the best software training institute in bangalore which also have the placements assistance, this is mail id, thanks in advance.

thanks and Regards
Naveen Kumar T S

#32 Kumar

Hi Vijay

Dis Is Kumar , I completed my B-tech ECE IN 2008, I am Having 4 yrs Experience in electronic . i resigned my jobs . i want to join in software tesing . i completed testing course both manual and automation in Hyderabad. can i mention my experience in resume or not? please give me suggest.

thanks and regards

#33 Roshin

Good One!!!!!!

#34 Landy


Good articles, One thing is to one QA person can start career or learning CMM and which kind of job he can find after this…
-How to start with CMMI
-From Manual Testing or Automation testing point of view …
– What are the target course
– Which kind of job in market.
Pleaseupdate me one my email address if you add anything liket his.

#35 Himanshu


This is really a good article to understand about CMMI levels. Right now I am working as Configuration Manager in a company from last 4 yrs. I want to change my profile from CM to QA auditor ( I also have 1.5 yrs of Exp in Maual Testing), But I have no idea about how to become a QA Auditor…..! Can you please guide me about the respective certifications and courses i should do to change my profile.

#36 Amit

Nice article , showing very simple & easy way to know about CMM.

Thanks for sharing.

#37 zakaria bentahar

Nice article and nice idea ;)

#38 Meenal Balajiwale

Hi All,

Thanks for your comments, you all motivate me to write more and one more article of mine has been published. Please take a look at it:

Your suggestions are warmly welcome.

Thanks & Regards,
Meenal Balajiwale

#39 Sada

On Level 4, Measuring the process is not audit alone. As per Industry standards we need to come up with Metrics, which is key and critical to measure the project performance. Need to measure the project/product metrics against the Industry specified metrics, to take corrective action. In fact defining and usage of Metrics comes from Level 3 onwards.

Leave a Comment