Generic elements are called “generic” because the same statement applies to multiple process areas. A generic element describes the characteristics that must be present to institutionalize the processes that implement a process area.



This section describes in detail all the generic goals and generic practices of CMMI—model components that directly address process institutionalization. As you address each process area, refer to this section for the details of all generic practices. Generic practice elaborations appear after generic practices to provide guidance on how the generic practice can be applied uniquely to process areas.

Process Institutionalization

Institutionalization is an important concept in process improvement. When mentioned in the generic goal and generic practice descriptions, institutionalization implies that the process is ingrained in the way the work is performed and there is commitment and consistency to performing (i.e., executing) the process.

An institutionalized process is more likely to be retained during times of stress. When the requirements and objectives for the process change, however, the implementation of the process may also need to change to ensure that it remains effective. The generic practices describe activities that address these aspects of institutionalization.

The degree of institutionalization is embodied in the generic goals and expressed in the names of the processes associated with each goal as indicated in Table 6.1.

Generic Goal Progression of Processes
GG 1 Performed process
GG 2 Managed process
GG 3 Defined process

Performed Process

A performed process is a process that accomplishes the work necessary to satisfy the specific goals of a process area.

Managed Process

A managed process is a performed process that is planned and executed in accordance with policy; employs skilled people having adequate resources to produce controlled outputs; involves relevant stakeholders; is monitored, controlled, and reviewed; and is evaluated for adherence to its process description.

The process can be instantiated by a project, group, or organizational function. Management of the process is concerned with institutionalization and the achievement of other specific objectives established for the process, such as cost, schedule, and quality objectives. The control provided by a managed process helps to ensure that the established process is retained during times of stress.

The requirements and objectives for the process are established by the organization. The status of the work products and services are visible to management at defined points (e.g., at major milestones, on completion of major tasks). Commitments are established among those who perform the work and the relevant stakeholders and are revised as necessary. Work products are reviewed with relevant stakeholders and are controlled. The work products and services satisfy their specified requirements.

A critical distinction between a performed process and a managed process is the extent to which the process is managed. A managed process is planned (the plan can be part of a more encompassing plan) and the execution of the process is managed against the plan. Corrective actions are taken when the actual results and execution deviate significantly from the plan. A managed process achieves the objectives of the plan and is institutionalized for consistent execution.

Defined Process

A defined process is a managed process that is tailored from the organization’s set of standard processes according to the organization’s tailoring guidelines; has a maintained process description; and contributes process related experiences to the organizational process assets.

Organizational process assets are artifacts that relate to describing, implementing, and improving processes. These artifacts are assets because they are developed or acquired to meet the business objectives of the organization and they represent investments by the organization that are expected to provide current and future business value.

The organization’s set of standard processes, which are the basis of the defined process, are established and improved over time. Standard processes describe the fundamental process elements that are expected in the defined processes. Standard processes also describe the relationships (e.g., the ordering, the interfaces) among these process elements. The organization-level infrastructure to support current and future use of the organization’s set of standard processes is established and improved over time. (See the definition of “standard process” in the glossary.)

A project’s defined process provides a basis for planning, performing, and improving the project’s tasks and activities. A project can have more than one defined process (e.g., one for developing the product and another for testing the product).

A defined process clearly states the following:
  • Purpose
  • Inputs
  • Entry criteria
  • Activities
  • Roles
  • Measures
  • Verification steps
  • Outputs
  • Exit criteria

A critical distinction between a managed process and a defined process is the scope of application of the process descriptions, standards, and procedures. For a managed process, the process descriptions, standards, and procedures are applicable to a particular project, group, or organizational function. As a result, the managed processes of two projects in one organization can be different.

Another critical distinction is that a defined process is described in more detail and is performed more rigorously than a managed process. This distinction means that improvement information is easier to understand, analyze, and use. Finally, management of the defined process is based on the additional insight provided by an understanding of the interrelationships of the process activities and detailed measures of the process, its work products, and its services.

Relationships Among Processes

The generic goals evolve so that each goal provides a foundation for the next. Therefore, the following conclusions can be made:
  • A managed process is a performed process.
  • A defined process is a managed process.

Thus, applied sequentially and in order, the generic goals describe a process that is increasingly institutionalized from a performed process to a defined process.

Achieving GG 1 for a process area is equivalent to saying you achieve the specific goals of the process area. Achieving GG 2 for a process area is equivalent to saying you manage the execution of processes associated with the process area. There is a policy that indicates you will perform the process. There is a plan for performing it. There are resources provided, responsibilities assigned, training on how to perform it, selected work products from performing the process are controlled, and so on. In other words, the process is planned and monitored just like any project or support activity.

Achieving GG 3 for a process area is equivalent to saying that an organizational standard process exists that can be tailored to result in the process you will use. Tailoring might result in making no changes to the standard process. In other words, the process used and the standard process can be identical. Using the standard process “as is” is tailoring because the choice is made that no modification is required. Each process area describes multiple activities, some of which are repeatedly performed. You may need to tailor the way one of these activities is performed to account for new capabilities or circumstances. For example, you may have a standard for developing or obtaining organizational training that does not consider web-based training. When preparing to develop or obtain a web-based course, you may need to tailor the standard process to account for the particular challenges and benefits of web-based training.

Generic Goals and Generic Practices

This section describes all of the generic goals and generic practices, as well as their associated subpractices, notes, examples, and references. The generic goals are organized in numerical order, GG 1 through GG 3. The generic practices are also organized in numerical order under the generic goal they support.


Capability Level 0 Incomplete
An incomplete process is a process that either is not performed or is partially performed. One or more of the specific g…
Capability Level 1 Performed
A capability level 1 process is characterized as a performed process.
Capability Level 2 Managed (CMMI-ACQ)
A capability level 2 process is characterized as a managed process.
Capability Level 3 Defined (CMMI-ACQ)
A capability level 3 process is characterized as a defined process.