Elicit and categorize suggested improvements.


This practice focuses on eliciting suggested improvements and includes categorizing suggested improvements as incremental or innovative.

Incremental improvements generally originate with those who do the work (i.e., users of the process or technology). Incremental improvements can be simple and inexpensive to implement and deploy. Incremental improvement suggestions are analyzed, but, if selected, may not need rigorous validation or piloting. Innovative improvements such as new or redesigned processes are more transformational than incremental improvements.

Innovative improvements often arise out of a systematic search for solutions to particular performance issues or opportunities to improve performance. They are identified by those who are trained and experienced with the maturation of particular technologies or whose job it is to track or directly contribute to increased performance.

Innovations can be found externally by actively monitoring innovations used in other organizations or documented in the research literature. Innovations can also be found by looking internally (e.g., by examining project lessons learned). Innovations are inspired by the need to achieve quality and process performance objectives, the need to improve performance baselines, or the external business environment.


Examples of incremental improvements include the following:
  • Adding an item to a peer review checklist.
  • Combining the technical review and management review for suppliers into a single review.
  • Introducing an incident workaround.
  • Substituting a new component.
  • Making minor updates to a tool.


Examples of innovative improvements typically include additions or major updates to the following:
  • Computer and related hardware products
  • Transformational support tools
  • New or redesigned workflows
  • Processes or lifecycle models
  • Interface standards
  • Reusable components
  • Management techniques and methodologies
  • Quality improvement techniques and methodologies
  • Development techniques and methodologies

Some suggested improvements may be received in the form of a proposal (e.g., an organizational improvement proposal arising from a causal analysis and resolution activity). These suggested improvements will have been analyzed and documented prior to input to Organizational Performance Management processes. When suggested improvements are received as proposals, the proposals are reviewed for completeness and are evaluated as part of the selection process for implementation.

Improvement searches can involve looking outside the organization, deriving innovations from projects using Causal Analysis and Resolution processes, using competitive business intelligence, or analyzing existing organizational performance.

Example Work Products

  1. Suggested incremental improvements
  2. Suggested innovative improvements


1. Elicit suggested improvements.

These suggestions document potential improvements to processes and technologies. Managers and staff in the organization as well as customers, end users, and suppliers can submit suggestions. The organization can also search the academic and technology communities for suggested improvements. Some suggested improvements may have been implemented at the project level before being proposed for the organization.


Examples of sources for improvements include the following:
  • Findings and recommendations from process appraisals
  • The organization’s quality and process performance objectives
  • Analysis of data about customer and end-user problems as well as customer and end-user satisfaction
  • Results of process and product benchmarking efforts
  • Measured effectiveness of process activities
  • Measured effectiveness of project work environments
  • Examples of improvements that were successfully adopted elsewhere
  • Feedback on previous improvements
  • Spontaneous ideas from managers and staff
  • Improvement proposals from Causal Analysis and Resolution processes resulting from implemented actions with proven effectiveness
  • Analysis of technical performance measures
  • Analysis of data on defect causes
  • Analysis of project and organizational performance compared to quality and productivity objectives

Refer to the Organizational Process Focus (OPF) (CMMI-DEV) process area for more information about deploying organizational process assets and incorporating experiences.

2. Identify suggested improvements as incremental or innovative.

3. Investigate innovative improvements that may improve the organization's processes and technologies.


Investigating innovative improvements typically involves the following:
  • Maintaining awareness of leading relevant technical work and technology trends
  • Searching for commercially available innovative improvements
  • Collecting proposals for innovative improvements from the projects and the organization
  • Reviewing processes and technologies used externally and comparing them to the processes and technologies used in the organization
  • Identifying areas where innovative improvements have been used successfully, and reviewing data and documentation of experience using these improvements
  • Identifying improvements that integrate new technology into products and project work environments