The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) has become a popular methodology for improving software development processes with the goal of developing high-quality software within budget and planned cycle time. Prior research literature, while not exclusively focusing on CMM level 5 projects, has identified a host of factors as determinants of software development effort, quality, and cycle time. In this study, we focus exclusively on CMM level 5 projects from multiple organizations to study the impacts of highly mature processes on effort, quality, and cycle time. Using a linear regression model based on data collected from 37 CMM level 5 projects of four organizations, we find that high levels of process maturity, as indicated by CMM level 5 rating, reduce the effects of most factors that were previously believed to impact software development effort, quality, and cycle time. The only factor found to be significant in determining effort, cycle time, and quality was software size. On the average, the developed models predicted effort and cycle time around 12 percent and defects to about 49 percent of the actuals, across organizations. Overall, the results in this paper indicate that some of the biggest rewards from high levels of process maturity come from the reduction in variance of software development outcomes that were caused by factors other than software size
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