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ISO vs. CMMI: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 14, 2024
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) sets global standards for various industries, while CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) is a framework for improving process efficiency in organizations, particularly in software development.

Key Differences

ISO provides a wide range of standards covering various aspects of technology, manufacturing, and service sectors. CMMI focuses specifically on software development, service delivery, and organizational processes, aiming to enhance process efficiency and quality.
ISO, an international body, develops and publishes standards for a broad spectrum of activities and industries. CMMI, developed by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, is more focused on software engineering and related business processes.
ISO certification implies that an organization complies with a specific ISO standard. CMMI appraisal involves an assessment of the organization's processes against the CMMI model's maturity levels.
ISO standards are implemented widely across different industries worldwide. CMMI is mainly used by software development companies and IT service providers to assess and improve their processes.
ISO standards are globally recognized and accepted across various industries and countries. CMMI, while internationally recognized, is particularly prevalent in the IT and software development sectors.

Comparison Chart


Broad range of industries
Software development and IT services


International standardization body
Developed by Software Engineering Institute


Compliance with specific standards
Maturity level assessment


Widely across different sectors
Mainly in IT and software sectors

Global Acceptance

Highly recognized globally
Recognized, especially in IT

ISO and CMMI Definitions


ISO certification helps organizations demonstrate their commitment to industry best practices.
Achieving ISO certification boosted our market credibility.


CMMI provides a framework for organizations to improve their ability to develop, maintain, and deliver quality products and services.
Our company's CMMI level 3 rating demonstrates our commitment to process improvement.


ISO sets international standards for products, services, and systems to ensure quality and efficiency.
Our company is pursuing ISO 9001 certification for quality management.


CMMI is a process and behavioral model that helps organizations streamline their operations and improve performance.
Implementing CMMI helped our software development process become more efficient.


ISO develops standards that provide specifications for products, services, and practices.
The ISO standards for environmental management help companies reduce their ecological footprint.


CMMI is widely used in software engineering to assess an organization's maturity and process quality.
Achieving a higher CMMI maturity level was a key goal for our IT department this year.


ISO covers a wide range of industries, from technology and manufacturing to food safety.
ISO 22000 ensures food safety in our manufacturing process.


CMMI appraisals help organizations identify process inefficiencies and areas for improvement.
The recent CMMI appraisal highlighted areas where we can enhance our project management practices.


ISO standards are voluntary but widely adopted for consistency and quality assurance.
Adhering to ISO standards helps us maintain high-quality production.


CMMI focuses on process maturity, encouraging continuous improvement in organizational practices.
Our focus on CMMI has significantly improved our project delivery timelines.


An organization, the International Organization for Standardization, that sets standards in many businesses and technologies, including computing and communications.


(colloquial) isolation


Quarantine measures in order to mitigate the spread of communicable diseases, such as Covid-19.


An isolation play in basketball or American football.


(category theory) isomorphism


What is the purpose of CMMI?

CMMI aims to improve and streamline organizational processes, particularly in software development and IT services.

What does ISO stand for?

ISO stands for the International Organization for Standardization.

Can any industry use ISO standards?

Yes, ISO standards are applicable to a wide range of industries.

How do organizations get ISO certified?

Organizations undergo an external audit by an accredited certification body to get ISO certified.

Are ISO standards mandatory?

ISO standards are voluntary but often seen as essential for business credibility and operations.

What are some common ISO standards?

Common ISO standards include ISO 9001 for quality management and ISO 14001 for environmental management.

How often should ISO certification be renewed?

ISO certification typically needs renewal every three years, with regular audits.

Does ISO certification improve business performance?

ISO certification can enhance business processes, leading to improved performance and customer satisfaction.

What does a CMMI appraisal involve?

A CMMI appraisal assesses an organization's process maturity against the CMMI model.

How does CMMI improve software development?

CMMI enhances software development by standardizing processes and promoting quality and efficiency.

Is CMMI certification or an appraisal?

CMMI involves an appraisal rather than a certification.

Is CMMI only for software companies?

While CMMI is heavily used in software and IT, its principles can be applied to other areas.

Can CMMI be used for services other than IT?

Yes, CMMI can be applied to service delivery processes outside of IT.

What are the benefits of ISO certification?

Benefits include improved product quality, increased efficiency, and enhanced market credibility.

Can CMMI be integrated with other process improvement models?

Yes, CMMI can be integrated with other models like Six Sigma and Agile methodologies.

What are the maturity levels in CMMI?

CMMI has five maturity levels, from Initial (level 1) to Optimizing (level 5).

How does ISO impact international trade?

ISO standards facilitate international trade by standardizing specifications and practices across countries.

How long does it take to become CMMI appraised?

The time to become CMMI appraised varies based on organizational size and readiness but typically takes several months.

Who can conduct ISO certification audits?

Accredited certification bodies are authorized to conduct ISO certification audits.

Are there different versions of CMMI?

Yes, CMMI is periodically updated; the current version is CMMI V2.0.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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