Business Development Capability Maturity Model 2.0

Organizations use the Business Development Capability Maturity Model to enhance their business development capabilities and increase their chances of winning business.


The Capability Maturity Model® for Business Development (BD-CMM) is the industry standard for business development capability and maturity. BD-CMM is a tool to help organizations measure the maturity of their customer interactions, business development leadership approach, people and organizational capabilities, process management, and support systems.

BD-CMM implementation gives business development organizations a proven framework for enhancing business-winning results. It documents patterns of best practices found in high-performing organizations and shares how those practices can be used by other organizations. It provides a clear structure of specific goals and practices that can be used to help an organization assess its strengths and plan improvements.

Business development improvement programs that are well-defined, based on the BD-CMM, and managed well can show dramatic results in 12–18 months. Such programs can continue to help organizations optimize their performance and results over time.

The model covers the full business development lifecycle and can be used by employees with many different roles, including marketing, customer relationship management, sales, proposal development, and business development. The research that the model is based on suggests that organizations that apply these practices at higher maturity levels consistently outperform organizations that do not.

The model’s primary goal is to give business development organizations a clear, predictable way to assess their practices and identify ways to improve their performance—and results.

However, the model does not list specific processes. The entire model does not have to be implemented to achieve results, either. Users can apply the model for a broad range of improvement goals.

The BD-CMM, illustrated in Figure 1, translates business development best practices into a framework that supports maturity growth through well-defined, proven growth paths.

Capability Maturity Model, CMM, and CMMI are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by Carnegie Mellon University.

Figure 1. The BD-CMM.

Figure 1. The BD-CMM. This model provides a structured framework of industry best practices that can help identify gaps and guide improvements within business development organizations.

Best Practices

1. Determine the organization’s business development maturity against BD-CMM specific goals and specific practices across all capability categories.

The best starting point for applying BD-CMM is to use its structure of specific goals and specific practices as a best-practice checklist. These goals and practices are detailed in the model. A set of matrices is also provided to help with self-assessment, which can help you determine how well your organization uses industry best practices. You can find these matrices in the attachment to the BD-CMM 2.0. The model also provides a roadmap to guide use and implementation.

One common approach used by organizations is to have an external or internal Certified Appraiser perform a Class B Appraisal. The appraisal will give you a formal baseline to use to plan and implement improvements to customer approaches, management strategies, organizational competencies, process management activities, and organizational infrastructure.

Your company can benefit from the model without a formal assessment, too. Many organizations have successfully implemented the model with less formal approaches.

2. Select a strategy for either staged or continuous improvement.

Like other CMMs and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)®, the BD-CMM contains both maturity levels and capability categories. Each maturity level (Figure 2) includes a group of process areas with the goals and practices that are typical of organizational behaviors and capabilities at that level.

One approach for implementing the model is to implement the goals and practices across the entire level—this is called a “staged” implementation. By comparison, some organizations implement improvements using a “continuous” implementation, which targets improvements in one or more of the model’s capability categories (Figure 3).

Figure 2. BD-CMM Maturity Levels.

Figure 2. BD-CMM Maturity Levels. The BD-CMM has five maturity levels, each with multiple process areas across five capability categories


Figure 3. BD-CMM Capability Categories.

Figure 3. BD-CMM Capability Categories. BD-CMM growth paths are based on its five capability categories—Customer, Leadership, People, Process Management, and Support.

The most common strategy among organizations that use BD-CMM is the staged approach. This approach seeks to coordinate improvements to achieve broad capability with broader benefits. For example, progression from Level 1 (Initial) to Level 2 (Managed) typically focuses on building proposal capability, while progression to Level 3 (Defined) builds opportunity capability, and so on.

Meanwhile, organizations that adopt a continuous implementation strategy typically make specific improvements, such as evolving from simple reuse libraries and toolsets to a formal knowledge management system to support their business development operations.

The BD-CMM supports either strategy, based on the objectives of the organization.

3. Set capability and/or maturity targets to be pursued.

Most organizations focus on Level 3, the Defined maturity level, as a “minimum goal state.” This BD-CMM level embodies a broad range of capabilities and has high ROI. However, reaching this level requires investment across the model’s capability categories and typically requires 12–24 months to achieve.

It’s best to set improvement targets based on careful consideration of the resources and management commitment needed to achieve organizational change.

4. Prepare detailed implementation plans for each targeted area with defined schedules and accountabilities.

When your organization has determine its maturity baseline and set either a maturity goal (staged implementation) or one or more capability goals (continuous implementation), then you should organize your efforts into distinct projects. Most organizations can only handle two to three improvement projects at the same time.

Most organizations also balance their activities between things that can be achieved quickly and projects that require more time and effort, as early successes tend to motivate and promote positive change.

It’s also best to align improvement projects within the model’s individual capability categories. The capability categories on the model’s capability goals and practices matrices provide natural growth paths between the BD-CMM maturity levels.

Aligning projects to capability categories makes it easier to build improvement teams, allocate resources, and measure outcomes.

5. Implement plans and monitor progress on a regular basis.

Improvements should be planned and managed according to standard project management disciplines and techniques, including attention to cost, schedule, and accountability. In most cases, it’s best to have a single person responsible for the overall improvement effort. This person should monitor progress, manage resources, and report on results. Individual improvement projects then should be managed by other people, with the total group making up an integrated process improvement team.

Having a designated executive sponsor—and involving the organization’s quality team or creating a business development process group—can make it easier to maintain access to resources. It also ensures a direct reporting chain and clear accountability for those leading the improvement effort.

6. Upon completion, have business development maturity validated through a formal appraisal performed by an external Certified Appraiser.

A big benefit of the BD-CMM is that improvements typically result in near-term, measurable results. The most common outcomes include improvements in win rate and productivity.

However, the bigger question of how much more mature and capable the organization’s business development operation is may be harder to answer. In addition, it can be difficult for an organization’s improvement team to be sure that they haven’t missed improvement opportunities.

For this reason, organizations often find it useful to hire a BD-CMM appraiser to review or validate the outcomes of their internal efforts. These outside appraisers are certified by the APMP Center for Business Development Excellence as qualified to perform BD-CMM appraisals. The external appraisal process provides an objective way to validate that improvements have been accomplished and that remaining issues are properly addressed.

7. Periodically reassess maturity and capability needs as part of ongoing continuous improvement efforts.

The APMP Center for Business Development Excellence recommends a 2-year cycle of reassessment for formal BD-CMM appraisals and organizational accreditations. More continuous attention to improvement opportunities should be part of a robust, ongoing lessons learned and internal auditing process.

Application in Diverse Environments

Use by small and large organizations

BD-CMM has been applied successfully in small, medium, and large organizations around the world. Its goals and practices apply equally to organizations who work with public- or private-sector customers in a wide range of industries and markets. Of course, these organizations have applied the model in various ways:

  • The continuous approach has proven especially suitable for organizations with limited resources, such as small businesses
  • Organizations especially concerned about building overall business development capability have typically used the staged approach to implementation
  • Large corporations can use BD-CMM appraisals as a good way to monitor the relative performance of diverse business operations

Common Pitfalls and Misconceptions

Misunderstanding of BD-CMM’s ROI

The most common misconception about using BD-CMM to improve or enhance business development operations is that it is expensive. This is usually based on reports that organizations spend a lot of money to achieve specified levels of CMMI® as prerequisites to bidding on U.S. federal contracts.

In fact, BD-CMM implementation is dramatically less expensive than CMMI® implementation. Also, the ROI for most organizations is less than 1 year and often greatly offset by improved competitive performance.


Incremental versus full-scale implementations

A second misconception is that an organization must commit to a large-scale process improvement to gain from the model. In fact, many organizations have adopted incremental improvements over time, based on both formal appraisals and informal self-assessments. In addition, the strategy for continuous implementation assumes that an organization can use the model as a blueprint for improvement over time.

The greatest issue associated with BD-CMM implementation is that its full potential can only be realized as part of a cultural shift in the organization. The single greatest failure point is lack of executive buy-in. Management commitment and leadership has proven to be a critical success factor.


  • The BD-CMM is the industry-standard framework for BD capability and maturity
  • Organizations can increase their maturity levels through either a staged (implementing goals across an entire level) or continuous (implementing goals only in selected categories) approach
  • An external appraisal by a Certified Appraiser is recommended for assessments of an organization’s progress
  • The BD-CMM can be implemented by organizations of all sizes for a broad range of improvement goals

Terms to Know

See Also