Learn the steps to achieve CMMC compliance and how the right consulting partner can streamline the process for DoD contracting success with Cleared Systems

Introduction to CMMC Compliance

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a cybersecurity framework designed to enhance the security posture of the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) and their supply chain. Developed by the Department of Defense (DoD), the CMMC ensures that contractors and subcontractors handling sensitive information have the appropriate cybersecurity measures in place.

Why is CMMC Compliance Important?

CMMC compliance is essential for businesses working with the DoD or seeking to do so in the future. Here's why it matters:

  1. Protecting Sensitive Information: Ensuring the security of sensitive information, such as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and Federal Contract Information (FCI), is paramount to national security.
  2. Competitive Advantage: Achieving CMMC compliance demonstrates your organization's commitment to cybersecurity, giving you a competitive edge when bidding for DoD contracts.
  3. Regulatory Requirements: Non-compliant organizations risk losing their ability to participate in DoD contracts and may face legal penalties.

CMMC Levels: An Overview

The CMMC framework consists of five maturity levels, with each level incorporating the security practices of the previous levels. The levels are:

  1. CMMC Level 1 - Basic Cyber Hygiene: Requires implementation of 17 security practices to protect FCI.
  2. CMMC Level 2 - Intermediate Cyber Hygiene: Introduces additional 55 practices for a total of 72, emphasizing documentation and policy development.
  3. CMMC Level 3 - Good Cyber Hygiene: Adds 58 practices, for a total of 130, focuses on protecting CUI, and requires implementation of NIST SP 800-171 security requirements.
  4. CMMC Level 4 - Proactive: Includes 26 additional practices, totaling 156, and requires organizations to review and measure their practices for effectiveness.
  5. CMMC Level 5 - Advanced/Progressive: Requires 11 more practices, for a total of 167, and focuses on advanced cybersecurity measures to protect against nation-state threats.

Navigating the CMMC Compliance Journey

To achieve CMMC compliance, organizations should follow these steps:

  1. Identify CMMC Level Requirements: Determine the appropriate CMMC level based on the type of information your organization handles and the contracts you seek.
  2. Conduct a Gap Analysis: Evaluate your current cybersecurity posture against the requirements of your target CMMC level to identify areas of improvement.
  3. Develop a System Security Plan (SSP) and Plan of Action & Milestones (POA&M): Outline the steps needed to address identified gaps and establish a timeline for implementation.
  4. Implement Required Security Practices: Update your policies, procedures, and technologies to meet the CMMC requirements.
  5. Engage a CMMC Compliance Consulting Partner: Seek the expertise of a qualified consulting partner to assist with the process and ensure a smooth transition. 6. Prepare for CMMC Assessment: Work with your consulting partner to verify that your organization is ready for the CMMC assessment by a Certified Third-Party Assessment Organization (C3PAO).
    1. Undergo CMMC Assessment and Certification: Complete the assessment process and obtain your CMMC certification, which is valid for three years.

    Selecting the Right CMMC Compliance Consulting Partner

    Choosing the right CMMC compliance consulting partner is crucial for a successful compliance journey. Consider these factors when making your decision:

    1. Experience and Expertise: Look for a partner with a proven track record in CMMC compliance and expertise in cybersecurity best practices.
    2. Certified Professionals: Ensure the consulting team includes Certified CMMC Professionals (CCP) and Certified CMMC Assessors (CCA) to guide you through the process.
    3. Industry Knowledge: Select a partner with experience in your specific industry, as they will understand the unique challenges and requirements you face.
    4. Customized Approach: A tailored approach to compliance ensures that your organization's unique needs are addressed, resulting in a more efficient and effective process.
    5. Ongoing Support: Choose a partner who offers ongoing support and services, such as managed security services, to maintain compliance and address emerging threats.

    Best Practices for a Smooth CMMC Compliance Process

    Follow these best practices to ensure a smooth CMMC compliance process:

    1. Establish a Cross-Functional Team: Involve representatives from various departments, such as IT, legal, and HR, to address the diverse aspects of compliance.
    2. Invest in Employee Training: Educate employees on cybersecurity best practices and their role in maintaining compliance.
    3. Implement a Risk-Based Approach: Prioritize the most critical gaps identified during the gap analysis to allocate resources efficiently.
    4. Regularly Monitor and Review Policies: Continuously evaluate your cybersecurity policies and practices to ensure ongoing compliance and adapt to changing threats.
    5. Leverage Automation and Technology: Use tools and technologies to streamline the compliance process and enhance your overall cybersecurity posture.

    Frequently Asked Questions About CMMC Compliance

    Q: How long does the CMMC compliance process take?

    A: The duration of the compliance process varies depending on the complexity of your organization and the target CMMC level. It may take several months to over a year for larger organizations.

    Q: What are the costs associated with CMMC compliance?

    A: Costs vary based on the organization's size, target CMMC level, and the resources required to meet compliance requirements. Expenses may include consulting fees, technology investments, and employee training.

    Q: Are small businesses exempt from CMMC compliance?

    A: No, small businesses that handle CUI or FCI are required to comply with the appropriate CMMC level, just like larger organizations.


    Achieving CMMC compliance is critical for organizations working with the DoD and its supply chain. By partnering with a qualified CMMC compliance consulting partner, following best practices, and investing in the necessary resources, your organization can successfully navigate the compliance journey and secure its position in the competitive DoD contracting landscape.

Ways We Can Help You

Contact us to receive assistance in navigating cybersecurity risks and information compliance for your company. Here are some additional ways we can help:

  • Schedule a free discovery session with us during which we can learn about your company, answer your questions, and assist you in determining if Cleared Systems is the right fit for you.

  • Register for our upcoming cybersecurity and information compliance training.

  • Purchase our books on CMMC 2.0, CUI, Data Breaches, and ITAR.

  • Join our weekly free webinar sessions to ask questions and learn about the latest developments in cybersecurity and information compliance.

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Author Profile

Carl B. Johnson, President of Cleared Systems, is a highly experienced and a ITAR, CMMC 2.0, Microsoft GCC High, and Microsoft DLP/AIP consultant. With over twenty years of experience in information assurance, cybersecurity, policy development, risk management, and regulatory compliance, he brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to his clients.

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