Expanding software process improvement models beyond the software process itself

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The problems besetting software development and maintenance are well recorded and numerous strategies have been adopted over the years to overcome the so-called "software crisis". One increasingly popular strategy focuses on managing the processes by which software is built, maintained and managed. As such, many software organisations see software process improvement initiatives as an important strategy to help them improve their software development and maintenance performance. Two of the more popular software process improvement (SPI) models used by the software industry to help them in this endeavour are the Capability Maturity Model for Software (SW-CMM) from the Software Engineering Institute and the Software Process Improvement and Capability determination (SPICE) model from the International Standards Organisation. This research begins with the supposition that, although these SPI models have added significant value to many organisations, they have a potential shortcoming in that they tend to focus almost exclusively on the software process itself and seem to neglect other organisational aspects that could contribute to improved software development and maintenance performance. This research is concerned with exploring this potential shortcoming and identifying complementary improvement areas that the SW -CMM and SPICE models fail to address adequately. A theoretical framework for extending the SW-CMM and SPICE models is proposed. Thereafter complementary improvement areas are identified and integrated with the SW-CMM and SPICE models to develop an Extended SPI Model. This Extended SPI Model adopts a systemic view of software process and IS organisational improvement by addressing a wide range of complementary improvement considerations. A case study of an SPI project is described, with the specific objective of testing and refining the Extended SPI Model. The results seem to indicate that the framework and Extended SPI Model are largely valid, although a few changes were made in light of the findings of the case study. Finally, the implications of the research for both theory and practice are discussed.

Bibliography: pages 182-188.