The Soft System Methodology as a Framework for Software Process Improvement

The Soft System Methodology as a Framework for Software Process Improvement

Peter D.C. Bennetts (Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, UK), A. Trevor Wood-Harper (University of Salford, UK) and Stella Mills (Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, UK)
Copyright: © 1998 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/joeuc.1998010102
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Abstract

The overall aim of this paper is to argue that only a systems-based approach to information systems development (ISD) and software process improvement (SPI) are likely to cover all the recognised issues. This paper will examine reports in the literature concerning problems associated with ISD and implementation. The characteristics of these problems are identified. It is noted that these problems have been known for many years. The responses to the problems fall into two broad areas which are characterised as paradigms. On the one hand, there is a belief that systems development should be considered to be a form of applied science or engineering (Dijkstra, 1976; Floyd, 1992; Hoare, 1982). This is also the approach behind Software Process Improvement. However, there are weaknesses with this approach which are identified below. These weaknesses are addressed by approaches from within the second paradigm or systems paradigm (Checkland, 1981; Checkland and Scholes, 1990). The systems paradigm has been developed from the traditional paradigm. Consequently, it is argued that fewer problems will be found if methodologies based on the systems paradigm are used. The foundations and nature of this approach are described. Further, it is shown that the Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), which is based on this paradigm, can be used as a metaphor or model of ISD. In this form it is recursive and so this model is characterised as Recursive SSM. SSM is offered as a useful framework for both ISD and software process improvement (SPI).

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