Software Process Improvement for Small and Medium Enterprises: Techniques and Case Studies

Software Process Improvement for Small and Medium Enterprises: Techniques and Case Studies

Hanna Oktaba (Nacional Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico) and Mario Piattini (Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)
Indexed In: SCOPUS
Release Date: April, 2008|Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 394|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-906-9
ISBN13: 9781599049069|ISBN10: 1599049066|EISBN13: 9781599049083|ISBN13 Softcover: 9781616926496
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Software engineering is of major importance to all enterprises; however, the key areas of software quality and software process improvement standards and models are currently geared toward large organizations, where most software organizations are small and medium enterprises.

Software Process Improvement for Small and Medium Enterprises: Techniques and Case Studies offers practical and useful guidelines, models, and techniques for improving software processes and products for small and medium enterprises, utilizing the authoritative, demonstrative tools of case studies and lessons learned to provide academics, scholars, and practitioners with an invaluable research source.

Topics Covered

The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Agile processes in project management
  • CMM fast-track
  • Framework of small software organizations
  • Governmental organizations
  • Implications of software quality assurance
  • International software engineering standards
  • Knowledge Assets
  • MoProSoft®
  • Organizational Analysis
  • Practical experience in customization
  • Process-oriented development
  • Resource Management
  • RUP process
  • Small and medium enterprises (SME)
  • Software development methodologies
  • Software Development Process
  • Software development process evaluation methods
  • Software implementation
  • Software improvement process standards
  • Software project and business strategy alignment
  • Software testing in small and medium settings
  • SPI

Reviews and Testimonials

"Software Process Improvement for Small and Medium Enterprises: Techniques and Case Studies main objective is to provide practical and useful guidelines, models and techniques for improving software processes in SMEs, collecting real case studies and lessons learned, as successful examples of experiences in improving software process capability."

– Hanna Oktaba, University of Mexico, Mexico

This guide has been written for the IT personnel of these enterprises in a way that adapts the basic concepts of software packages to a more modest platform.

– Book News Inc. (June 2008)

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

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From the very beginning of the 1990s onward, the software engineering community (industry and researchers) has expressed special interest in software process improvement (SPI). This is evidenced by the growing number of books, articles, and conferences that deal with the topic of SPI and the great number of international initiatives related to SPI such as CMM®, CMMI®, ISO/IEC 12207, 15504, and ISO 90003, among others.

Nevertheless, these standards and models are conceived for big organizations like USA DoD, NASA, multinational software factories, and so forth. In fact, there is a widespread tendency to emphasize that the success of SPI is only possible for large companies that have enough resources to tackle these types of practices. This perception is based on the fact that SPI programs are just not viable for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) because of their organizational structure and the high costs that are involved. However, the software industry in most countries is made up mainly of SMEs which favor the growth of national economies. Most software development organizations (nearly 90%) are SMEs which contribute to very valuable and widespread products.

Almost all the experts agree that the special characteristics of SMEs mean that process improvement programs must be applied in a way that is particular to them and visibly different from how this is done in the large organizations. This is not as simple as just regarding these programs as scaled down versions of those applied in big companies. In fact, the assessments conformant to the international standards are expensive and time consuming, difficult to perform in small companies, their process model structure is too complex, and the return of investment undertaken has to be seen from a long-term perspective.

The first International Research Workshop for Process Improvement in Small Settings organized by the Software Engineering Institute (October 2005), the new ISO/IEC JTC1 SC7 Working Group 24, which was created (2006) to develop the “Software Life Cycle Profiles and Guidelines for use in Very Small Enterprises (VSE),” and several other initiatives have demonstrated the increasing interest for new proposals and experiences in software improvement for SMEs. SMEs have become concerned about how to improve the capability of their software processes, as a fundamental element to increase product quality, addressing two main concerns: the first one has to do with their image, which is a key factor in order to be able to export software and hence enter the global marketplace; and the other concern is related to the efficiency and effectiveness of software process management.

Also, different countries like Mexico, Spain, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, and so on have developed local programs to promote the improvement of their software industry, especially focused on SMEs. As a result, several maturity and improvement models have been developed and successful experiences have been carried out. Therefore, in this context, we present this book, the main objective of which is to provide practical and useful guidelines, models, and techniques for improving software processes in SMEs and collecting real case studies and lessons learned, as successful examples of experiences in improving software process capability.

The book consists of 18 chapters. The chapters seek to provide a critical survey of the fundamental themes, problems, arguments, theories, and methodologies in the field of software process improvement in SMEs. Each chapter has been planned as a self-standing introduction to its subject.

Therefore, in Chapter I, “Organizational Analysis of Small Software Organizations: Framework and Case Study,” Jesús Zavala Ruiz realizes an overview on the complexity of a software organization focusing on software engineering and project management as disciplines in crisis and their underlying management paradigm. He considers opening it to those related disciplines and presents a framework to support this change of paradigm.

Claude Y. Laporte, Alain Renault, and Simon Alexandre, in Chapter II, “The Application of International Software Engineering Standards in Very Small Enterprises,” present the new ISO project proposed to facilitate access to, and utilization of, its standards in SMEs by means of developing profiles and providing guidance for compliance with ISO software engineering standards.

In Chapter III, “Practical Experience in Customization for a Software Development Process for Small Companies Based on RUP Process and MSF,” Valerio Fernandes del Maschi, Mauro de Mesquita Spinola, Ivanir Costa Alexandre de Lima Esteves, Luciano S. Souza, Wilson Vendramel, and Jorge Pirola, show the methodology, strategy, main phases, and procedures to the implantation of a customized software engineering process in a SME.

Chapter IV, “The Impact of Software Testing in Small and Medium Settings,” by Luis Vinicio León-Carrillo, shows some foundations of the discipline of software testing and fragments of some successful test process defined using a proprietary process definition language. He presents two case studies realized in Mexican SMEs that show the economic impact of the testing process.

Sarah Kohan, Marcelo Schneck de Paula Pessôa, and Mauro de Mesquita Spinola present “QuickLocus: A Software Development Process Evaluation Method for Small-Sized Organizations” (Chapter V). This is a low-cost process evaluation method especially designed for SMEs that has been successfully apply in several organizations which provide ways to be more competitive.

In Chapter VI, Deepti Mishra and Alok Mishra present “A Study of Software Process Improvement in Small and Medium Organizations,” in which some process assessment and software process improvement methods for SMEs are compared. This will lead towards development of a standardized software process improvement model for small and medium sized software development organizations in the future.

“CMM Fast-Track: Experience and Lessons Learned,” Chapter VII, by Hareton Leung and Yvette Lui, presents the CMM Fast-track Toolkit (CMMFT). This program aims to provide a faster and cheaper method of obtaining CMMI capability for SMEs, increasing the quality of their software products and gaining competitive advantage.

Chapter VIII, written by Hanna Oktaba and Ana Vázquez, presents “MoProSoft: A Software Process Model for Small Enterprises.” This chapter resumes the process model and its assessment method (EvalProSoft) and shows their most important features. It also includes the results of their application in four small Mexican enterprises.

Julio A. Hurtado, Francisco J. Pino, Juan C. Vidal, César Pardo, and Luis Eduardo Fernández present “Agile SPI: Software Process Agile Improvement: A Colombian Approach to Software Process Improvement in Small Software Organizations” in Chapter IX. This framework (Agile SPI), designed to motivate SMEs towards improving and certifying their software development processes, is based on the integration of software processes in small and medium organization contexts and cultures. Knowledge regarding the organization and its main features let processes generate profits and increase the intellectual capital of the organization.

In Chapter X, John Gómez and Alejandro Núñez present “Agile Practices in Project Management.” In this chapter, both authors present common agile practices as the way to address the daily problems that may appear in a process improvement initiative. They explain how these practices can reduce the efforts and cost, and contribute to realize benefits sooner, in a motivational way.

A framework for improving software process in Latin-American SMEs is being developed by the COMPETISOFT project. This framework is composed by a reference process model, an assessment model, and an improvement model, and it is based on other previously solutions, especially in the MoProSoft project. COMPETISOFT is shown in Chapter XI, “COMPETISOFT: An Improvement Strategy for Small Latin-American Software Organizations,” written by Hanna Oktaba, Mario Piattini, Félix García, Francisco J. Pino, Claudia Alquicira, Francisco Ruiz, and Tomás Martínez.

Chapter XII, “SPI Long-Term Benefits: Case Studies of Five Small Firms,” written by Aileen Cater-Steel and Terry Rout, presents a study of assessment-based improvement in more than 20 SMEs during five years. The results show how improving frameworks can affect the organization and its business.

Oswaldo Terán, Johanna Alvarez, Blanca Abraham, and Jose Aguilar show in Chapter XIII, titled “An Incremental Functionality-Oriented Free Software Development Methodology,” the validated methodology used in a factory oriented at free software development. This incremental methodology is based on a prioritization of functionalities development according to needs and has features of both cathedral and bazaar developing styles.

“How to Align Software Projects with Business Strategy” (Chapter XIV) by Gustavo Ricardo Parés Arce, proposes a methodological framework to promote strategic alignment, improve execution through better communication, and understand IT projects. It will help to make better IT decisions for offering a competitive edge to companies based on a better management of the strategic IT portfolio.

Chapter XV, “A Model to Classify Knowledge Assets of a Process-Oriented Development,” written by Raquel Anaya, Alejandra Cechich, and Mónica Henao, identifies a model to characterize knowledgeable assets and their relationships in a software organization, and it sets the basis for defining a transversal process of knowledge management at the organization.

Alicia Mon, Marcelo Estayno, and Patricia Scalzone describe a framework implementation experience in an accounting office in Chapter XVI, titled “Practical Application of a Software Development Framework in an Accountant Office” They show how their process definition allows progressively putting a work model into practice for implementing a process model with continuous improvement.

Chapter XVII, “Estimate of Effort in Software Implementation Projects” by María Julia Orozco Mendoza, Evaristo Fernández Perea, and Claudia Alquicira Esquivel, contains a proposal for project estimation of software used in a Mexican SME. This is based on Karner’s use case point estimation method. Two methods are compared to provide conclusions.

In “Improving Resource Management: Lessons from a Case Study in a Middle-Range Governmental Organization,” Chapter XVIII, Juan M. Luzuriaga, Rodolfo Martínez, and Alejandra Cechich present how resources have been managed according to recommendations of the MoProSoft reference model in a governmental organization. They present some lessons learned from this case study.

In summary, these chapters constitute evidence of the importance of software process improvement in SMEs. These are intended to be useful to a wide audience, including CEOs, CIOs, software engineers, software process engineers, quality specialists, consultants, and software students.

We hope that the practical vision and experience presented in this book will provide the reader with useful guidelines, models, and techniques for improving software processes in SMEs. In this sense, we wish to contribute to increase the quality of the processes and products of SMEs.

Author(s)/Editor(s) Biography

Dr. Hanna Oktaba has a PhD in computer science from the University of Warsaw, Poland, 1982. She has been professor of computer science at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) since 1983. She was part of the group that founded the Mexican Society of Quality for Software Engineering (AMCIS), where she has played major roles ever since. She has been in charge of the MoProSoft and EvalProSoft projects for the Mexican government program PROSOFT since 2002. MoProSoft is a software process model for micro and small software development organizations, and EvalProSoft is a process assessment method based on ISO/IEC 15504-2; both documents were accepted as Mexican national standards in August 2005. She was distinguished by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) as a member of the International Process Research Group (IPRC) whose purpose is to define the process research roadmap for the next 10 years. She has been the technical director of the COMPETISOFT project, funded by CYTED, since January 2006. The general purpose of this project is to enhance competitiveness through process improvement in small and medium Ibero-American software companies; the project comprises 23 groups from 13 countries.
Mario Piattini has an MSc and a PhD in computer science (Politechnical University of Madrid) and a MSc in Psychology (UNED). He is also a certified information system auditor and a certified information system manager by ISACA (Information System Audit and Control Association) as well as a full professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Castilla-La Mancha (Ciudad Real, Spain). Furthermore, he is the author of several books and papers on databases, software engineering, and information systems. He is a co-editor of several international books including Advanced Databases Technology and Design (2000, Artech House, UK), Information and database quality (2002, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell, USA), Component-based software quality: methods and techniques (2004, Springer, Germany), and Conceptual Software Metrics (Imperial College Press, UK, 2005). He leads the ALARCOS research group of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Castilla-La Mancha (Ciudad Real, Spain). His research interests include advanced databases, database quality, software metrics, security and audit, and software maintenance.