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Process Improvement and Small Organizations

Mike HarrisThe article in the March/April 2016 edition of IEEE Software, “Software Process Improvement in Very Small Organizations,” focuses on a topic that any reader with a small organization will find interesting: the fact that very small entities (VSEs) – which have 25 or fewer employees – occupy a large part of the software business. Not only do many VSEs offer software services directly to clients, VSEs often are an outsourced provider for larger organizations, serving as a crucial factor of success.

However, there is no software process framework in place for VSEs. Those commonly used in the industry, such as CMMI and SPICE, are difficult to apply in smaller organizations due to cost, time, or other factors.

As a result, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) collaborated to publish a set of ISO/IEC 29110 standards and guides (available for free at http://standards.iso.org/ittf/PubliclyAvailableStandards/index.html), a widely adopted standard. This document introduced the term VSE and includes process guidelines based on VSE characteristics.

If you read the IEEE article, you’ll find tables summarizing the most common improvement hurdles that VSEs face and the opportunities SPI offers them, based on decades of field experience in multiple countries.

In addition, the authors of the article are in the process of building an “experience factory,” helping VSEs to start process initiatives. VSEs can join the effort or benefit from the findings to-date (for free!).  

Why is this so interesting? Because in any organization – software or not – constant improvement is a necessity. In order to thrive and succeed, an organization must be looking for areas of improvement, best practices to follow, and an increase in quality. The easiest way to achieve that is via a framework that serves as a roadmap for change (like CMMI or the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)). Smaller software organizations have long been at a disadvantage because so many of the available frameworks were not created with them in mind.

This new set of standards and guides allows smaller organizations to reap the benefits of process improvement, while also contributing to the body of knowledge. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Read the article: “Software Process Improvement in Very Small Organizations,” IEEE Software.

Mike Harris

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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