Software process improvement and related standards/models
"You cannot win in today's marketplace
using yesterday's processes."
-- Dr. H. James Harrington
In the 1990s, software process improvement was primarily
promoted under the auspices of achieving the requirements of various standards/models.
Tantara believes standards/models have a role in software process improvement
but need not be a prerequisite to business excellence.
Applying standards/models for software process improvement
When you read business success stories, they often
advise that you need to begin your business/software process improvement
journey by first applying a standard or model. However, when you speak
to these successful businesses, a commonality stands out -- they use standards
and models not as bibles but as planning tools and as checklists to
be considered when determining completeness of their planned efforts.
Using standards and models in this manner is like using a roadmap when
you take a journey.
Everyone will agree, a roadmap is a great initial planning tool and
a good guide to a new never yet travelled destination (goal). The
roadmap shows you many routes (choices) to your destination and possibly,
the type of terrain--divided highway, paved road, gravel road, mountains,
dessert, and so forth. The roadmap indicates what is possible and
often potential rewards (points of interest). It does not dictate
(the route to take), where to stop (gas stations, tourism centers,...),
nor advise on the required resources (the type of vehicle for the terrain),
costs (the recommended luxury of your vehicle), schedule (the speed of
travel) and expected return-on-investment (which point of interests are
worth your efforts/focus).
Some roadmaps can also help achieve different objectives:
For example, two travellers may have the same destination (e.g.,
the goal to attend a family reunion in city XYZ) with different objectives:
one traveller may desire the quickest route (hence, will use a roadmap
indicating interstate highways) while the other traveller may want to visit
friends on the way (hence, will use a roadmap indicating routes to
towns and cities)--note: some roadmaps will accomplish both set of objectives.
When applying standards and models, Tantara's advice is simple -- first
know your journey's goal and objectives, choose the appropriate roadmaps
(see table below), seek roadmap/implementation advice from someone with
a proven record (like Tantara), then finalize your plans/budget and proceed
to drive the best route to achieve the desired goal and objectives.
Standards and models to consider
for business/software process improvement, are:
This article was written by Tantara Inc., a business consulting
firm specialized in software best practices and the improvement
process effectiveness and software product/service potential.
Click here for history and relationships of
the various standards/models
If your need is...
For the software process,
if your need is...
For all types
To begin your software business or quality improvement journey,
it is best to first assure yourself and your clients that you are effectively
your core process (i.e., the software life cycle) and its supporting functions.
To do this, consider achieving the ISO
Also consider ISO 9000 if your objective is to ensure a consistent
understanding of management expectations and/or to improve cross-functional
||To interpret the ISO 9000 standards for a software environment,
consider using any of the following software quality management system
To define your software process, consider:
To define your software process for small-scale projects,
also consider the SPIRE Handbook.
To define your software process for large-scale contractual
projects, also consider all the other IEEE
Software Engineering Standards.
||To begin your software process improvement journey or
strengthen your software process capability (say after ISO 9000 registration),
Alternatively, if your organization develops an integrated
system composed of hardware and software, consider applying:
To be recognized as an organization of "world class products/services"
or as a leader of "best practices", consider implementing a Total Quality
Management (TQM) model such as
Also consider applying a TQM model to strengthen the company's
leadership and to improve the strategic alignment of the business
with "external" customer/market needs.
||Canada Award for Excellence (CAE)
||Europe's Business Excellence Award (BEA)
||United States' Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
Consider using ISO 9004 as a guideline for quality improvement
and quality management.
for pros and cons of applying one standard/model over another.
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( Revised: July 24, 2001