Evidence-Based Software Engineering

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Secondary Studies


Software process improvement in small and medium software enterprises: a systematic review

Author(s)Pino, Francisco J. and Garcia, Felix and Piattini, Mario
AbstractSmall and medium enterprises are a very important cog in the gears of the world economy. The software industry in most countries is composed of an industrial scheme that is made up mainly of small and medium software enterprises--SMEs. To strengthen these types of organizations, efficient Software Engineering practices are needed--practices which have been adapted to their size and type of business. Over the last two decades, the Software Engineering community has expressed special interest in software process improvement (SPI) in an effort to increase software product quality, as well as the productivity of software development. However, there is a widespread tendency to make a point of stressing that the success of SPI is only possible for large companies. In this article, a systematic review of published case studies on the SPI efforts carried out in SMEs is presented. Its objective is to analyse the existing approaches towards SPI which focus on SMEs and which report a case study carried out in industry. A further objective is that of discussing the significant issues related to this area of knowledge, and to provide an up-to-date state of the art, from which innovative research activities can be thought of and planned.
DetailsPino et al. reviewed 45 papers reporting case studies of SPI in SMEs. They found that SEI and ISO methods are difficult for small companies, but even if successful, do not lead to certification. Formal programs such as CMM are very difficult for SMEs. The most commonly used models are CMM as a process reference guide, ISO 15505 as a process assessment model and IDEAL as the model for guiding improvement. However, they found no example of all three models being applied in the same company. Most improvement proposals were based on using existing models, fitting them to SME needs, and on the evaluation of the improvements provided by SPI. However, improvements were measured through informal subjective means. Furthermore the focus of most improvements was on technical infrastructure (e.g. management, documentation) not the software development process per se.