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>/Software Process Improvement (SPI) - The Easy Way

There has been a tremendous growth in the Software Industry in Europe during recent years. However the current slow down in our economy has brought challenges and many small software companies may be experiencing difficulties with a need to 'pull in the reins' to ride out the storms.

During these difficult times software developers have to be more effective and efficient and have to find better ways of ensuring their products are delivered on time and on budget. This can be a costly business particularly for the smaller software development companies (SSD's).

In its simplest terms everyone wants to be better, faster and cheaper. This is the market driven reason why software companies are progressively trying to improve their software development process and it's supporting structures. Without this they run the risk of being overtaken by the other players in the World game. This is where we can help by offering SSD's the opportunity to participate in a 6-Month SPI Programme.


SSDs - defined as companies employing up to 50 software staff, including both small software companies and small software units in user organisations.


The Thinking Behind The Programme

Recognising that smaller companies need support and guidance when they try a new approach for the first time, the programme has been designed to help companies through their first improvement project. This is done in conjunction with a Mentor, so there is no need to feel isolated or uncertain at any point.
To gain the maximum benefits from the company's improvement project an assessment is carried out, using the SPICE model, to ensure that the project, selected and undertaken within the programme, will meet the business needs of the organisation. This ensures that there is a very clear focus to the project and that it is small enough to be handled in the 6-month period of the programme, but also provides tangible benefits to the business at the end.
There are different approaches that can be taken by companies, but sometimes there is a real need to look at a short, focused programme, like this one, which will provide the benefits without a huge cost. The programme will also leave you with the skills to handle your next SPI project in-house thus reducing the longer term financial commitment to improvement.


SPICE (Software Process Improvement Capability dEtermination) is in the advance stages of becoming a new ISO Standard (15504). It provides a framework through which organisations can carry out a software process assessment, which helps an organisation to focus the improvement in the most beneficial area for their business.

The Step-By-Step Approach

This programme uses the 'SPIRE approach' to Software Process Improvement (SPI) which has already been very successfully tried and tested internationally. The approach has a basic philosophy that continuous improvement is most effective when there are frequent small projects, focused on one or a few software processes, each project taking weeks or a few months, rather than years.
The key steps are to:

  • Analyse business needs,
  • Assess the current process,
  • Prioritise improvement opportunities,
  • Plan and carry out improvement projects,
  • Review results, and start a new improvement cycle.

The Benefits

The programme will provide real business benefits in a short time-scale to the companies that participate. Depending on the project selected this can lead to; a reduction in software defects, improved configuration management, better estimating, increased reuse of developed software, or better defined and controlled software and user requirements.

The Spi Programme Content

During the 6-Month programme a group of companies work together and undergoes training in Software Process Improvement combining all the key elements for successful improvement initiatives including:

Training - providing you with the information you need over six 1-day sessions on how to handle cost effective process improvement in your organisation. Topics covered will include:

  • Introduction to SPI and the step-by-step approach
  • How to achieve the cultural change necessary to make your project a success
  • Relevance and importance of a focused SPI Team.
  • The SPICE model
  • How to select an appropriate project or process using the SPICE categories
  • Planning your next project and ensuring continuous improvement


Assessment
- using the SPICE model we do a structured assessment of your current practices (using a process assessment tool) and help you choose the optimum project, which will provide the most business benefit.

Mentoring - doing your first improvement project can be a daunting task, but not when you have expert help on hand to guide you through the process. Each company will have an experienced Tutor assigned who will visit them on-site and assist with the preparation of a realistic project plan for the selected improvement project and help guide them through the implementation of the project and the evaluation of the results.

This step-by-step approach ensures success and at the end of the programme you will have the confidence and experience to continue with your next project on your own.

What Is The Cost Of The SPI Programme?

Only 5000 Euro per company which includes:

  • 2 attendees per company at each training session
  • All materials and refreshments
  • Assigned Mentor and 5 half-day site visits
  • Email/Telephone support

CSE Courses are approved through Enterprise-Ireland and you may as a company be eligible for grant aid. Contact your local Enterprise Ireland representative for more information

How Do You Find Out More?

Further information on the Easy way to SPI programme can be obtained by contacting us on01 700 5750 or emailing admin@cse.dcu.ie

So if you are currently thinking of undertaking an SPI project in your organisation, talk to us for guidance on the help available to you, whether you want to join this programme, or prefer to look at individual consultancy in the SPI area.


The Easy way to SPI programme is based on an earlier European project called SPIRE.
Further information on the SPIRE project can be found by accessing http://www.cse.dcu.ie/spire

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2003 Centre for Software Engineering
Dublin City University Tel: +353 1 700 5750, Fax: +353 1 700 5605,