The aim of the TRI-SPIN project was to provide an integrated support package to assist Irish Software Companies in improving the process used to develop software and to strive to achieve higher levels of Software Process Maturity. The package contained various elements in order to provide a wide base of support for the differing companies: - an Industry Advisory Group, Experience Dissemination, Mentoring, Special Interest Groups and Focused Process Improvements.
The target objectives in each area were as follows:
- To establish an Industry Advisory Group to examine the needs of the industry;
- To publicize experience of software process improvement through quarterly newsletters and 16 documented case studies;
- To provide direct assistance, through mentors, of up to 20 SMEs who were already undertaking or wished to embark upon process improvement;
- To identify a programme of events in areas of significance to the industry, monitor effectiveness and disseminate the information discussed through the project's own channels;
- To provide support to up to 10 companies for specific improvement actions and disseminate the outcome of these actions.
The material for the case study publications was gathered from two sources: companies who had already undertaken projects to improve their quality, methods, technology or management; and companies involved in TRI-SPIN through the mentoring or the focused process improvements. The case study format consisted of a 4 page brochure written in a short, concise manner avoiding technical jargon. The target audience was business decision makers whose commitment is necessary to initiate and sustain software process improvement and to make resources available to support the improvement. In addition to the case studies, a quarterly newsletter was produced which contained invited promotional articles, news of SPI initiatives (in particular TRI-SPIN and ESPITI), Irish SPI event listings and summary case studies. Distribution of the material was made through mailshots (using existing CSE, SIF and ESPITI lists), circulation at any conferences, workshops or special interest groups and through the World Wide Web.
The mentoring and focused process improvements companies provided substantive material for experience dissemination and had the additional benefit of actually increasing awareness and effectiveness of SPI projects internally.
The organisation of workshops between the TRI-SPIN participants encouraged greater co-operation between companies for exchange of ideas on SPI. It also provided concrete support and evidence through presentations and question and answer sessions.
The mentoring process was mainly adopted by 'immature' companies and hence, with the guidance offered through TRI-SPIN, more companies are following serious SPI plans to increase the overall maturity level. The FPI companies have showed real SPI gains over a relatively short period of time. The correct cultural environment for SPI is now well established within these companies providing an excellent foundation for future improvements. This will encourage these companies to seek further improvement possibly with the aid of funding through larger Process Improvement Experiments. This should provide more advancement in the field of SPI throughout Ireland.
The majority of the mentoring and FPI companies were SMEs which supplied much needed material for the case studies on such organisations. The production of the case studies has allowed this experience to be disseminated both within North and South Ireland to the decision makers and is available for use by other ESPITI ROs to widen the potential audience of the information.
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