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Product focused improvement of embedded software processes


The increasing amount and complexity of software in embedded systems (e.g. telecommunications systems, medical instruments and consumer electronics) sets new requirements for the quality of the products as well as for the management of the development process. The amount of software-related work is often over 70% of the development effort for the whole system. The software has to be developed in very short cycles, taking into account its close relationship with hardware and other product technologies. The quality of the product perceived by the customer and the application domain are the driving forces for the improvement of embedded software development.

There is a general belief among software engineers that the better the software development process, the better the quality of the software. Most software process assessment and improvement approaches are focused on analysing the current status of the software process and deriving improvement goals based on the process assessment rather than on product improvement goals, although companies must sell best quality products, not processes. The assessment results provide a snapshot of the process at a certain moment in time, and cannot give alone continuous feedback for the product improvement goals. A goal-oriented approach provides a more accurate continuous measurement of customer oriented product quality factors.

The objective of the PROFES project is to develop and to validate a new product quality improvement methodology that:
- links customer oriented product quality factors directly to process characteristics;
- combines and enhances the strengths of goal-oriented measurement, process assessment, product and process modelling and experience factory;
- is tailored to embedded software development; and
- is packaged into a consultancy service package supported by a handbook, tools and presentation material;

The product quality improvement methodology will be developed and validated in three parallel industrial experiments in different application domains by performing two experimental cycles. The industrial applications have been selected based on a shared set of customer driven product improvement needs, viz. product safety, reliability, availability and cost effectiveness. These product improvement goals will be tuned to the detailed needs of the application experiments based on measurements, product and process models and assessments by combining the benefits of these approaches. In this way the PROFES project will link the product characteristics directly to the process characteristics and enables a continuous product improvement in three industrial application domains. PROFES will provide a means to focus process improvement efforts to those part of the software development approach will be based on experiences from related projects and will integrate its components in a unique way to fully exploit their potential for improvement.

The PROFES project helps Europe improve competitiveness in the following ways:
1. by providing a framework that addresses strong needs of European (and international) industry in the embedded systems domain, i.e.:
- how to link quality of the final product to the processes and how to employ this knowledge for product improvement,
- how to apply in real environments modern improvement approaches such as process assessment, process modelling, goal oriented measurement and the principles of the experience factory
2. by improving the competitiveness of product development in the participating companies
3. by offering PROFES consultancy services to companies developing embedded software
4. by planning, co-ordinating and performing exploitation of the project results
5. by developing a methodology documented in a handbook and supported with packaged experience and cost/benefit models, tools and training material, which can be adopted by all European organisations developing embedded systems and
6. by disseminating the project experience and results through publications, lectures in recognised European conferences on software quality and related approaches, tutorials and seminars.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts


Technical Research Centre of Finland Electronics Laboratory
Kaitvaeylae 1
SF-90571 Oulu

Participants (6)

Draeger Medical Electronics
Ibc Wed 1
5680 GA Best
Etnoteam S.p.a.
Via Adelaide Bono Cairoli 34
20127 Milano
Tullastr. 72
79108 München
Oy Lm Ericsson Ab
FIN-02420 Jorvas
Schlumberger Industries Sa, Et-Rps
Rue Jean Jaurès 50
92542 Montrouge
University of Oulu
Kirkkokatu 11
90101 Oulu