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Integrated software management through processes improvement

Objective

Ibermatica is a supplier of software based IT systems to a diversity of customers. As the market becomes more competitive and the purchasers are being offered more independent means of judging suppliers competence, it has become increasingly important to be able to demonstrate our commitment to quality and our ability to develop and maintain products. Applying new software processes will not only improve our competence but also it will send a clear message to our customers and our competitors of our ability to change and perform.

One of the main causes of delays and budget problems in the products developed by Ibermatica is the amount of changes during the post-delivery phase. The changes normally arrive from two different sources: Difficulty to agree with the customers clear requirements, plus the subsequent changes, and the lack to perform a full testing life cycle, mainly because of tide time scales.

THE EXPERIMENT

The software development unit has 40 people, with around 30 fully dedicated to software development and maintenance.

The experiment is aimed to improve our software processes mainly in three areas: Requirements Management, Project Management and Product quality. The improvement in those areas will help in the reduction of change not only during the development life cycle but also assuring the post-delivery phase. This reduction will allow us to reduce the resources allocated to the projects and therefore project management will be enhanced.

The initial steps of the experiment are oriented to define the procedures and guidelines to be used in the software development, and finally to pilot this new processes in a baseline project. Training will be used to enhanced personnel skills and to obtain a real technology transfer.
In order to measure the effectiveness of the new processes, metrics related to changes and errors will be established.

EXPECTED IMPACT AND EXPERIENCE

The results could be split into two categories: Commercial Impact and Technical benefits.

Software based IT systems suppliers market has become increasingly competitive where only those companies able to offer good quality products, on time and at a competitive price, will have an opportunity to survive. Immediate commercial benefits as a result of improving our processes performance are:

- Improve our productivity and competitiveness in the market.
- Reduce Development and Maintenance costs.
- Better customer service.
- Improve Software Products quality.

The expected technical benefits could be defined to be as:

- Achievement of an Integrated Software Management.
- Unified company policies regarding Training, Methodology, Procedures and Tools leading to higher productivity and quality.
- Service Support will be enhanced.
- Error prevention in early stages of the cycle.
- Increase personnel skills and therefore personnel contentment.

As we are now initiating the experiment, it is difficult at this stage to foreseen which will be our activities on SPI at the end of the current experiment. Nevertheless and as mentioned in the Business Motivation section (see above) it is imperative to Ibermatica's strategic plans to continue within a continuous improvement cycle.

This was our first involvement in an European project and at the beginning there was some reluctance mainly from the management. The main reason to be reluctant of, was the establishment of a real commitment with the Commission and the difficulty to foreseen if future projects pressure could jeopardised the whole experiment.

Funding Scheme

ACM - Preparatory, accompanying and support measures

Coordinator

Ibermatica
Address
Calle Rodriguez Arias 23
48011 Bilbao
Spain