SOFTWARE PROCESS IMPROVEMENT PROJECT PLAN draft 09/01/94
In concert with the corporate strategy for business process
improvement, and with particular emphasis on improving customer
satisfaction, our organization has decided to ensure that we employ
the same engineering excellence in our software development
practises that we build into our products.
This document describes a plan to:
1. improve software quality so that it always meets
requirements with as few defects as possible
2. lower the cost of maintaining software
3. reduce the cycle-time of software development
4. improve the accuracy of project forecasting
2.1 PROBLEM STATEMENT
Our customers are as individual as the many different countries in
which they are located. All, however, face an ever changing
business environment. As they strive for excellence in producing
their products, they place ever increasing demands on our products
Rapid change makes for excellent business opportunities, but we
need to minimize the problems associated with it:
1. a desire to rush products to the customer, leading to:
A. insufficient functionality, i.e. not having all the
real requirements satisfied
B. high defect counts due to the shortening of design
and test cycles
C. lack of rigorous project planning and internal
D. excess design complexity resulting from a failure
to recognize the commonalities in what seem to be
disjoint requirements from different customers
E. failure to properly partner with customers to
determine their true underlying needs
2. high long term maintenance costs, stemming from:
A. having to fix products already in the field
B. constant functionality changes/enhancements which
require continual product redesign (and the risks
C. training/retraining employees without proper
In order to keep up with our changing business environment, we must
reduce our software development cycle time. But at the same time,
we must preserve our high quality standards.
In order to provide timely and correct product availability
information to our customers, and so that we can more accurately
balance internal resources, we must improve our schedule
2.2 PROJECT CHARTER
The Software Process Improvement (SPI) project's mission is to
determine which software development areas need to be improved
and to ensure that improvement occurs.
That mission must be accomplished while our group continues to operate
its business. Since no improvement can be made instantaneously and
many cannot be made simultaneously, this project must achieve its
goals using a sequence of improvement cycles based on the SEMATECH
Software Process Improvement Method. That is, we will strive for
In each cycle, the areas which need improvement the most will be
2.3 PROJECT CUSTOMERS AND PARTICIPANTS
Everyone in our group will eventually be both a customer and a
participant of process improvement.
The Quality Steering Team (QST) created the Software Quality
Improvement Team (QIT) and gave it the responsibility for planning
and deploying an improved software process.
The QIT will propose process changes to the QST which will approve
them for deployment in either pilot form or for wide scale use.
The QIT has members from each software development organization
to insure that each group's special needs are considered.
The software staff will:
1. help direct the software process improvement activities
2. serve as action team representatives
3. take part in pilot projects
4. implement the software development process
Our customers will be partnering with development to help us
produce high quality products that meet all the requirements the
2.4 PROJECT PHASES, OBJECTIVES, AND TACTICS
Each cycle of the project will have the following major phases:
3. Goal Setting
4. Action plan development
At the end of each phase, the products of that phase and the action
plans for the next phase will be reviewed with the QST and
software staff. The QST is asked to concur with the approach and
level of effort. The software staff is informed of the activities
impacting them and provide comments to the QIT.
Refer to the SOFTWARE PROCESS IMPROVEMENT PROJECT SCHEDULE
for information about the timings of the phases.
In this phase:
1. problems are recognized and reduced to least common
denominators and stated in very general terms
2. an initial software process improvement plan is developed
3. a preliminary definition of software quality and
preliminary quality goals are developed
4. a generic description of action teams is developed. The
description of the teams covers the scope, approach,
goals, responsibilities, and procedures.
In this phase, a rigorous appraisal of the current state of our
software development capabilities will be made using the "Coached
Self Appraisal" provided by the Software Technology and Engineering
The appraisal should provide concrete data upon which to build
specific testable goals.
The appraisal will be administered to all software staff at
once so that different groups don't interpret the questionnaire
A summarized report of the findings will be presented to the QST
and software staff.
2.4.3 Goal Setting
In this phase, the QIT will use the appraisal results to finalize
the quality goals and express them in a testable form.
Certain improvements will be targeted for immediate action, and
others left for a subsequent improvement cycle -- based on the
perceived benefit of the change and the resources available.
2.4.4 Action plan development
For each targeted activity, an improvement plan document, modeled
after this one, will be produced by the QIT. These documents will
describe the nature of the activity, the participants, the expected
benefits of the change, and the measures of success that will
The action teams, which will shepherd the implementation of the
activity, will be defined. Members will be chosen by the QIT with
QST and software management concurrence. The QIT will customize
the Generic Action Team Description for the specific activity
and will add guidelines for its implementation.
Action Teams define in detail the activities required to implement
the improvement. The Action Team generates estimates of effort
and schedules. Key points for conducting reviews will be identified
by the Action Teams.
In this phase, the action plans described above, will be executed.
Quality measurements will be taken throughout the implementation
process so that an evaluation of process improvements can be made
based on factual data in the evaluation phase.
Pilot projects may be used to validate new processes. When a pilot
is done, an evaluation of "lessons learned" will be made before
putting the process into wide use.
An analysis of what was done and how effectively it was done will
be made in the evaluation phase -- which will be begin after all
targeted activities have been put into organization wide utilization.
The following major areas will be studied:
1. how effective were the changes in achieving our goals
as described in section 1.0?
2. how well did the this process improvement plan work?
3. where can we improve the process?
4. how well did we get organization wide participation in the SPI
One product of the evaluation will be a list of improvements to
make in the next cycle of the project.
2.5 PROJECT BENEFITS AND SUCCESS CRITERIA
This project will be a success if:
1. there is a clear, measurable success in solving at least
one of the problems, stated in section 2.1
2. a culture of continuous improvement is established
3. a organization wide software development process is established
2.6 PROJECT MANAGEMENT
The QST created the Software QIT and will regularly review
its progress towards meeting the objectives, stated section 1.0.
The QIT is composed of members from the various development groups
within the group so as to insure that each group's special technical
needs are met. The QST is composed of the managers of each group
and can insure that business needs are met.
The QIT will have the central role in planning process improvement
activities. The QST will make the decisions about additional
participation in the appraisal, action plan development, and
implementation phases described in section 2.4.
Some development organizations have their own software process
improvement teams. The QIT will attempt to interface with these
teams when action plans need to be developed and when
implementation efforts are needed.
It is assumed that no additional head count will be available to
implement process improvement activities or any new process
To minimize the risks of such a major, organization wide change,
the SPI approach is:
1. The QIT is kept small to reduce costs, but is composed of
members of all development organizations to insure
2. The department manager will supervise the activities of
the SPI and report on their process to the leadership team.
3. Regular reviews with the QST are being held.
4. The SEMATECH Software Process Improvement method is being
followed. This method has been shown to be successful in
one company and SEMATECH is beta testing with six additional
companies in 1994. In 1995, the method will be available
for general use.
5. Regular consultation with the software staff to get the
benefit of their experience and to keep them informed are
6. Rigorous project planning and documentation are being done
A. help insure the SPI project's success
B. train the QIT members on the process
C. serve as an example of the process
That is, the process is being used to establish the process.
7. Process improvements are implemented in a stepwise fashion,
instead of all at once.
Project documents are being placed on a commonly available file
server. Once a document has been accepted by the QST it can only
be changed with the QST's approval (except for cosmetic changes
which Russ Keenan, as QST liaison, can approve).
Project schedules will also be placed on this file server, and will
be updated regularly as work is actually accomplished. Changes to
schedules will not require QST approval unless they impact cost or
resource allocations previously agreed upon by the QST. The QIT
will review progress against schedule at each meeting.
All versions of all documents will be kept for comparison. Ascii
files will be used to minimize cross platform incompatibilities.
2.6.1 SPI Project Business Plan
This project's activities are described in the SEMATECH SPI method
mentioned earlier. Wayman Garnett provided the QIT with a detailed
project schedule corresponding to this method. Microsoft Project
for Windows will be used to help estimate schedule and track
Project status will be reported to the QST and to the software
staff on a regular basis.
The QST has committed a few hours of each QIT member's time each
week to the SPI project. As additional time is needed,
particularly during the action plan development and implementation
phases, the QIT will negotiate with the QST as to when or if a
given project milestone should be pursued, based on the
availability of resources.
At the beginning of each major phase, the QIT will estimate the
effort. If the expected effort exceeds that previously agreed to
by the QST, the QIT will ask the QST for permission to proceed.
2.6.2 SPI Project Personnel Training Plan
The QIT has received high level training about the STEP methodology
and the SEMATECH Software Process Improvement methodology.
Decisions about subsequent training for the QIT and other
personnel will be made based on the kinds of process improvements
deemed to be needed in the action planning phase of the current
2.6.3 Toolset Identification
Decisions about the need for specific software tools will be made
based on the kinds of process improvements deemed to be necessary
in the action planning phase or as early in the current SPI cycle
as required to support improvement implementation needs.
3.0 SOFTWARE PROCESS IMPROVEMENT WORK PLAN
3.1 SOFTWARE PROCESS CAPABILITY ASSESSMENT
We will use STEP's Coached Self-Appraisal to evaluate its software
All software staff will be invited to participate in the
appraisal the first time it is administered. A random sampling of
developers is all that is technically required, but participating
in the appraisal will be helpful in educating the participants.
A random sampling may be used to reduce the cost of subsequent
re-appraisals needed to measure progress.
In each appraisal, the SPI team leader will:
1. Prepare for the appraisal.
2. Develop and deliver directions for the appraisal
participants and will be available during the appraisal to
answer questions so that everyone filling out the
questionnaire will answer the questions in the same way.
Software groups will collaborate to complete a single
questionnaire for the group.
3. Collect and analyze the appraisal questionnaire data.
4. Present the appraisal findings to the participants.
5. Complete an appraisal findings report for the QST and the
rest of organization.
6. Lead in the presentation of the appraisal findings to the
QST and software staff managers / supervisors.
The QIT will:
1. assist in the implementation of the appraisal
2. participate in the appraisal
3. participate in the presentation of the findings to the
QST and software staff management.
3.2 FINALIZE THE PROJECT PLANS AND GOALS
The QIT will take into account the appraisal findings, QST
recommendations, and finalize the quality plans and goals.
The QIT will produce a list of the processes which need
improvement. An action plan for each will be developed by the QIT.
The plans will provide a "first pass" document describing:
2. expected benefits
3. measures of success
4. resources required
5. target schedules:
A. for the pilot (if any)
B. organization wide utilization
6. guidelines for an action team to follow
The QST will determine which action plans it wishes to fund in the
current improvement cycle.
An action team will be formed to shepherd the implementation of
each action plan. An action team is a collection of individuals
experienced in the process being improved, and who have a vested
interest in seeing the improvement be successful.
Each team will:
1. Finalize the action plan. The criteria for each team to
begin implementation includes:
A. target estimates for the effort and schedules
B. QIT concurrence with the plan
C. measurements for tracking quality level attainment
D. progress toward completion of the improvement
2. Implement the plan and collect quality measures.
3. Regularly review their status with the QIT and with other
4. Provide an evaluation of their successes, failures, or
other lessons learned.
A more complete description of the action teams may be found here
A QIT team member will be assigned to be the liaison between each
action team and the QIT.
The QIT will regularly report the status of the action teams to the
The QIT will make the determination as to which action plans to
submit to the QST for approval based on the following prioritised
1. a desire to achieve a clear, demonstrable success in some
process improvement area
2. an expectation that the QST will make the needed resources
3. ease of implementation
4. expected benefit
Near the end of the process improvement cycle and after all
targeted improvements have been implemented organization wide and after the
quality measurements have been correctly gathered for a substantial
period of time, an analysis of the progress towards achieving the
goals stated in section 1.0 will be made by the QIT.
The Software Quality Goals along with the action team evaluation
reports and customer and software staff feed back will be taken
The quality measurements collection strategy will also be reviewed.
A final version of the definition of software quality and the
quality goals will be created.
The SPI Strategy will be updated.
An evaluation report will be presented to the QST and the the
3.5 ESTABLISHING A CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT PROCESS
After the evaluation, plans for the development of a continuous
SPI strategy will be developed and submitted to the QST.
The following will be defined:
1. the role of management
2. the role of the Software QIT
3. the role of individual software staff
4. descriptions of generic SPI action teams
5. how we are going to oversee the continuous SPI process
on its own (without the direct support of an SRDT SEPG
person -- embodied by Wayman Garnett at this time).
3.6 NEXT CYCLE ACTION PLAN
An SPI action plan for the next cycle will be produced by the QIT
and submitted to the QST for approval.
That plan will be modeled after this one, but will be enhanced by
the insights and experience obtained from the current SPI cycle.
The results of the appraisal and software metrics activities will
figure prominently in its development. Process improvement activities,
such as BEST, will be reviewed by the QIT and action plans will
be aligned with these initiatives.
4.0 SPI PLAN SIGN OFF
Before this plan can be implemented, it must be signed off by the