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Cultural and Political Issues in Implementing Software Process Improvement

Cultural and Political Issues in Implementing Software Process Improvement
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Author(s): Dana Edberg (University of Nevada, Reno, USA) and Lisa A. Anderson (University of Nevada, Reno, USA)
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 4
Source title: Emerging Trends and Challenges in Information Technology Management
Source Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-019-6.ch040
ISBN13: 9781616921286
EISBN13: 9781466665361

Abstract

Software process improvement (SPI) initiatives encompass a broad range of potential changes to the software development and maintenance process. An SPI initiative can be as simple as implementing a new package for software version control or as complex as changing the way developers work with system stakeholders to identify necessary software requirements. While the scope of the actual initiative may vary, the key issue is that SPI means change of some kind to the way people conduct the work of software development and maintenance. Changing people’s work habits is frequently perilous, as has been confirmed by the reported 70% failure rate of SPI projects (SEI, 2002). Software development organizations continue to implement SPI with the hope that such initiatives will reduce defects, improve overall productivity, lower costs and enhance the repeatability of project results (Humphrey, 1998). While current research has extensively explored the reasons for success and failure of SPI through case studies, observation and surveys of project participants, research has been unable to produce a clear formula for successful SPI implementation. What has become clear is that managing SPI is similar to managing any other form of profound organizational change and requires broader understanding of the effects of organizational culture and politics on that change. According to Peter Senge et al. (1999), if we believe that organizations are living organisms capable of learning and growth, then we should stop asking why people resist change and instead attempt to understand the natural response of the enterprise, given its traditions, norms and assumptions. This paper explores the cultural and political issues affecting work process change within a software development enterprise.

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