Original Date: 01/23/1995
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Software Process Improvement
Sandia National Laboratories' Quality Engineering Department has developed a software process improvement (SPI) approach to improve individual Sandia organization's software processes. This approach is part of a company-wide software management program initiative.
Sandia had no company-wide policy on software management. Requests for software quality engineering were on a case-by-case basis typically late in a project development. Processes were not cost or benefit efficient. The software management program initiative has recently established a company-wide policy requiring organizations to document their software management approach, and the SPI approach to assist organizations in improving their processes.
Sandia's organizations vary widely in their applications and the practices used to produce software products. Sandia'a SPI approach is tailored from a SEMATECH approach to address specific Sandia organizational needs. The SPI approach consists of eight steps.
The first step of the SPI approach is to establish and sustain SPI commitments from executive management. A memorandum of understanding is generated to establish the commitment from upper management. Baselining the software process capability of an organization and targeting customer- oriented improvements are accomplished through questionnaires and an assessment process similar to the Software Engineering Institute's. Software quality and goals are defined and the SPI system is established. Improvement action plans are generated and metrics to be measured are determined. Improvement plans are implemented and lessons learned are fed back to evaluate and refine SPI in a continuous manner.
Sandia implemented some process improvement activities for a non-real time nuclear weapons application with safety and security specific issues. This application consisted of three major hardware components and four major software elements. Software inspections and improved system integrated testing process improvements were planned. Significant savings were generated by finding major defects during inspection. Slightly over three percent of the software budget was used for the inspections and the reduction in retest saved 18.9% of budget and time. Greater than 85% of major defects were found in inspection instead of in test or operation. More than 40% of software requirements flaws were due to concept/system requirements defects.
As customers approach Sandia with requests for software process improvement, Sandia is prepared to demonstrate how their processes are cost effective and well controlled. The process inherently has continuous improvement to provide growth for the future.
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