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An Evaluation of Software Development Practices among Small Firms in Developing Countries - A Test of a Simplified Software Process Improvement Model

A longstanding complaint in the local technology community has been that major Government software contracts are often prejudicial to overseas firms and the local software industry is rarely given a chance to participate, thus limiting opportunities to develop their capabilities. A common response these concerns point to immature software development processes and practices in local firms. Formal Software Process Improvement (SPI) models provide a mechanism for local firms to improve their capability, but few pursue it because of the steep learning curve and adoption cost.

This research project developed and validated a simplified software process improvement (SPI) model that can help smaller software development firms (in the English-speaking Caribbean) approximate the capability of their larger competitors.  Large software development organizations normally adopt well established SPI protocols to increase the likelihood of producing higher quality information systems (IS). However, smaller firms in this industry typically find these programs too costly and cumbersome to adopt.

While larger organizations have benefitted from the implementation of such practices and processes and have long adopted formal SPI arrangements to increase their capability to deliver high quality software products, smaller firms in developing countries, typically find themselves in a catch-22 situation: They do not have the capacity to absorb software development failures but they find the learning curve for using sophisticated SPI techniques quite steep, the adoption cost prohibitive, and the implementation cumbersome.

The validated model can now be offered to researchers for use with or without modification in other research efforts and software development domains.  To practitioners it is potentially a useful guide as to which SPI practices and processes should be employed and prioritized for improving the quality of their delivered software products.  The study also made an assessment of the current SPI practices in small firms in the Caribbean and confirmed that most are operating at low levels. These firms can improve their software process quality and competitiveness in this industry, by focusing on fewer and a more manageable set of SPI practices, such as those suggested in this study.

 

For more information about this body of research, contact:

Dr. Delroy Chevers, delroy.chevers@uwimona.edu.jm

Mr. Stanford Moore, stanford.moore@uwimona.edu.jm (Professor Evan Duggan and Collaborator)

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