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Governing Software Process Improvements in Globally Distributed Product Development

2015-03-03 07:21:04
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Continuous software process improvement (SPI) practices have been extensively prescribed to improve performance of
software projects. However, SPI implementation mechanisms have received little scholarly attention, especially in the context of
distributed software product development. We took an action research approach to study the SPI journey of a large multinational
enterprise that adopted a distributed product development strategy. We describe the interventions and action research cycles enacted
over a period of five years in collaboration with the firm, which resulted in a custom SPI framework that catered to both the social and
technical needs of the firm’s distributed teams. Institutionalizing the process maturity framework got stalled initially because the SPI
initiatives were perceived by product line managers as a mechanism for exercising wider controls by the firm’s top management. The
implementation mechanism was subsequently altered to co-opt product line managers, which contributed to a wider adoption of the SPI
framework. Insights that emerge from our analysis of the firm’s SPI journey pertain to the integration of the technical and social views of
software development, preserving process diversity through the use of a multi-tiered, non-blueprint approach to SPI, the linkage
between key process areas and project control modes, and the role of SPI in aiding organizational learning.

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